- Our mental wellbeing is affected by many different factors, but what role does spirituality play in mental health?
- Spirituality can serve as a guiding force: it provides us with a purpose, whether our spiritual practices are rooted in religion, nature, art, or something else.
- This guiding light benefits our mental health in numerous ways: it increases our compassion for ourselves as well as others and helps us achieve a peaceful state.
- Spirituality also helps our relationships: we listen more carefully and are overall more present when with others.
- Finally, spirituality can help you attune your mind to focus on the present moment, rather than ruminating over the past or worrying about the future.
Mental health refers to your psychological and emotional wellbeing, of which is affected by numerous elements: stress, self-esteem (or lack thereof), the quality of your relationships, your physical health, and everyday activity. But what role does spirituality play in mental health?
Spirituality is connecting with something larger than yourself. This could be a higher power or other guiding force such as nature or art. In any case, tapping into your spiritual self can benefit your mental health in many ways: it can make you more compassionate, help you feel at peace, improve your relationships with others, and transform you into a more mindful individual.
Spirituality Is a Guiding Force
Some people are religiously inclined and practice spirituality by attending church, praying, or reading the bible. Others, however, engage in spiritual practices that have nothing to do with religion: these individuals might find meaning in spending time outside or creating art. Whatever the root or base of spirituality, it provides a personal sense of purpose and fulfillment. Jill Sylvester, Licensed Mental Health Counselor, explains further:
“I believe that when a person aligns with a form of spirituality, whether that be church, temple, nature, meditation, it becomes the guiding force for their life. That faith-based practice of knowing you are guided by something bigger, encouraged by an energy that supports the direction that is for your highest and best. Spirituality, in my opinion, transcends religion, in that it is not limited by a doctrine or belief system that pertains only to its members. Spirituality, instead, is what I often refer to in session, as private and personal. It is what feels spiritual to the person, to you.”
4 Effects Spirituality Has on Mental Health
If you haven’t dedicated any time or energy into exploring your spiritual self, you might not know or understand how it can benefit you. “When you come to tap into that energy force, you experience massive benefits to your mental health,” Sylvester explains. So, to answer the important question, “What role does spirituality play in mental health?” here are 4 effects spirituality has on our mental health and overall wellbeing:
1. You become more compassionate.
First, spirituality can make you a more compassionate person. “You develop compassion, for yourself and for others,” says Sylvester. How? It involves stepping outside of yourself and looking at the bigger picture, which improves one’s compassion and empathy for others.
2. You feel at peace.
Spirituality can also bring you peace. “You experience a sense of peace that comes from knowing that something bigger than you is working in your life,” says Sylvester. For example, it helps to remember that there are things outside of our control—of which we should not stress or ruminate over. We should instead focus on what’s in our control: how we respond to the events in our life.
3. Your relationships improve.
Additionally, practicing spirituality can help you to improve your relationships. “You listen more fully, you become more present with others,” Sylvester explains. You also care for and nurture your relationships more carefully.
4. You transform your mind.
Finally, spirituality lends to a total mind recalibration. “You slow yourself down more often in order to experience what is really going on in the moments of your day,” says Sylvester. In other words, you take care of and focus on the present moment.
If you want to utilize spirituality to achieve a greater state of being, you should engage in spiritual practices on a regular basis. “It is important to cultivate spirituality in a consistent practice so that you continue to reap the benefits for your mental health. When you incorporate this practice into your life, you can rise to an elevated view for most mental health issues in order to transcend them,” Sylvester explains. “Ultimately, you move past your mind and into a more peaceful space of being.”