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Harmony Within: A Guide to Spiritual Self-Care

Ashlee Stumpf, LPC

Self-care has been a buzz word for the past decade or so. Conjuring thoughts of getting a massage, taking a day off, seeing a therapist, etc. It’s a broad term which involves the important practice of taking care of ourselves. However, what many people don’t know is that self-care can be divided up into factions. This is because there are many aspects to any person, so there are different aspects when it comes to caring for yourself. Today we will discuss spiritual self-care and how it enhances one’s mental health. 

What is Spiritual Self-Care?

Good spiritual health involves a personal relationship with what gives your life meaning and/or connection with something bigger than yourself. Some people find that in God, nature, culture, kindness, etc. It looks different depending on the person, but there is something for everyone. 

Like other self-care practices, spiritual self-care requires taking time away from your busy schedule and focusing on you. However, unlike other self-care practices, this one does require more self-reflection. What gives your life purpose? What makes you feel connected/ grounded? What do you value? No one can answer those questions but yourself. It may take you some time to figure that out, but it’s worthwhile. 

Spiritual Self-Care & Mental Health

Because spiritual self-care requires you to reflect on what matters, you become more connected with yourself. This in turn helps increase good mental health. When we feel disconnected or unsure of our values, incongruity can concur. That’s when who we want to be and who we actually are feels very different. Anxiety and depression symptoms can arise when we don’t like how we’re acting. 

Spiritual self-care can enhance self-awareness. Let yourself feel assured with who you are and what you believe in. Many studies have shown higher happiness ratings among people who report attending religious services regularly compared to people who don’t. This is possibly because they have a known set of values, practice them regularly, and have a community of like-minded people to engage with. Does that mean an atheist or a person who would rather pray on their own can’t also be happy? Of course not. This example just shows how a regular spiritual self-care routine can benefit mental health.  

Ways to Practice Spiritual Self-Care

Read Inspiring Material

For some people, inspiring reading may be a devotional from a religious text, for others it may be a self-help book that aids them to see their worth. Both can help a person feel more connected with themselves. Whatever the source, reading before bedtime to settle your mind or in the morning to set your intentions can be helpful.   

Engage in a Tradition

Traditions are a way to connect with something old; something before our current troubles, or even before our existence. They remind us of beloved memories, let us carry them on, or make them our own. Whichever, traditions allow us to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. This could be attending a religious service, celebrating a holiday, or sharing a weekly meal with friends. Traditions can come from anywhere.   

Spend Time in Nature

Whether religious, spiritual, or somewhere else entirely, nature is directly connected to emotional well-being, and  is awe-inspiring. From a scientific point of view, being outdoors is good for us because of the vitamin D from the sun. But beyond that there is a calming nature to being outdoors. Take time by a large body of water, on a hike, or a local park and see if you experience it.  

Volunteer

I remember I once saw this poster (at a veterinarian’s office of all places) which said, “Do you think God can’t use you?” It went on to list major figures in the Bible and their flaws, ending with Lazarus being dead. (That made me laugh.) The point is everyone can be helpful. By giving that service to others, we also use volunteering to strengthen our own mental health.  and feel more connected to who we are.  

Unplug from Technology

If your anxiety goes up every time you get a notification on your phone, it may be time to take a digital detox. Our phones, computers, tablets etc., do help us get so much done, yet we keep trying to do more. Stop it. Take an afternoon, a day, a weekend and unplug. Take time to notice the big world around you. It may make your screen seem smaller. 

Try Out Spiritual Self-Care

With the fast pace of life, we sometimes forget why we’re running. But it is that motivation, that purpose, that keeps us going. That’s why spiritual self-care is important; to remember that “why”. Spiritual self-care gives us guidance. It lets us feel confident in our values and where we are heading. Allow yourself the time to reflect on what spiritual wellness looks like to you and if you need to practice more. If you would like help, feel free to contact Symmetry Counseling.  Give us a call at 888-661-2472, text “APPT” to 312-578-9990, or contact us online.

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