What is spirituality?
Spirituality is the way you find meaning, hope, comfort and inner peace in your life. Many people find spirituality through religion. Some find it through music, art or a connection with nature. Others find it in their values and principles.
How is spirituality related to health?
No one really knows for sure how spirituality is related to health. However, it seems the body, mind and spirit are connected. The health of any one of these elements seems to affect the health of the others.
Some research shows that things such as positive beliefs, comfort and strength gained from religion, meditation and prayer can contribute to healing and a sense of well being. Improving your spiritual health may not cure an illness, but it may help you feel better, prevent some health problems and help you cope with illness, stress or death.
How can I improve my spiritual health?
If you want to improve your spiritual health, you may want to try the following ideas. However, remember that everyone is different, so what works for others may not work for you. Do what is comfortable for you.
- Identify the things in your life that give you a sense of inner peace, comfort, strength, love and connection.
- Set aside time every day to do the things that help you spiritually. These may include doing community service or volunteer work, praying, meditating, singing devotional songs, reading inspirational books, taking nature walks, having quiet time for thinking, doing yoga, playing a sport or attending religious services.
Why does my doctor need to know about my spiritual beliefs?
If you are being treated for an illness, it's important for your doctor to know how your spirituality might affect your feelings and thoughts about your medical situation. If you think your spiritual beliefs are affecting your health care decisions or your ability to follow your doctor's recommendations, tell your doctor.
If you have spiritual beliefs, worries or concerns that are causing you stress, talk with your doctor. Your doctor would like to help. If your doctor can't help you with these issues, he or she may be able to suggest someone who can.
Spirituality and Medical Practice: Using the HOPE Questions as a Practical Tool for Spiritual Assessment by G Anandarajah, MD; E Hight, MD, MPH (American Family Physician January 01, 2001, http://www.aafp.org/afp/20010101/81.html)
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff