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How Spirituality can Improve Your Mental Health

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

When you are trying to heal your mental health, it can be easy to spend all of your time focusing on symptoms and how to improve them. However, if you are able to shift your focus from your symptoms to something more positive, it becomes easier to live a happier life. This way, you are putting positive thoughts into your mind, instead of dwelling on negative thinking caused by mental health issues.

Taking time for spiritual practices may not be high on your list of importance if you are anxious or depressed, but spirituality can actually help to lift you out of your funk. Incorporating spiritual practices like mindfulness, meditation, yoga, journaling or prayer into your day can give you something positive to focus on.

According to McLean Hospital, spirituality can benefit your mental health in the following ways:

  • Creating a sense of purpose and meaning that helps to deal with challenging life situations

  • Serving as the base of a supportive community

  • Outlining specific practices to help you work on your relationship with yourself and others

  • Providing a foundation on which to build purpose, hope, and self-esteem

  • Giving you tools to self-advocate and ask for what you need

Whether you practice a religious faith or not, spirituality can be a valuable tool to improve your mental health. Having a supportive belief system allows you to have hope even in the darkest of times. Belief in a higher power that loves and supports you can also be beneficial, because often with mental health issues we feel unloved or unwanted. Knowing that there is a higher power rooting for your success can help to overcome this negative thinking.

If you become a part of a spiritual community, this can provide many supportive relationships in times of trouble as well. Many churches also offer things like counseling with a religious leader, assistance with cash, food or housing if you are in crisis, and a safe space to be yourself.

By participating in spiritual practices, either on your own or with a group, you can also find a calm center within yourself. Many spiritual practices have been validated by science as well, and have shown lasting benefits for your mental health. This is true even if, for example, you only meditate or pray for a few minutes each day.

Incorporating spirituality into your life

Whether you have had a spiritual practice before or not, you can begin to incorporate spirituality into your life on a daily basis. This way, you are deepening your connection yourself and the divine, both of which can provide immense mental health support for you throughout your lifetime.

According to WebMD, here are some simple ways that you can begin to incorporate spirituality into your daily life:

  • Find out what makes you feel peaceful, loved, strong, and connected.

  • Dedicate part of your day doing community service.

  • Read inspirational books.

  • Try meditating. 

  • Take a walk outdoors.

  • Pray – alone or with a group.

  • Practice yoga.

  • Play your favorite sport.

  • Dedicate quiet time to yourself.  

As you can see from this list, spirituality isn't all about going to church or reading the Bible. You can incorporate other activities into your day that help you develop a sense of connection within yourself with the divine just by getting outside and taking a walk, or spending quiet time at home.

Yesterday, I had a long journal session to meditate on the idea of love, and it really helped me to feel connected. I remembered that love doesn't have to come from other people, and love isn't a scarce resource. We all have a well of divine love within ourselves, and connecting back to that sense of universal love made me feel so much more centered all day.

Often, we don't make time in our lives for these quiet moments, thinking that we are too busy. Yet, we often let anxious or dark thoughts permeate our minds. By taking time to shift our focus to a space of love and connection - even if it is only for a few minutes - it can be a huge mood booster all day.

In Western culture, we often have negative thoughts about religion due to what we may see portrayed in the media, and how religion has become involved in politics. However, spirituality can be practiced in your life without religious connotations that drag you back into negative thinking.

Within each faith, there are messages of love and hope within religious texts and communities. Or, you can practice a personal version of spirituality without being religious. One example of this is going to AA or other support group meetings. Many of these groups focus on belief in a higher power, without defining what that higher power is for you.

A belief in something greater than yourself can help you to feel loved, and to know that you are never alone. When you are struggling with your mental health, this really is a big deal! Many of us feel isolated through mental health issues, and this doesn't have to be the case. Spirituality can provide hope in dark times and allows us to know that we are never alone. We are safe and supported by a loving, higher power.

The more you come in tune with the highest version of yourself through a spiritual practice, the more your mental health will improve. However, keep in mind that spirituality isn't meant to replace traditional mental health services like seeing a therapist, it is something to supplement the mental health treatment that you receive.

A spiritual practice is something you can incorporate into your day to day life to help give you a sense of hope and purpose. This can improve your mental health by giving you something positive to focus on instead of stressing about your symptoms. The more you deepen your spiritual practice, the more benefits you will begin to see in your life.

To read more about different types of spiritual practices you can incorporate into your life if you are spiritual but not religious, check out my ebook, Compassion is the Ultimate Goal of Spirituality on Amazon.

Let me know in the comments what questions you have, and what topics you would like me to cover in the future!

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