Chances are you’re inundated daily with the importance of physical wellness. We’re encouraged to eat well, exercise, drink plenty of water, and check in with healthcare providers as needed to make sure our bodies are functioning at peak performance.
But what about spiritual wellness?
You’d think that such a topic would be as popular as physical wellbeing, considering how important it is to one’s overall feeling of happiness and fulfilment.
Yet there aren’t many (any?) adverts about it on TV or in magazines, nor do most people discuss it on a day-to-day basis.
Some people think this type of wellness relates to superficial self-care, like taking a relaxing bubble bath or going on a weekend-long new age retreat full of incense and vegan smoothies.
In reality, spiritual wellness is far more involved, and has more far-reaching effects: both on ourselves, and on those around us.
What does “spiritual wellness” mean?
In order to explain this, we first need to delve into what it means to be spiritual in the first place.
Some sages have expressed the idea that we are spiritual beings having human experiences. Others imply that we are walking triumvirates: body-mind-spirit complexes who try to attain balance between our three constituent parts.
No matter what philosophy you hold to, the spiritual aspect of self will be pivotal when it comes to personal awareness and growth. It also encompasses how you respond to other people.
People who are spiritually imbalanced often seem scattered or unstable to other people. They might be more prone to physical or mental illnesses and have difficulty relating to others. While these traits are also associated with those who may be on the autism spectrum or have conditions such as ADHD or PTSD, they’re also strong signs of spiritual unease.
A person who is spiritually well-balanced will often have a calming effect on others. Animals and small children will often be drawn to them, and they may find themselves befriending all manner of critters when out for walks or wandering in parks. People might enjoy simply being in their company and will feel replenished and happier after conversations with them.
Overall, they seem confident in themselves, and have a gentle light to them that’s often associated with kindly grandparents or monks. Kindly and compassionate, but slightly detached.
Signs That You Are Spiritually Well
The signs listed below are just some of the main markers of spiritual wellness. There are a lot more of course, but they’ll depend on the individual rather than applying to everyone.
For example, one person’s signs of wellness might be another’s baseline standard. Of course, if most of these apply to you, that’s a really positive sign that you’re in a good space.
You’re confident about your life’s purpose.
One of the key indicators that you’re in a good place spiritually is that you feel attuned to your life’s purpose. You may not be working full-time in a career that aligns with what you feel is your reason for being, but you dedicate a fair bit of time in that direction.
Before discovering their life’s purpose, many people feel anxious and lost. They know that they “should” be doing something other than they are, but they might not be aware of what that is, exactly. As a result, these anxieties may cause them to spiral into a lot of self-questioning behaviour, making them insecure and beating down their self-esteem.
Alternatively, they might know exactly what they should be doing, but life circumstances and responsibilities prohibit them from being able to do so. This can cause a tremendous amount of frustration and soul-deep depression that can only be alleviated by doing what inspires them.
As you can imagine, spiritual wellness increases exponentially when you’re doing the thing that sets your soul ablaze (in a good way), at least part of the time.
You can observe situations without being affected by them (or drawn into them).
Let’s say you walk into a room where two friends of yours are in an argument of some sort.
Instead of immediately being riled up by the situation, you can remain calm and play the role of the neutral observer. The things they’re saying to or yelling at one another won’t trigger your own memories, nor will you be inclined to leap into the fray. You’re watching everything unfold, listening to what’s being said, but from an outside perspective.
Even if they ask you to take sides, you’re unlikely to do so. You’ll be able to see where each party is coming from and thus be able to validate their individual experiences. In fact, you might even be able to negotiate peace between the two parties by clarifying the situation to show how each of them had a point.
Or you can choose not to get involved and simply walk away, letting them sort themselves out.
Either way, you’ll be able to step free from that environment and not ruminate on it for hours afterwards. Things happened, then they stopped, and you put them down after you left the scene instead of carrying them with you indefinitely. Not your circus, not your monkeys.
You’re sleeping well.
People who have attained a high level of spiritual wellness tend to have an easy time sleeping. Sure, they might get the occasional sleepless night, but that’s usually due to external circumstances like storms or small children’s needs than spiritual or emotional turmoil.
They’re less likely to writhe around for hours every night, twitching and trying to get comfortable while their minds roil with all kinds of intrusive thoughts. They’re in a good enough place that their mental processes are clear rather than clouded. Some might even discover that they don’t have “mental chatter” as much anymore, as the only voice in their head is their own, and it’s a cheerleader rather than a naysayer.
When someone puts the time and effort into keeping body, mind, and spirit in good shape, they’ll often fall asleep easily. They may not have many bad dreams, and they’ll wake up feeling re-energized and alert rather than groggy.
TIP: If you’re on a journey towards greater spiritual wellness, consider keeping some kind of dream journal. It doesn’t have to be anything major – if you have interesting or weird dreams, just jot down a few notes about it before you go about your day. Then look back over the journal in about a year’s time to see how your wellness journey has affected your midnight meanderings. Chances are you’ll see a pattern in which your dreams improve a great deal over time.
Your relationships are healthy and (relatively) drama free.
Whenever humans interact with one another, there’s bound to be occasional drama or conflicts. This will likely be inevitable until we all get psychic enough that we can read each other’s thoughts clearly so there aren’t any miscommunications.
That said, when you’re in a healthy spiritual space, the majority of your personal interactions are quite harmonious. You interact with others in a healthy, joyful manner, and don’t take personal offense to their missteps. If arguments start to arise, you can see where they’re stemming from and approach the situation with compassion and grace rather than knee-jerk defensiveness or cruelty.
Furthermore, you feel comfortable and confident with the people in your life. You don’t cling out of fear of abandonment because you know you’re a complete person whether you’re in a romantic relationship or not. You might even have better relationships with your family members because you have the perspective to see them as people who have their own issues to deal with, and thus have more compassion for them.
Tolstoy once wrote: “when you understand everything you can forgive everything.” That might be an over-exaggeration for some people as some situations really can be unforgivable, but for most things it rings true. When you understand why people act the way they do, that will often diffuse the anger you feel about their actions.
As such, you can likely see how that can reduce drama exponentially. Instead of being riled up by someone’s poor behavior and retaliating to teach them a lesson, you can see that they’re hurting, or frustrated and feeling trapped, or avoiding something really awful that they can’t face or handle and are acting out accordingly.
You’re confident and comfortable upholding your personal boundaries.
When you’re in a position of spiritual wellness, you feel confident about prioritizing your personal needs – especially when it comes to boundaries. Instead of allowing others to manipulate you or make you feel obligated to do things that you don’t want to do, you recognize that you’re the one who gets to decide what you feel and what you do.
As a result, you don’t feel “bad” about telling others when something makes you uncomfortable just to keep the peace, nor do you have difficulty saying “no.” And if conflicts do arise from you upholding your boundaries, then you can step away from that situation for as long as you need to.
This is actually one of the key signs of spiritual wellness, because you recognize that maintaining this level of sacred health requires diligent care. See it like scooping debris out of a swimming pool on a daily basis. To keep your spiritual self strong and healthy, it’s best not to allow any grossness to accumulate. Sure, you can cover that pool with a canopy to keep most of it out, but the occasional leaf or insect will still fall in. The key is to remove it before it can become a contaminant, and get on with your day.
You don’t struggle with many irrational fears or anxieties.
This goes along with being able to sleep well at night.
People who are quite spiritually well tend not to be plagued with many irrational fears. They know that they can handle anything that life throws at them, even if it’s pretty serious.
In fact, they might be able to face awful situations or health concerns with a fair bit of grace and calm. They recognize that pain is inevitable as they walk through life, but that they can choose how to respond to these issues as they unfold.
When you’re spiritually well-balanced, you’re less likely to spiral into “what if” worries, especially about things that are beyond your control. You know that every problem has a solution, even if that solution is to relax into the storm and let it move you to the next phase of your life.
You may still have fears about certain situations, such as if you’re living in a tornado-prone area then it makes sense to worry about tornadoes. But you’re also secure in the knowledge that you have a safe room in the basement to retreat to when and if one occurs. You’ve packed it with everything you and your family would need to survive for at least a month, plus taken additional precautionary measures.
Yes, a tornado would suck. But you’d carry on afterwards and sort things out as needed.
How To Improve Your Spiritual Health
These are just a few recommendations to work on your spiritual wellness – feel free to adapt them to your individual needs. Alternatively, if there are techniques that aren’t listed below but that you know will suit you better, then by all means do those instead!
1. Take up some form of regular meditation or prayer.
It’s in periods of quiet stillness that we have the opportunity to develop greater self-awareness.
Some people distract themselves with music, TV playing in the background, and the company of others whenever possible so they don’t have to deal with their own thoughts. Quite often, this is because there are things weighing on them that they either don’t want to think about, or that scare them.
Running away and distracting oneself from these things doesn’t make them go away, however. In addition, it’s often only by really looking at something that’s bothering us that we can dispel the fear and aversion that goes along with it.
This is rather like insisting that a child look at their scraped knee while it’s being cleaned. They might be howling and freaking out because there’s blood all over their leg, but when they’re shown that it’s all coming from a tiny cut, and that the blood flow can be stopped with some gentle pressure, 99 times out of 100 they’ll calm right down.
More often than not, the reality of a situation is far less frightening or troubling than the assumptions around it.
If you don’t meditate on a regular basis and just do it now and then, you’re less likely to reap the benefits that clearing your mind and breathing deeply can yield. Instead, try to set aside 5 to 10 minutes a day at the same time to meditate or pray.
Some people like to do this first thing in the morning or just before bed, while others may do so in mid-afternoon. Just make sure to schedule it and keep to that schedule. This way, your meditation/prayer practice will become second nature, as well as something beautiful to look forward to every day.
From there, you can decide whether to extend this pause longer, or pause more frequently over the course of the day.
2. Spend more time outside in nature, away from electronic devices.
I recognize the irony in suggesting that while typing at my computer, but it’s precisely for this reason that I try to spend as much time outside as possible.
Take note of how much time you spend staring at screens on a daily basis. Do you work at a computer for 7+ hours a day? Then how many minutes do you spend on your phone before and after work? Do you watch TV in the evenings? And furthermore, are you on your phone or tablet while watching TV? Heck, do you read ebooks on a tablet or reader before bed?
Add up all that time and then think about what good it’s doing for you, plus how you can reduce screen time and go outside more.
For example, leave your phone at home when you go for a walk in the park, or down by a lakeside or beach, if there’s one nearby. Swap out ebooks for printed ones so you’re focusing on matte paper instead of pixelated surfaces. Then find a cozy spot to curl up in outside and spend some time reading out there.
You’ll soak up some vitamin D from the sunshine, be regaled with birdsong, and get plenty of fresh air.
You can also take up a hobby you can do with your hands while listening to audiobooks, like wood carving or similar. This way, you can make a proper mess outdoors while still being entertained.
3. Study many forms of spiritual practice to expand and enhance your own.
I’ve come across many people who have hesitated to look into what other religions and philosophies teach because that might cause them to question their own faith. In reality, this idea couldn’t be further from the truth.
Studying many different world religions and sacred practices can help you cultivate the spiritual path that’s ideal for you. And just about all faiths out there have both ideas and practices that can enhance and compliment one another’s.
For example, you can be Jewish AND maintain a regular yoga practice for the sake of physical health and emotional wellbeing. You can be a devout Celtic pagan and integrate the Jain/Buddhist concept of ahi?sa (non-violence) towards all living beings. Every faith has bits of beauty and wisdom that can be appreciated and even put into practice by anyone.
Whatever brings you closer to your concept of God/The Universe and brings you a sense of joy and peace can only improve your spiritual wellness. Furthermore, when you exude this type of wellness and tranquillity, you can’t help but improve the lives of everyone around you.
As a final note on this, spirituality really shouldn’t be a bubble that you hide in: it should nurture you, but should also challenge you. Question your beliefs constantly and keep checking in to make sure that they’re aligned with other aspects of your life.
4. Spend more time feeling like you (and what you do) are “enough.”
One of the most powerful mantras in the wellness world is the phrase “I am enough.”
A lot of people are immensely unkind to themselves, constantly pushing themselves to output when their wells have run dry. Sometimes it’s because they’ve been programmed to believe that their only worth is in how many tasks they can cram into a day, or how much money they make, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Your worth as a person is not determined by how much you do, or what you achieve. Nor is it determined by your level of able-bodiedness, neurotypical wiring, creativity, or academic standing.
You are enough, exactly as you are right now.
Try to avoid comparing yourself to others and feeling like your “less than” them because you don’t have their PhD, their high-status career, their level of physical fitness, or their possessions.
Every single person is on their own journey, and the lessons they’re learning and experiencing in this lifetime have been tailored for their spirits, much as yours are. As a result, we really can’t feel envious of one another: we’re immersed in the experiences that are helping us grow as individuals.
It’s okay if you don’t (or can’t) write an essay in a day because you can’t concentrate. Instead of berating yourself for not being good enough, redirect that energy to something that replenishes and inspires you. Sit in the sunshine and do some low-key restorative yoga. Or sleep, since that gives both body and mind the opportunity to rest and heal.
5. Focus on gratitude.
When your thoughts and emotions are spiralling, or you’re dealing with a crisis of faith, take a moment to be completely present and focus on some things that you are grateful for.
As an example, let’s say you’re at home and your family members are driving you crazy. Maybe you had a rough night and are feeling scattered, but the kids are fighting, you’re trying to figure out what to make for dinner because you can’t get out to the supermarket, you have a pounding headache and your mother-in-law keeps calling to tell you all the things you’re doing wrong.
To find clarity and spiritual peace in the midst of chaos, try to avoid trying to escape your current circumstances. Instead, aim to feel peace where you are in spite of what’s going on around you.
You can do this by not wishing that things were different or focusing on all the things you have to do. Lean into the discomfort instead and try to remember what you’re grateful for, right here and now.
Is the baby crying? Well, he’s probably crying for a reason other than simply to get on your nerves. Cuddle that little one since he’s not going to be little for much longer, and try to really connect with him to find out what he’s trying to communicate.
If the older kids are fighting over a toy or a show, redirect their energy by doing an art project together or getting them to help you bake some cookies. You’ll only have a bit of precious time with them at this age, and whatever else is stressing you out right now, you can set it aside and simply BE.
Don’t pick up the phone if the person calling is bound to stress you out. Make a cup of tea as soon as the little ones have quieted down, and bring your attention back to the gratitude you feel for its warmth, its soothing flavors. Reduce your stress load by ordering in pizza or making grilled cheese for supper, and revel in every delicious bite.
Every single moment we’re alive is an opportunity to redirect our attention on things that we’re grateful for rather than the ephemeral annoyances that flow in and out of our existence. When you can do that, all those irritations actually become blessings because they bring us back to what’s actually important.
6. Be of service to others.
In the same way that your natural peace and spiritual attunement can help to elevate others around you, so can they be a source of strength for the benefit of others.
No matter where you’re at in your life, you can do something to help other life forms in the world around you. For example, Alyssa K. Silva is a disabled designer who can only move one of her fingers intentionally, and she uses that finger to design beautiful greeting cards to inspire and comfort other people.
Places of worship can always do with good help. See if your faith community needs assistance writing newsletters or keeping their social media presence updated. Maybe help out with some outreach work with elders in the community, or help at-risk youth develop some solid life skills.
If you’re not much of a people person and prefer nature instead, then turn your focus to the natural world around you. Volunteer to do beach cleanup work, or to help replenish native plants to revitalize a depleted local ecosystem. Create feeders to help nourish migratory birds, plant milkweed to feed Monarch butterflies. Check sites like GoodWork or other non-profit hubs to see where you might be able to put your own unique skill sets to good use.
As you can see, spiritual wellness spans many different areas, and affects us on many levels. We can improve this wellbeing exponentially with just a bit of TLC and patience with ourselves. And when we do that, it causes a ripple effect that makes everything else around us just a bit brighter.
The one thing to keep in check here is to avoid being pushy or proselytizing about it. There’s lot of “holier-than-thou” behavior in the wellness world, and whether someone is obsessive about vegan or keto diets, crossfit, or a particular religious path, they can get super self-righteous about it. In their zeal to “help” other people by pushing their ideals onto them, they can cause damage and alienation to those closest to them.
This kind of self-righteous behavior is what has led to people of some faiths being persecuted by others: because they weren’t following the “right” one and needed to either be forcibly converted or “saved” for their own good. People have willingly died for the sake of their faith – which has been noble in certain circumstances – but they have also killed for it.
Your particular flavor of spiritual wellness isn’t necessarily someone else’s, and they have to determine what’s best for them when the time is right. You can be encouraging if and when they come to you for advice, but don’t offer it if it’s unsolicited. When you’re walking your own path in grace and harmony, you’ll exude enough light that others will know they can come to you for guidance if they need to.
You may also like:
- 8 Spiritual Goals You Should Set Yourself Right Now
- 12 Signs That You Are Shifting To A Higher Level Of Consciousness
- 8 Traits Of A Spiritually Mature Person
- 8 Emotional Self-Care Strategies: Take Care Of Yourself Emotionally
- 18 Elements Of An Effective Self-Care Routine