When many people think of wellness a couple of things come to mind pretty quickly. I don’t think I’m alone when I say that physical fitness and healthy eating pop up first in my mind. And while physical wellness is a worthy aspiration, I believe the other areas of wellness are equally as important if you want to live life to it’s fullest potential. Without emotional wellness fear, anxiety, and depression may set in. A lack of financial wellness leads to a path of emotional and social wellness deficiencies. But an often overlooked area of wellness for many people is their spirituality.
I’ll be upfront with you. I’m a pastor at a Christian church, but I’ve written this article with people of all faiths in mind. Whether you’re Christian or Atheist, Hindu or Muslim, your spiritual well-being plays a large role in the fulfillment you have in your life. For many, spiritual wellness brings them a sense of purpose, a cause to join, a mission to strive for. Without spiritual wellness you may find yourself lost, wondering what your purpose is. You may find yourself looking for something more than the day to day grind of work and play. Being spiritually well allows us to see life from a different perspective; one that’s bigger than ourselves.
Here’s 5 ways to ensure spiritual wellness.
The first way to ensure spiritual wellness is to find community. Most of us have felt the sting of loneliness at some point in our lives (we all experienced the Covid shutdown right?). Finding a community to belong to gives you the opportunity for relationships that can bless you in more ways than you think. When something happens in your life that you want to celebrate, being with like minded people makes it better. When things aren’t so good, the support and camaraderie that a community can bring is unmatched.
Being with a like minded group of people can help give you focus on the things you want to do. Whether that be a church that helps you focus on serving others, a local sports club that allows you to focus on connecting with friends, or a volunteer organization that you partner with on a regular basis, the relationships that you form there make a lasting impact on you, whether you realize it or not.
The second way to ensure spiritual wellness is to work in a rhythm of prayer or meditation to your daily structure. Prayer for most religions is the primary way to communicate and connect with God. The goal of prayer doesn’t have to be anything more or less than that. But, that’s not to say that spending time in prayer or meditation doesn’t affect us in our lives.
Spending time in prayer/meditation centers us on the things that matter. This time allows us to see the world from a different perspective. In this time you may be moved to think about your life, the issues going on in your life, or maybe even the issues of the world. Many people will be reminded of wrongs they have committed in the past, and will be moved to reconcile them.
If you believe in God, prayer is a way to ask God to intercede on behalf of others. This puts the emphasis on something other than you. It’s humbling and it changes the way you view yourself and the people around you.
The third way to ensure spiritual wellness is to rest. In August of 2020 my wife and I took custody of a newborn foster baby. Let me tell you, the first couple of weeks were rough. We had to get up three times a night each to feed him, let alone all the times we just had to console him.
I remember the first time he slept through the night. I woke up, looked at my alarm clock, and it said 4:00. That's one of the times I’d usually get up to feed him or at least put his pacifier back in his mouth. He was quiet... I rolled over and my wife was awake too. Our bodies had grown accustomed to waking up at this time. I asked her if she had been up with him at all, and it turned out she hadn't. He didn't wake up that morning until 7:00! To say that was a good week would be an understatement. We both felt well rested, productive, and like we could take on the world.
But sleep isn't the only type of rest that helps us to have a healthy spiritual life. In the Christian faith we take a hold of the idea of the “Sabbath”. This is a day set aside for the sole purpose of rest. In today's day and age this is somewhat of a lost art, but taking one day a week where you can rest is incredibly important. This means no work emails, no meetings, just relaxation and enjoyment. Without rest we run the risk of burnout. If we're burnt out, we can't effectively do much of anything, let alone ministry.
So set aside a day. A whole day. Put it in your calendar and let people know that you're unavailable. Do whatever you can that day to help you rest.
The fourth way to ensure spiritual wellness is to serve. Serving others means denying yourself, taking emphasis off of yourself, and putting it onto other people. When we serve we begin to view others differently. We begin to see their worth; we begin to see them worthy of respect, love, and sacrifice. Service changes our perspective from one who is greater than others to one who is below. Service changes our perspective, our attitudes, and our spirits.
I could give you a list of things to go and do, but I’m afraid this would turn into a to-do list. If service is simply a task oriented thing, then the heart behind it isn’t there. Richard Foster says "Service is not a list of things that we do, though in it we discover things to do. It is not a code of ethics, but a way of living. To do specific acts of service is not the same thing as living in the Discipline of service."
Find ways to intentionally serve other people. Whether it be volunteering at your church or another organization, make sure to take some emphasis off of yourself.
The fifth way to ensure spiritual wellness is to give. I know what some of you may be thinking. "Here we go. Here’s the pastor asking for my money. “Hang with me for a moment. Similar to what we said about service, generosity is another way to take the emphasis of life off of yourself. When the emphasis of your life is taken off of yourself, your perspective changes.
But beyond serving others, and even beyond blessing others through your generosity, being a generous person brings blessings to yourself. That is not to say that you should give with selfish motivations in order to be blessed, but it is to say that giving is a spiritual matter.
Be on the lookout for people in need. You could give to a neighbor going through a rough time, a nonprofit organization, a church, or any number of places. Some of you might be worried about giving money because you don’t know how it’ll be spent. That’s understandable, but don’t use that as an excuse to not be generous. If that’s you, you can always give gift cards, pay for specific projects, or even be generous with your time.
Generous people are fun to be around. Joy exudes out of them. I don’t know about you, but I don’t meet a lot of stingy people that I want to be around. I don’t meet a lot of stingy people that seem to be very satisfied with their lives. Generosity brings joy and blessing, not just to whoever you give to, but to yourself as well.