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Many people who come to coaching have a desire to explore their life’s meaning and purpose. Maybe you recognize that feeling and crave guidance. Or, maybe you haven't quite identified the underlying drive. This article discusses spiritual wellness, and how to improve it to build a more balanced life.
One of my favorite coaching perspectives is to hold clients as naturally creative, resourceful, and whole. What does that even mean? It means that all those that are seeking coaching already have the answers within them. There is nothing wrong or broken about them; they simply need guidance on their journey.
From my coaching experience, all coaching clients come in asking for the “how.” This can be but is not limited to, how to get promoted, delegate responsibilities, be inclusive leaders, or establish goals aligned with their new roles. These are great coaching topics and focus areas; however, that’s not what will get them the lasting change they are striving for.
A major component of accessing and enabling the naturally creative and resourceful is a holistic wellness approach. This includes personal, physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual wellness.
What is a holistic approach to wellness?
Many areas of our lives can be easily attributed to our professional success and subjective well-being, so it’s important to consider the relationships between them.
For example, personal issues may occupy our mind while we’re at work, leading to a loss in productivity and engagement—and possibly even job loss. Focusing on personal wellness and mending these issues can allow us to improve our performance at work. Similarly, stress at work can lead to irritability and the inability to focus. We can combat this through both emotional wellness—or learning to control our emotions—and physical wellness—such as going on a run to improve our mood.
We don’t always have to be living in a holistic wellness state, but we do need to create awareness for ourselves to understand when we are in that state and when we are not. Tools like the self-care wheel can reveal areas for improvement in our lives. While it’s common to focus on areas like physical or personal wellness, spiritual wellness is usually the least often discussed—through a crucial component of holistic wellness.
What is spiritual wellness?
Spiritual wellness involves finding your life’s meaning and purpose and understanding the values, beliefs, and morals that guide your actions.
|Spiritual wellness is not:||Spiritual wellness is:|
|Being a deeply religious person.||Having a relationship with yourself, your heart, and your soul (essence of your being and life purpose).|
|Going to a worship place on a regular basis.||Having a relationship with The Divine (God).|
|Forcing a set belief system on self and expecting others to follow.||Having a relationship with people around you and, and relating to your environment and culture.|
|Living life according to rigid rules and cultural norms.||Experiencing life according to your life purpose and values.|
|Doing what you want to do, and not caring for what others think because your way and belief system is the right way to live.||Committing to your life purpose, values, and faith. Surrendering to “what is” (anything that is here in the present moment).|
As you explore this list, what comes up for you? Where do you think you currently are according to the above table? What does it mean to live from a spiritual wellness perspective? What do you gain from that?
Why is spiritual wellness important?
When we strengthen our spiritual wellness, we:
- Strengthen our relationships with others around us.
- Breathe positivity into the spaces we occupy.
- Impact our lives in a way that supports our life purpose and values.
- Are mindful and at peace as we connect with others.
- Are more likely to practice self-compassion, confidence, and resilience.
- Are accountable and responsible for our own actions.
Based on the benefits listed above, we can enjoy a prosperous life. Being more connected to our life purpose and values grounds us into who we are as individuals. This grounding can manifest in a better relationship with ourselves and others around us. Gaining a deeper connection to self leads to increased self-awareness, which supports how we think and behave.
Slowing down and being mindful are benefits of spiritual wellness. Mindfulness supports us to be more present and focus on the moment. Mindfulness is a tool to practice our faith (our connection to The Divine) and helps us be more self-compassionate and better cope with adversities. Our choices in life are more resonant with who we are as individual humans and when we respond to any situation, we respond with less reactivity and more creativity.
What is spiritual fitness?
Embracing spiritual wellness practices in our life builds our spiritual fitness. Spiritual fitness is the overall health of our spirituality. It’s a way of living according to what motivates us and engages us in life.
How do you know that you are spiritually fit?
|Spiritually drained (not fit)||Spiritually fit|
|I am pessimistic about the future of my life.||I am optimistic about the future of my life.|
|I engage in immoral behavior and decisions.||I engage in sound and moral behavior and decisions.|
|I am envious of others and hold grudges.||I am compassionate and forgiving of myself and others.|
|I have little respect for others and abandon my core values and beliefs.||I have great respect for others and am committed to my core values and beliefs.|
|I lead from my mind only.||I lead from my mind, heart, and soul.|
|I feel that my life is without purpose, and nothing has meaning, not even my family or friends.||I am motivated and engaged in my life and its meaning and I enjoy being with my family and friends.|
Where do you see yourself with spiritual fitness? It’s perfectly fine if you are spiritually fit in some ways, and spiritually drained in others. Awareness is the first step to making a difference for yourself and your life.
Let’s look at physical fitness, for example. When someone says that they are physically fit, what do they mean?
- They likely have adopted a certain physical practice that they keep up with.
- They feel good about their body and health.
- When they get sick, they are likely to bounce back to their healthy state more rapidly.
- They live a lifestyle conducive to movement and physical activity.
Now, what can you do to live with spiritual fitness and practice spiritual wellness?
How to use spiritual wellness activities to improve your spiritual health
The journey to spiritual wellness will look different for everyone. Find what works for you, your beliefs, and your lifestyle.
9 activities to improve your spiritual wellness:
- Nature bathing: Spend some time in, and with, nature. Walk around your neighborhood or a nearby park, or go for a hike, as you breathe in the fresh air. Sit on the beach and dip your toes in the water. Get away for a weekend camping trip, and sleep under the stars.
- Watch sunset or sunrise: These are some calming times that allow you to reflect on The Creator’s creation and have an appreciation for the basics of life. Sunrise opens your body to start the day with calmness, and sunset completes your day with peace.
- Self-reflection: Reflect on your day, week, month, or year. Reflection allows you to go deeper into yourself and allow the connection with your heart and soul. This can be powerful as you are searching for your life purpose, values, and faith. You may journal or record yourself on a video or audio and allow your thoughts and feelings out.
- Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness opens the door to The Divine (God). It enables us to be more compassionate with ourselves and others, be more forgiving, and be more focused on the present moment. Try to practice for 5-10 minutes per day.
- Incorporate prayers in your daily routine: You can use your faith to support your connection with The Divine (God). Please note that faith is not religion. Faith is a way of connecting with The Divine (God). Religion is the specific language used to communicate faith.
- Volunteer: Support your community by volunteering your time to build a new home, sort out clothes for those in need, or pack food for the hungry. Getting involved in a project for the betterment of humanity strengthens your compassion for others and yourself.
- Determine your life purpose and values: There are many resources that you can use to help you find your life purpose and values, including working with a professional coach.
- Join spiritual groups: Participating in spiritual groups and communities supports your connection with others, allows for deeper reflection, and provides an opportunity to learn with—and from—others. You may find some options on social media, or ask a nearby spiritual organization.
- Express gratitude: Be grateful for all you have, including food, a family, a support system, success, and anything else that stands out. Research has shown that expressing gratitude supports spiritual wellness. You may express gratitude verbally to yourself or others, or you may simply feel or sense gratitude and wish it for yourself and others. You may also express gratitude through your actions and behaviors, such as picking up breakfast for a colleague on the way to work.
Final thoughts on spiritual wellness
Spiritual wellness is a part of balancing your life. When you take the time to care for your spiritual health as part of a holistic wellness approach, you can reach the promotion, delegate responsibilities, be an inclusive leader, and set up goals aligned with your new role with more ease. And you can live a meaningful life connected to your core values, beliefs, and morals.
BetterUp Fellow Coach, MBA, CPCC, PCC, BCC