Jacque reflects on the links between practising spirituality and mental health.
Recently I’ve been reading around the topic of spirituality and mental health. Some of the findings are really interesting, some I am completely unsurprised by and a few make me want to put my head in my hands and despair.
These include a survey of the impact of spirituality on a person’s mental health that uses a sample population from a church; another survey that uses exclusively Christian language when talking about broader spirituality; and my favourite is a survey with a very broad definition of spirituality, which says that spirituality is:
- Having a sense of purpose
- Connection to others
- Those activities that give meaning and value to people’s lives.
If, with that definition, they had managed to find anything other a positive relation between spirituality and good mental health I think my entire world view would have been somewhat vigorously shaken.
This has got me thinking about what aspects of spirituality we deem most important to our mental wellbeing. What impact would you notice if some of these aspects were removed? Which aspect makes the biggest impact?
For example, if I pray less I get more irritable with people and much less patient when people annoy me. If I use The Examen (An Ignatian spiritual exercise for reflecting on the day) I feel more settled inside, and better prepared for the following day. If I stopped going to church I would really miss the community that that brings. Honestly, I think it would take longer for me to notice the affects if I stopped reading the Bible altogether. I wonder, if we stopped singing together would I engage my brain less for the sermons?
I would really love to know other people’s thoughts on this, so feel free to drop me an email or leave me a comment below.Tags: mental healthfaith in action