Every phase of life has a spiritual dimension. For seniors, spirituality and spiritual well-being often take on greater meaning and importance. Faith in times of uncertainty through religion and spirituality now feels even more relevant with the presence of Coronavirus and COVID-19. Let’s review the fundamentals of senior spirituality and spiritual wellness for seniors to see how they can help fortify your emotional and mental health during this challenging time and beyond.
What is spiritual wellness?
A starting point may be to consider the premise that man’s deepest desire is to search for meaning and purpose. For all people, but especially for seniors who may begin to feel a growing sense of loss as life progresses, possessing a certain attitude can make a profound difference in one’s inner peace and spiritual well-being. This attitude translates to the realization that we alone control our ability to choose our attitude and response in any given set of circumstances. Thus, the person you become is the result of an inner decision and not one of outside influences alone. Holding on to your moral and spiritual self turns any experience, no matter how difficult, into an inner triumph.
Coping through spirituality.
Senior spirituality is tested in the face of new health concerns, progressively limited mobility, changes in one’s sense of purpose, the loss of friends or a spouse — not to mention the unsettling “unknowns” of COVID-19. To strengthen your spiritual wellness, try to revisit your core values and keep them in your daily life. Doing so will help you connect to a deeper meaning that will nurture your spiritual health. For many, the expanded social setting of a senior living community can provide new and varied opportunities to develop fresh, effective spiritual connections.
Practical examples that aid spirituality.
The journey to spiritual wellness for seniors can take different paths for different people, but the mile markers along the way can have a common theme. Try to concentrate on tasks that bring fulfillment, increase your joy and peace, and grow your spiritual life. They can be spiritual activities outside religious services alone.
Meditation can be helpful in attaining lower blood cortisol levels, diminished anxiety, a lower heart rate and deeper relaxation. It may also increase your spiritual awareness and sense of peace. The form of meditation you take up could involve the guidance of a personal instructor, or simply practicing deep breathing and relaxation on your own. Repeating a mantra to help you focus and feel the loving kindness around you is sure to have a calming effect as we spend more time indoors.
Being social is still an option, even from a distance. We are social beings, and even a stay-at-home order won’t change that. People with rich relationships report lower levels of depression, stronger immune systems and improved cognition. If you can’t be with friends or loved ones in person, pick up the phone, make a video call using Skype or FaceTime, send an email, text or instant message. You might even write a letter. Our spiritual well-being comes, in part, from connecting with people. You can read more about using technology to keep in touch with loved ones here.
Feeling gratitude can be a fulfilling, enriching experience. True gratitude transcends the act of being thankful. It leads to a more profound appreciation of all you’ve been given and still retain. It leads to a better understanding of all you still have to give. It’s a habit that generates positivity and can improve sleep, self-esteem and mental strength.
Get outside in the open air. Feel the breeze and the sun on your skin. Smell the flowers and vegetation. Simply walking at your own pace is a form of spiritual connection. Seeing and hearing the life around you is renewing to the soul. Making the outdoors part of your daily experience will reenergize your body and restart your sense of hope.
Embrace your religion. Connecting with your religious community can offer great solace in trying times. A religious practice can help you find meaning in life events and provide ways to cope. Health care researchers have found that people who actively participate in their faith have better health outcomes and lower rates of anxiety and depression.
Make something. You don’t need to be a great artist to create something of value. The act of engaging in an artistic endeavor can be deeply enriching. Just let yourself attempt to draw, paint, make music, write or sing. Art helps people process emotions that are otherwise difficult to talk about. It can help you work through negative emotions and contribute to a greater sense of self.
Helping others and dedicating time and energy to a cause you believe in inspires a sense of purpose. It also improves self-confidence and helps connect you to a community of like-minded people. Think about small acts you can do to brighten someone else’s day. Are there ways of playing games or music with neighbors from a distance? How can you safely volunteer your time and energy to someone in need? Here are some ideas about volunteering to consider. If you remain open to these opportunities, they’ll emerge.
Spiritual wellness is part of overall wellness.
COVID-19 is causing many of us to reconsider how we spend our time. Try to think of this situation as an opportunity, rather than just a challenge. Look for the good you can do to help others. Watch for ways to grow and learn. And consider how you’re using your time at home. Striving for spiritual wellnesss can help in each of these areas. Concentrate on what brings fulfillment and increases joy and peace — particularly those activities that grow your spiritual life.
Edgemere invites you to explore the many dimensions of wellness available to residents of our community. From wellness programming and activities to our exclusive relationship with the nationally renowned, research-based Masterpiece Living® and its four key components of successful aging, Edgemere offers living options in a healthy, socially connected, spiritually rich environment.
For more on the spiritual wellness activities at Edgemere, please call 214.265.9100 to speak with an Edgemere team member or contact us directly.