Spiritual Self-Care. How’s it going?

Dr Gary
By Dr GaryCA Latest Reply 2011-04-11 15:01:34 -0500
Started 2011-04-08 15:49:25 -0500

As we enter into a time of religious celebrations, it seems like an opportune moment to think about spirituality.

While you are taking care of your mind and body, are you also paying attention to your spiritual self-care?

Receiving a medical diagnosis, and moving forward with treatment and life management, can lead to a spiritual awakening. And having spiritual support for the road ahead can make all the difference in terms of coping with the challenges that spring up along the way, as well as maintaining a hopeful and optimistic attitude.

One of my clients told me that, after he received his diagnosis, he went home, turned on the stereo, and played his favorite music. He felt like he had never before heard it in the same way, that somehow he was able to hear it in a new way.

Another told me that coping with a chronic condition has made her appreciate all of the simple things in her life, especially the moments she spends taking care of her children. Wahcing them smile.

Another client returned to religious practices of his childhood, with a new appreciation for what they bring to his life, as well as for his parents’ spiritual values.

With spiritual self-care, one size does not have to fit all. Nor do the benefits. Taking care of your spiritual side can mean being more connected to the present moment, aware of what is important and what is not so important in life, connected to other people in a meaningful way, being guided by God, or a Higher Power. Basically, being connected to a greater meaning and purpose in life.

Here are some approaches to building more spiritual self-care into your life:

Meditation, contemplation, mindfulness. You might find it helpful to develop a regular meditation routine every day, or practice using mindfulness to stay aware of the present moment, spending some time in a quiet place to think about the meaning of your life, or to focus your mind on a positive idea or image.

Reading for inspiration. There are a lot of inspirational books available, not to mention Internet resources. Spend some time reading, even just a page or two, to give you a hand in maintaining an optimistic attitude. Build in a few minutes first thing in the morning, or at the end of the day (or better yet, both).

Enjoying what you most enjoy. It’s easy to fall into letting life happen around us, and forgetting to take time to honor ourselves by doing the things that we most enjoy. A medical condition can be a wake-up call to add more balance, including recreation and, yes, fun!

Prayer. Most religions encourage some form of prayer, as a way of communicating with a Higher Power, expressing appreciation, seeking guidance, and asking for help for ourselves and others. Prayer can make a big difference in your life. Have you given it a try?

Belonging to a spiritual community. Wherever two or more are gathered… Joining a church, synagogue, temple, or other spiritual community brings you into contact with people who share your spiritual values, who can help you to deepen your day-to-day experience of spirituality and provide emotional support.

Enjoying nature. The natural world around us is a constant reminder that we are a part of something larger than our daily experiences. When the weather cooperates, take quiet walks, sit outside and enjoy the sun, the breeze, the sounds of birds chirping and children playing in the park.

Embracing compassion. Accept yourself for who you are, celebrate your personal strengths as well as all the evidence that you are human and not superhuman. And then do the same for the other people in your life. Replace judgment with acceptance. Remind yourself: we are all in this world together.

Sharing, caring, volunteering. Put your compassion to work by doing something for someone in need. Help out a friend or family member, or a stranger in need, offer a few words of encouragement. Lend someone a listening ear. Put in an hour or two helping out with a cause that’s important to you.

Taking care of someone else? Caregiving is a spiritual experience in so many ways. It forces us to look at our basic beliefs about life, to face the reality of life on life’s terms that had up until this moment had been abstract, to experience what it means to put love into action. Caregiving can be a time of spiritual awakening.

The joys – but also the disappointments and sorrows – are all part of life. It’s an ongoing process of experiencing, learning, giving, receiving. Having a strong spiritual connection helps to provide you with a foundation to live life at its fullest.

Mind, body, spirit…

How are you taking care of your spirit? Any ideas to share?

29 replies

BandonBob 2011-04-11 10:55:23 -0500 Report

While my church is very important to me to keep me going I find that the thing that keeps me most positive is the work I do as a volunteer. I always get so much more back than I ever give.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2011-04-11 13:48:31 -0500 Report

HI Bob! It's been awhile! I also get a lot out of volunteering and I agree, when we give we get so much back. Thanks!

Gimpalong 2011-04-11 03:07:18 -0500 Report

Don't you find when you are involved helping someone else with their needs, that somehow our life challenges seem so much easier to bear? I find when I'm helping someone else cope with challenges, that I forget about "me" and then we are both coping with our challenges in a more positive way.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2011-04-11 15:01:34 -0500 Report

Absolutely. I think that helping someone else takes us out of ourselves, and helps us to focus on the bigger picture. It helps us to have a perspective on our own challenges, kind of shrinks them down to size instead of being bigger than life.

jayabee52 2011-04-11 10:52:13 -0500 Report

To be sure, Nancy! That was part of the reason I liked doing the work as a CNA. I could get out of myself and my problems and help others with theirs.

It was part of the reason my beloved "Jem" and I worked so well together. I was constantly looking out for her well-being, and she looked out for mine.

It was a fantastic relationship before she pssed from this life.


Gimpalong 2011-04-11 11:38:37 -0500 Report

I'm sorry for your loss. I can relate to that also. Ron was my best buddy, and also a great encourager and support person. I enjoy people. It doesn't make any difference what the age is. Have a wonderful week. Take care.


Gimpalong 2011-04-10 12:44:05 -0500 Report

Thank you for a very inciteful message. It's hard to be positive all the time, but if we put a smile on our face even when we don't feel like smiling, it seems to make a difference. When we can accept that we aren't perfect, or we don't know everythink, then we will be able to start down a more positive road to life. I am thankful daily for the support system I have at home, church, and the places that I volunteer.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2011-04-10 20:33:09 -0500 Report

Very well said! Thanks so much for your kind words. We can't be positive all the time and still be human, so I hope you don't beat yourself up too much. What we can be is honest with ourselves about how we feel, and decide to look for the positive in life, as you said so well. Having a lot of support from various sources helps us to stay on the path. Thanks again. And have a great week!!!

Gimpalong 2011-04-11 02:39:55 -0500 Report

No, I don't beat myself up. I've learned to live with my limitation, and a great life goes on, one day at a time. I hope you have a wonderful week, too. There are so many things to be grateful for daily if we are willing to look.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2011-04-11 13:33:33 -0500 Report

I like that. Live with your irritation. Those are words to live by -- we can't control everything and sometimes we just have to sit with being irritated, and then let it go. We can't deny it creeps in sometimes. Always something to be grateful for.

rentintin 2011-04-09 21:37:35 -0500 Report

Absolutely , that s the most important of all ! God keeps me in a peace that i am constantly managing to push away . Why do I think I can do it myself; and then I realize and go back where God is in control not me. Treating my diabetes liike I should is the way God wants me to take care of my self

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2011-04-10 08:34:49 -0500 Report

Fantastic! Taking responsibility, doing everything possible to be the best person that you can be. We can all learn from your words.

Lakeland 2011-04-09 21:06:59 -0500 Report

This is a tough subject for me. I believe in healing, I had encephelitis as a child & was expected to die. My mom was constantly praying for her baby & she had friends pray for me & I'm 43 years old. the doctor told her I'd be a vegetable if I survived. I have a few memory problems but I own my own business & am married.

So i believe in healing & it's so real to me,before I got diabetes, I would be able to give people hope with there illnesses, but I feel like a failure that I can't receive my healing. which I believe Jesus purchased for me on the cross — ( Isaiah 53)

I feel like a hypocrit & i still am believer, and a reader & studier of the Word, but I can't pray for anyone, I feel like a failure.


jayabee52 2011-04-10 15:51:13 -0500 Report

Well, Diane, I believe in healing too, and I believe that Isa 53 is true. However, that you have Diabetes (or other illnesses) doesn't make either God or you a failure.

I would like to direct your attention to 2 Corinthians 12:8-10. If anyone had faith in Jesus' sacrifice for him (and for us all) it would have been the Apostle Paul. Yet, in 2 Cor 12 Paul speaks about being afflicted "I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me" (v. 7) Paul then goes on to say: "8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. "(NIV)

God has very good reasons why He hasn't made brought it about where you could "receive my healing", Diane. That is up to God's purpose and timing for you.

I would like to discuss this further with you. But this board is not the best place to do so. Should you wish to discuss this further, please email me on the DC system.

No you are not a hypocrite! You are not a failure!

I can pray for you, and am praying for you. I am praying that God blesses you and that like Paul of Tarsus your weakness will be your God-given strength!

James Baker

Incmeister 2011-04-10 16:00:21 -0500 Report

Absolutely true! God put us each here with a weakness so that we may be made perfect in HIS strength. It is for total dependence on God that we are weak. I used to think I was worth nothing, but then I view the cross and realize I am worth the life of God! Diane, I believe this of you as well! I do not know the whole story but I will pray for you!
James, excellent examples. Keep on point us to scripture and keeping us grounded. We forget who we are at times!
Blessings brother!

Gimpalong 2011-04-10 12:32:37 -0500 Report

I don't think that you're a failure. It has been my experience in life, that when God says "no", there is usally someone that I will meet down the road of life. It is possible that they are experiencing something that I've already experienced and I can help them through their crisis. We can't see the master plan for our lives, but we can try our best to reach out to others and help them in a sincere, caring way.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2011-04-10 20:37:52 -0500 Report

I have been enjoying reading discussion. It leaves me reaffirming that we don't and can't know why life unfolds as it does. And as you said, we can do our best to be good to ourselves and to others, to do our best to make a positive impact on the world around us. And that's a lot!

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2011-04-10 08:31:39 -0500 Report

It seems to me that so much of life is not explainable, it just is. What I always try to do is to encourage people to face life on lfe's terms, to be the best person possible in spite of the challenges, to enjoy what's good in their lives, to accept that we don't and can't know everything. It sounds like you have had many successes in your life, as well as the challenges. You can be an inspiration to others through your strength and patience.

rentintin 2011-04-09 21:47:11 -0500 Report

Dont believe the enemies lies You are not a falure Its not always the way God works to heal people How else would those who dont know God realize that God can make life good even in the mist of trouble Like diabetes. Be what He wants you to be where you are. If he choses to heal then that is wonderful but if He doesnt that doesnt mean He doesnt love you any less, He just has a plan that you dont know about, Remember TRUST.That is what Christ wants —God is good have faith in his ways The cross was not a pleasant experience for Jesus but necessary for out salvation. Dont doubt the master plan.

donna62M 2011-04-09 19:26:45 -0500 Report

I personally don't believe in the church sustem and don't believe that you have to attend church to be a christian or to believe in god…My family and how I try to live my life and what you do in life are what i concentrate on…I'mspending Easter with my sisters and their families this Easter, They keep me connected and grounded and thankfull of what I have.

rentintin 2011-04-10 13:20:47 -0500 Report

Church is a support group you may embrace but the real strength comes from your personal relationship with God Thankfulness is a characteristic in people that I find always has great spiritual rewards.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2011-04-10 20:34:52 -0500 Report

Very nicely said. It really comes down to your own personal relationship, and how you express that relationship in your daily life. And you're right, we all haveso much to be thankful for.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2011-04-10 08:25:55 -0500 Report

Thanks, Donna. I think that there is more than one way to embrace your spirituality. Some people do it through a religous community, others find it through their daily interactions with people they care about, being a caring and generous person, enjoying family, staying focsed and grounded and appreciative. One size does not fit all. Hope you are having a good weekend!

tabby9146 2011-04-08 16:10:54 -0500 Report

yes spirituality is very important. I go to church every Sunday, and that helps me a lot! I pray daily, and I read a daily devotional. I grew up in the church so I have always done this. I work part-time as a church secretary. I used to do that many years ago too. I've been back and forth between all kinds of office jobs, but this one is my favorite and most rewarding I've ever had.