As more and more research is done about what it takes to live a happier, longer life, there are mentions everywhere about the importance of being active, eating healthy and having a strong social network. But this post will examine one aspect of healthy aging that isn’t talked about as much: spiritual wellness. We’ll discuss senior spirituality and offer spiritual wellness tips. But before we do, we’ll establish, for the sake of the blog, the difference between being religious and being spiritual as well as talk about what is spiritual wellness.
Differences between being religious and being spiritual.
In general, a religious practice is based on a standard doctrine and guidelines for living a religious life. Like religion, spirituality involves believing in something bigger than yourself, but any doctrine or guidelines are less formal. A general spiritual wellness definition is having a life purpose or sense of meaning. Many religions also provide their practitioners with purpose and meaning, so they’re not mutually exclusive. Rather than discuss the practices that pertain to specific religions, we’ll focus our conversation by using the more general term spirituality, but there can be a lot of crossover between the two.
Benefits of spiritual wellness.
When it comes to meeting the spiritual needs of the elderly, a spiritual community can provide social connection as well as solace for health issues and other questions and concerns that come up as we age. Senior spirituality can also allow you to share your life experiences with younger people and help guide them on their own spiritual journey. This connection and sense of meaning have been shown to help relieve anxiety, lower blood pressure and improve overall heart health.
Boosting your spiritual wellness.
Whether you consider yourself very spiritual or you’re just starting your spiritual journey, here are some spiritual wellness tips, including some spiritual activities for seniors, to help grow and/or deepen your sense of meaning and purpose.
Practice breathing: You breathe all the time, so you’re not practicing your breathing as much as paying attention to your breathing. By following where your breath goes, you’ll also be paying attention to your body, which can help you feel more centered and relaxed.
Practice gratitude: It’s easy to rush through life and only focus on the things that don’t go your way. But when you start to notice and appreciate the small moments of joy and happiness that happen to you every day, you’ll slowly begin to see more and more of those moments.
Practice wonder: When we were much younger, we were amazed by the smallest things. But the things that amazed us back then — a sunset, a bird soaring in the sky, a shooting star — haven’t become less wonderful. We just started overlooking them. By practicing wonder, we can reconnect ourselves to the world around us.
Practice creativity: It’s probably been a while since you drew or painted or wrote for fun. But practicing creativity isn’t about being good at artistic expression. It’s about giving yourself permission to try something new. That could be drawing, painting, dancing, etc. But it could also be anything that gets you to see or experience the world differently, like trying a new recipe, going to a new restaurant or reading a new book.
Practice kindness: Life can feel unpredictable and out of control. And when things don’t go our way, it’s easy to get frustrated. Practicing kindness involves treating others the way we want to be treated. Giving someone the benefit of the doubt or making a small gesture like a smile. It’s easy to do and can benefit you and the other person.
Practice releasing: As we age, we can become burdened by the things we collected throughout our lives. By voluntarily letting go of things you no longer need like excess possessions, unrealistic expectations of others and ourselves, and old grudges and resentments, you can discover new energy and freedom.
Practice connecting: Studies show that those with significant social ties are happier and healthier. But like anything, forming and maintaining friendships takes practice. Don’t wait for others to contact you — pick up the phone, write that note, invite a new neighbor for coffee, or send your grandchild an email.
Practice resting: While the society we live in tends to validate productivity and busyness, taking a planned rest can give you a different perspective. Giving yourself permission to do nothing can also help renew and restore yourself, giving you the energy to do the things that really matter.
Practice making music: You don’t have to be musical to practice making music. You could sing in the shower, with a choir or with the radio. If singing isn’t your thing, you could join a drum circle or bell choir. If you that still doesn’t feel quite right, you could always dance to the music that others make. Being even a small part of musical expression allows you to join in something bigger.
Practice being yourself: Eventually, we stop worrying about what other people think about us and choose to be true to ourselves. To practice being yourself, start doing the things that bring you joy, and quit doing the things that don’t. It’s a great time to rediscover parts of yourself that you may have left behind while pursuing career goals or raising a family.
A friend along the path.
If you’re looking for a community of social, active seniors who have similar interests, goals and life experiences and are pursuing the things that make them happy, consider Hamlet at Chagrin Falls. To expand your view of retired living, explore our website.