Published on September 05, 2017

Finding Your Way Through Spiritual Wellness

#RealLifeRx: Insight from Chief Medical Officer, Sharon Kiely

Sharon Kiely, MD, Senior Vice President, Medical Affairs & Chief Medical Officer in collaboration with Reverend ReBecca Sala, Director of Pastoral Care and Joseph Feuerstein, MD, Family Medicine and Integrative Medicine

This post was inspired by a reader who asked for guidance for healing in the mind and spirit. The answer involves a multidisciplinary team collaboration—thank you to everyone involved.

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An important, and often misunderstood, part of health is related to healing the unique spirit within our patients and us as healthcare providers. Spirituality is the foundation on which we build an understanding of our patients. The Planetree approach to patient centered care that Stamford has adopted is consistent in placing this importance front and center. “There is a very robust body of evidence that shows a link between overall health and a connection to a higher power—[ultimately] to something greater than yourself,” emphasis Dr. Joseph Feuerstein of Stamford Health’s Center for Integrative Medicine and Wellness.

Water lily. Finding Your Way Through Spiritual Wellness - Stamford Health Blog Here are some ways to reconnect with your spiritual side.

1. Ask yourself, “What do I love to do that 'feeds my spirit?'" Simple things like connecting with your family or with friends, playing with pets, gardening, listening to music or to the ocean and taking a walk are good examples. When you are engaged in these activities, time passes quickly and you experience positive feelings. The first step is to think about these things and try to get them into your life at least 2-3 times a week.

2. Ask yourself, “What do I do that drains my energy, or spirit?'" This is a surprising learning for many people. Take note if you feel irritable or just not so good during and after some activities. An example is the overuse of social media. So disconnect when possible and you may find time for more of the things, people and activities that feed your spirit. There still are only 24 hours in a day! According to Reverend ReBecca Sala, Director of Pastoral Care at Stamford Hospital, we’re saturated with and burning out from information, so much so that we often lose sight of the importance of mindfulness. “At some point, it’s OK to just stop listening. Put the phone away—turn the TV off,” reiterates Sala. There’s no wrong answer, as long as you stay present in the task at-hand.

3. Ask yourself, “Do I have 3 minutes a day to help improve my health?” If your answer is yes use that time to meditate. Your mind has a tremendous effect on your physical and spiritual health. As an example, daily meditation can improve blood pressure, anxiety and certain types of pain.

4. Next question:“How do I get started?” There are many resources to get you started. You can take a class or go to your library for videos and books. However, here is one reason to connect to the Internet- because there are so many options that I love. There are free examples of 3 minute meditation and free apps such as Insight Timer available at https://insighttimer.com/guided-meditations

A Word from Dr. Kiely:
It’s important to realize the word “healing” inspires many thoughts and means something different to everyone. As a healthcare institution, we feel, see and teach healing as a universal concept. I try to instill this belief in both my personal and professional life in the face of new opportunities, setbacks and challenges. Tell me what’s worked for you and help me to inspire the next #RealLifeRx blog post.

Dr. Sharon Kiely, Chief Medical Officer, Stamford HospitalAbout Dr. Kiely

Sharon Cabrina Kiely, MD, has over 30 years of experience caring for patients. She is board certified in Internal Medicine and has spent her career as a leader in medicine in hospitals, the classroom and administrative positions. Read more...