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. It's also the foundation on which you, as a patient and a person, build yourself.
Stamford Health's Planetree approach to person-centered care 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,” emphasized Dr. Joseph Feuerstein of Stamford Health’s Center for Integrative Medicine and Wellness.
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: think about these activities 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 experience 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. 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,” reiterated 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. Start small, even if you're just taking time to focus on your breath.
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. Do a quick internet search on 3-minute meditation videos and mindfulness apps such as Insight Timer. Then, make time each day to complete the steps above.
It’s important to realize the word “healing” inspires many thoughts and means something different to everyone. Try to instill this belief in both your personal and professional life in the face of new opportunities, setbacks and challenges.
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