At school or university, we are often taught a specific set of skills we need to succeed in our professional lives, including time management, study strategies, and discipline, yet learning institutions can sometimes fail to address the psychological and social needs of students. According to recent research, one essential need we often overlook, is spirituality. Study after study has spoken loudly and clearly: people who are more spiritual, are happier.
Important Links between Spirituality and Mental Health
One fascinating study carried out in 2009, reported by Science Daily, showed that the key to children’s happiness, is spirituality. Other recent research on adults also showed that those who made time for organised spirituality, felt more joyful, and better able to cope with stress. Those who report that their lives have meaning and who develop deep, high quality relationships, generally enjoy a greater sense of well-being.
How Can Spirituality be Defined?
Spirituality does not necessarily involve following the tenets of one particular religion. Most academics agree that it involves belief in an all-powerful force that unites us with all other living things. Its universality extends to a plethora of different cultures, yet it is also a very personal idea that encompasses our most sacred realm. Religion, meanwhile, is defined as an institutionalised or organised type of spirituality.
What Mental Health Benefits does Spirituality Bestow?
Students can avail of the many documented effects that spirituality can have on their lives, including a greater sense of calm and grounding. Being part of a tolerant, inclusive community can also provide us with vital support and friendship. Spirituality has been found to soothe the symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.
One study in particular found that for every 10-point increase in a person’s religiosity, they enjoyed a 70% enhanced recovery from depression after an illness. Spirituality is a powerful tool that can be used to help us recover both from mental and physiological problems.
How Can You Enhance Your Spirituality?
If organised religion isn’t your thing, there are many ways you can pursue a more meaningful life. Yoga is a popular choice for many, since it unifies body, mind, and spirit, through the coordination of asanas (poses), breathing techniques, and mindfulness meditation.
Others seek to build a deeper connection with spiritual forces through practices such as tarot reading, which can be deeply relaxing, since it helps bolster a belief in a powerful world order we may not necessarily be able to fully comprehend. Similar to tarot reading is mediumship, which focuses helping people find answers to questions about their lives and about loved ones they have lost.
Spirituality can also be enhanced in Nature. Practices such as ‘forest bathing’ are currently all the rage, yet the American Indians and Aborigines in Australia have long seen an important link between nature and spirituality. For psychologists like Jung, meanwhile, spirituality was unattainable without beautiful natural landscapes, which remind us that all human beings have needs that extend beyond the material
Because spirituality is such a personal matter, you can freely choose the way you wish to hone it. Whichever means ignites your passion, know that it is worthy of pursuit. The academic life can be challenging and stressful, especially during exam time, so facing these times with a joyful, positive outlook, can help you breeze through it with grace.
This article is written by the lovely Jane Sandwood