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Spiritual Well-Being

Learn the importance of a personal world view that provides a sense of peace and harmony, and enables one to cope and adapt throughout life - with the ultimate goal of finding meaning and purpose in the face of challenges.

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Spirituality may be thought of as that which gives meaning and a feeling of vitality to one’s life. When people connect with their spirituality, they feel centered, calm and energized. Spirituality is a powerful aspect of the human experience that can help fuel one’s efforts to achieve wellness in the face of life’s challenges and obstacles, including a diagnosis of MS.

Religious beliefs may or may not be central to a person’s spirituality. For some, religion is the driving force or organizing principle of their spirituality. For others, spirituality is reflected in their connection to nature, other people, art forms, or anything else that gives their lives particular meaning.

Many times in life people become aware of being on a spiritual journey, most often when confronted by a major shift or crisis. The Chinese character for crisis consists of two characters, one being for danger and the other for opportunity. Each crisis brings fears about the uncertain future but also opportunities for growth, including:
  • Becoming more self-aware
  • Discovering inner strengths and resources
  • Finding meaning in the challenge
  • Discovering greater balance, harmony and purpose
  • Changing feelings of powerlessness into feelings of creative strength
  • Finding opportunities for personal growth and increased resilience
  • Deepened, more meaningful relationships with others
If you imagine life as a path – and crises or challenges as detours along the way – the following resources can help you navigate the journey.
In this article

Recognizing the emotional impact

Grief is a natural reaction to loss. Whether it’s the loss of a loved one, a diagnosis of MS, a change in one’s ability function or any other disruption in one’s life path, healthy grieving is the first step toward healing. The grieving process sets the stage for goal-setting, creative problem-solving and personal growth. 

Identifying what drains you and sustains you

Dealing with changes and challenges takes energy. Given that fatigue is one of the most common and challenging MS symptoms, it is helpful to identify the things in your life that drain you physically and emotionally, as well as the things in your life that stimulate, fuel and replenish you.

Getting your priorities in order

When energy is limited and life’s challenges seem to create endless hurdles, it is helpful to prioritize the ways you spend your energy – both physical and emotional – and time. Focusing your energies on the things that are most important to you, and most in line with your goals and personal values, is part of staying on your spiritual path.

Connecting with your true self

Part of a spiritual journey is connecting with one’s true self – the self that recognizes and trust its own motives, emotions and ideas, recognizes its strengths and weaknesses, acts in ways that reflect personal values and needs, and allows true intimacy with others.

Building spirituality into your life

Daily life often feels too pressured to allow time for inner reflection, awareness of feelings – our own and others’ – and personal growth. Finding and maintaining one’s spiritual self involves carving out time and space to explore, nurture and refuel one’s inner self, to focus with intention on opportunities for change and growth and to remain open to new ideas, feelings and ways of interacting with the world.

Maintaining balance in your relationships

A person’s life challenges, including the unpredictable symptoms of MS, also affect close family and friends – at times altering the roles and responsibilities in a relationship, impacting shared activities, challenging intimacy, requiring a redefinition of shared plans and goals. Working to maintain balance and connection in valued relationships is part of one’s spiritual path.

Additional resources

Apps
  • Headspace: Guided Meditation and Mindfulness
  • Calm: Meditation to Relax, Focus and Sleep Better
Websites
  • Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care and Society: http://www.umassmed.edu/cfm/: general information and research about mindfulness
  • HelpGuide.org: https://www.helpguide.org/harvard/benefits-of-mindfulness.htm: information about mindfulness and tips to get you started
  • UCLA Health: http://marc.ucla.edu/mindful-meditation: free guided meditations
  • Pocket Mindfulness: https://www.pocketmindfulness.com/6-mindfulness-exercises-you-can-try-today/: simple mindfulness exercises
  • The Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/thai-nguyen/benefits-of-journaling-_b_6648884.html: article describing the benefits of journaling
Books
  • Choosing Happiness: Life and Soul Essentials – Stephanie Dowrick
  • Intimacy and Solitude – Stephanie Dowrick
  • Self-Nurture: Learning to Care for Yourself as Well as You Care for Others – Alice Domar
  • Solitude: A Return to the Self – Anthony Storr

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