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Coping with Mental Health Difficulties: How Spirituality Can Help

Miriam Slozberg

Spirituality means many things to different people, and can be expressed in an endless number of ways. Being able to explore this is an important way to understand our place in the universe, our journey through life, and our connection to the people and environment around us. Anyone who chooses to can find benefit in spirituality; but for those experiencing particular difficulties such as illness, loss, or mental health issues, embracing their spiritual side can be a real lifeline.

Options for treatment and coping

Mental health issues are very personal, and just as we humans are all individuals, mental health problems are unique and different for all those who experience them. The many methods of coping with them and treating them reflect this. The first thing you think of might be taking medication, and while this can prove useful for many, it is not the only option. Depending on your diagnosis, education, psychotherapy, peer support groups, social skills training, and gentle exercise may also help: as well as embracing your spiritual side. Discussing the options for treatment of mental health conditions and how well these might suit you is a key conversation with your healthcare professional – but do also discuss it with supportive friends or family members. Your existing spirituality may influence your choice, with some religions or spiritual lifestyles eschewing synthetic medications or procedures and being more in favor of a holistic approach.

Your personal spirituality

Spirituality is a broader term than “religion”, and while organized religions certainly invite connecting to spirituality, they are not the only option. Depending on your specific needs and coping mechanisms, some aspects of organized religion may do more harm than good: it is a very personal choice. Spirituality helps to provide a sense of connectedness, a higher purpose, a way of understanding and coping with life, and support through tough times. Through connecting with the world around you, spending more time in nature, taking time each day for calming and centering practices like yoga or meditation, opting to live in a more balanced and harmonious way, you can achieve a greater sense of calm and mental resilience. Finding an inclusive and tolerant spiritual community can also help to provide friendship and a valuable support network.

Take time to discover what spirituality means to you and how to nurture it. A balanced and varied approach to your lifestyle and treatment choices is the key to coping with mental health difficulties, which are just as individual as we are as people.

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