Your spirit is your deepest sense of self, an invaluable aspect of life that, all too easily, can be pushed aside when things get hectic.
We have seen that a positive attitude with enthusiasm for life, emotional vitality, and a sense of purpose can make people more physically resilient—decreasing the risk of issues like heart attack and stroke but also easing the ability to manage chronic health obstacles when they do occur, like living with a disability. This is why nourishing your sense of spirit is so important to your overall wellbeing.
In Tuesday’s newsletter, I shared my personal story about becoming spiritually bankrupt—too busy and overwhelmed by life to be present, grateful, and connected to the people I love. I got lost, and chances are the same thing has happened to you at one time or another. The good news is that there are simple ways to get back in touch with your authentic self, that childlike part of you, that spark.
- Talk to yourself. Take time every day to check in with yourself. How are you feeling? Are you spending time doing things you want to do, or things you feel obligated to do? Do you feel fulfilled? This seemingly basic step is vital for identifying what brings you joy, where your passions lie, and how you can get more of them in your life. I lost my sense of spirit because I stopped checking in with myself; I allowed the other demands of my life, like getting through medical school, to become more important than the things that made me feel my best, like meditation. That was an important lesson, and now I know it’s essential for me to take the time to look at what actions are truly serving me and prioritize them.
- Write it down. Journaling is a great way to talk to yourself on paper, it allows you to have an uninhibited discussion with yourself, oftentimes leading to an “aha” moment that was hiding under the surface all along. Expressive writing is also a way for us to release past traumas or future worries that are keeping us from living in the present moment, which can subdue our expression of spirit. And, studies have shown that journaling focused on gratitude can even reduce inflammation and improve mental wellbeing.
- Allow yourself room to change. Other people’s expectations often get the best of us. If we’re stuck in a rut with our foot on the gas, we just keep going on the same path. But life is not static, as humans we need to be able to learn from our experiences, grow, and change. It’s completely okay to realize your current path is not making you happy and change directions—give yourself permission! And instead of fighting the idea of changing as we grow older, we can accept it with grace, embracing the wisdom we gain from each passing year and continuing to build our character and spirit from the lessons of simple everyday moments.
- Clear the clutter. Just like we get caught up in the expectations of others, we can get caught up in material possessions that distract us from our internal needs. Get rid of gifts you’re holding on to out of guilt, donate them to someone in need. Clear away things in the house that cause anxiety, get rid of clothes you haven’t touched in more than two months. A more organized and simplified space will help you focus on more meaningful and non-material aspects of life, helping your spirit shine brighter.
- Meditate. Did you catch my interview with Emily Fletcher from Ziva Meditation? In it, I share what a powerful effect my daily meditation practice has had on my life. It so greatly helps me clear all of the chaos of a busy mind, step back from my commitments, and regain balance between my mind and body. This has been an essential step in rekindling my spirit and regaining the spiritual vitality that I had, at one point, lost. Whether you meditate or simply take a walk outside in nature, find a daily practice that allows you to take time to unfocus—to just be and let go of stress. Regularly giving your mind support and noticing the way it benefits your body will nourish your spirit to its fullest form of expression.
Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Hyman, MD