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Influence of Spirituality on Health and Well-being (2)

Page history last edited by Lexy Harkins 7 years, 3 months ago


How does spirituality impact well-being as we age?




Spirituality can be a resource because it gives us meaning and control in our lives.  Research shows that a sense of purpose helps us to organize our lives and stay involved in activities that are important to us, despite illness, disability, or crisis6.  Spirituality also gives us a sense of self-worth4.  


Spirituality helps us to cope and can have positive effects on well-being, especially among older people3.  It helps us to handle life's problems and serves as a guide for relating to others and building relationships5.  


The risk of disability or chronic health conditions increases with age3,7.  This is when many individuals confront their own mortality, or death, and must cope with new challenges.  This can have a negative impact on well-being unless there are resources to buffer these effects3.  Everyday spiritual experiences increase well-being and buffer against daily stress7.  This can increase physical and mental health, which leads to lower mortality3.  


Everyday spiritual experiences increase overall health and well-being. Here are some tips for creating everyday spiritual experiences7:


  • Practice being mindful.  Take a few minutes to become more conscious of your breath.  Slowly bring attention to the physical body, thoughts, and feelings.  Take note of what stands out. 

  • Choose an object that represents something special or sacred to you.  This can be something from nature, a family heirloom, a mantra (saying), or memory.  The purpose is to focus on something that has positive meaning for you.  Be open to the qualities you experience during these moments.   

  • Keep a journal.  You may want to record thoughts, feelings or any words that come up to reflect on your personal experience.







It is important to remember that creating sacred moments is not alway easy.  If doing any of these activities makes you feel stress, try changing your sacred object.  These are meant to be a stepping stone to health and well-being, not something to become attached to7.





3.     Kirby, S.E., Coleman, P.G., & Daley, D. (2004).  Spirituality and well-being in frail and nonfrail older adults.  Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, 59B(3), P123-P-129.

4.     Krause, N. (2003). Religious Meaning and Subjective Well-Being in Late Life. Journal of Gerontology: Social Science, 58B, S160-S170.

5.     Nelson-Becker, H. (2005). Religion and Coping in Older Adults: A Social Work Perspective. Journal of Gerontological Social Work. 45, 51-67.

6.     Swarbrick, P., & Burkhardt, A. (2000).  Spiritual health: implications for the occupational therapy process.  Mental Health Special Interest Section Quarterly, 23(2), 1-3.

7.     Whitehead, B.R., & Bergeman, C.S. (2011).  Coping with daily stress: differential role of spiritual experience on daily positive and negative affect.





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