The pandemic is stressful (that may be the understatement of the year). We have more to worry about and less support to help us cope. It’s no surprise alcohol sales are up, Netflix usage is seeing record highs, and people are over indulging with comfort food. In addition, drug use has increased, with overdoses on the rise by up to 18%. We’re using the things that make us feel good to navigate a tough time. These external things that may make us feel good temporarily are often not good for us and can lead to detrimental addictive behaviors.
Healthy spirituality is something that can make us feel good AND be good for us. It can help reduce the likelihood of turning to alcohol, drugs, and other behaviors that may ultimately hurt us and those we love.
What is spirituality, exactly?
It’s not necessarily religion, though it can be. It can also be a feeling that you’re one with the universe, that you’re in touch with your inner self or your soul, or that you simply have a strong sense of personal well-being. Those who feel spiritually at peace—comfortable with themselves and their place in the universe—are more settled in themselves and have less need to look for happiness or fulfillment in drugs, alcohol, sex, gaming, or whatever else brings momentary pleasure.
“Spirituality is also a process and a lifepath,” says Linda Goodall-Martin, PhD. “It’s connectedness to something larger than and more encompassing than the self. Spirituality is what we do with our desire for wholeness. It is our response to the emptiness we feel, the discontent we experience, the lack of fulfillment that is so fundamental to being human. A healthy spirituality leads to greater connectedness with ourselves, with others, with the universe, and with that which transcends us – God, Spirit, Allah, Gaia, Nature, etc.”
What are some concrete practices we can do to help us cope?
“We must nurture our souls so that we might, in turn, nurture the world spiritually, socially, and politically,” says Dr. Goodall. “Doing that means cultivating our relationship with that which transcends us (however we imagine/name it) and adopting healthy behaviors that sustain that relationship.”
Here are three things you can do to get in touch with your spirituality:
1. Practice contemplation/meditation/self-reflection. Slow down and develop a deliberate and reflective relationship with yourself and with that which transcends you. Whether you call it meditation, prayer, reflection, or contemplation, schedule time daily to turn inward. Define your values and what you believe to be true, and what you believe IN.
2. Repair damaged relationships. Healthy spirituality is grounded in healthy relationships. Making genuine amends to people we may have harmed, naming our offense, saying we are sorry, and really meaning it – whether they accept those amends or not – ultimately places us in the right relationship with ourselves, with others, and with “God.”
3. Serve and love others. Reach out to them. Stepping outside of ourselves to be of service to others is a healthy reminder that we are not alone in the universe or in our struggle, we all have something to offer.
Want to dive deeper into this topic? Join Linda Goodall-Martin, PhD Kate Gillooly, DMin, and Natalie Weaver, PhD for a roundtable discussion where they’ll explore the role of spirituality in the context of addiction and how it draws us away from our Ultimate Source. Register for A Blueprint for Living: Human Spirituality Within the Context of Addiction. Learn how to cultivate a healthy spirituality so that we can serve others.