Can Spirituality Play a Helpful Role in Recovery?

by | Oct 9, 2022 | Recovery

Can Spirituality Play a Helpful Role in Recovery?

The last week in October is spiritual care week. This is a special time set aside to recognize spiritual caregivers. The period is also an excellent time for people in recovery to consider their spirituality. Not everyone benefits from involving spirituality in their recovery. However, others find that spirituality centers them in their recovery. Ultimately, people should consider whether it can positively impact them.

What Is Spirituality, and Is It Different From Religion?

Spirituality can be defined as deep, often religious, feelings and beliefs, including a person’s sense of peace, purpose, connection to others, and beliefs about the meaning of life. Religion is defined as a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices or the service and worship of God or the supernatural. Although many use spirituality and religion interchangeably, they are related but distinct concepts. It is possible to be spiritual without being religious.

Spirituality As Part of Treatment

America is caught in an addiction crisis. Recent focus has been on the opioid epidemic, but one part of the addiction crisis. Approximately 20.1 million people in America aged 12 and older have a substance use disorder (SUD). Medications and psychological care are critical components of addiction treatment. Patients may also require spiritual wellness care. This is relevant because more Americans identify as spiritual but not religious.

The potential benefits of spirituality and religion on recovery from mental and physical health conditions, trauma, and stress have been presumed for decades. Only recently have we begun to investigate those benefits empirically. One study in Psychology of Religion and Spirituality showed that spirituality but not religiousness did appear to play a role in helping people in recovery. Spirituality was particularly found to be helpful for people who had prior treatment or 12-step histories.

Benefits of Spirituality In Recovery

Although choosing recovery is an exciting time, it is also a time of transformation and growth. It is a time full of positive changes, but even positive changes can leave you tired, and growth can involve some pain. Feeling disconnected, nihilistic, powerless, stressed, unhealthy, and unable to forgive yourself or others can all be triggers for relapse.

During these times of change and growth, you may discover that many of the benefits of connecting with your spirituality can help you manage those triggers more effectively. These benefits may include:

  • Experiencing a renewed sense of belonging in the world
  • Increased understanding of empowerment as you decide what your individual spiritual will look like
  • More compassion and forgiveness for yourself and others
  • Improved physical health by incorporating mindful exercise like walking outdoors or yoga into your spiritual practice
  • An increase in gratitude for even the small pleasures in life, such as the taste of food or the caress of the wind on your face
  • Finding a deeper meaning to life in general
  • More strength to overcome those life challenges that might be triggering
  • Improved social connections
  • Better stress management
  • Improved mood

These benefits occur because you’re treated as a whole, multi-faceted person. You’re seen as more than just your addiction.

Simple Ways to Connect or Reconnect With Your Spirituality

What if you have never felt particularly spiritual or lost connection with your spirituality? You do not have to run away to a retreat, take a vow of silence, or meditate for hours a day. Luckily, you can perform simple mental and physical acts that easily fit into daily life to help you explore and connect with your spiritual side.

Daily Meditation

You do not have to devote a significant amount of time to meditation. All it takes is as few as five minutes a day. Just taking a few minutes daily to reconnect with yourself and relax can help you develop a stronger relationship with your spirituality. Right after you get up in the morning or before bedtime are optimal times for meditation.

Try Yoga

You might want to roll your eyes at this suggestion because so many people tout yoga as a panacea. If that was your initial reaction, try to set it aside and keep an open mind. Yoga is the perfect exercise to connect the mind, body, and spirit. It has decreased depression and anxiety, lowered blood pressure, and reduced stress.

Travel

Exploring a new place or revisiting a familiar, comforting location can help you to escape day-to-day stresses. You’ll let your mind and body rest from life’s usual stressors. Plus, you can engage in another wellness area by learning something new about the place you’re traveling.

Engage in Some Spiritual Deep Diving

Take the time to get to know yourself. What do you want? Also, what do you believe? Ultimately, what do you value the most? This will get you in touch with your true self, values, and beliefs, which is key to connecting with your spirituality.

Journal

Journaling does not have to be strictly narrative. You can do a bullet point journal. You can add drawings or clipped photos. Do whatever helps you to express and work through your thoughts and feelings. A journal is also a great way to record your progress on your spiritual path.

Spirituality can increase your resilience in facing challenges like substance use disorders (SUD). When you care for the spirit as well as the mind and body, it can add richness and depth to an already exciting journey. At Sober Life, you will experience a strength-based, resiliency-focused program to help you begin or continue your recovery. We will guide you as you develop new coping skills to manage your SUD. Our highly-trained and compassionate staff will support your spiritual growth as you progress through our programs. Whether you attend treatment at our vibrant San Diego location or choose one of our convenient virtual options, you will receive evidence-based treatment in an accepting environment. After you complete treatment, stay connected with us through our alumni program. If you are ready to learn more about how Sober Life can help you, call us at (619) 542-9542.

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