Good health includes caring for the soul.
Good health goes beyond keeping the body disease-free, maintaining a healthy weight and eating right. It includes caring for the soul. In fact, caring for the soul can actually help your body heal. Whether it’s through meditation, activities like yoga or tai chi, or having a strong spiritual life, research shows what’s good for the soul is good for the body.
Ancient disciplines such as meditation and yoga, among others, have been practiced for centuries. They have been shown to provide physical, mental and spiritual benefits, from improved flexibility and muscle tone to reduced blood pressure, pain and stress, to a calm mind.
Karen Allen, R.N., teaches yoga to cancer patients and survivors. She is an advocate of these types of practices for people with chronic illnesses and medical conditions.
“Yoga allows you to tap into an inner healer,” Allen said. “People with chronic diseases often experience incredible anxiety. Understanding the roots of this anxiety can help you deal with it. Yoga enables people to calm themselves, harness their own energy and work with their body as their own healer.”
Tai chi is believed to improve the flow of energy through the body, leading to improved wellness and many potential physical benefits, including reduced pain and stiffness, better balance, lower risk for falls, better sleep and a better overall sense of well-being.
“It’s a study of how your lifestyle and the world around you affect you both mentally and physically,” Allen said. “These practices allow you to work with your pain and let go of the tension in your muscles by examining the cause of that tension.”
The same goes for spirituality. And it doesn’t mean you have to be a religious person. Spirituality is a connectedness to yourself, other people and the world around you and the belief that there is something greater than the self that makes life what it is.
Recent medical studies indicate that spiritual people exhibit fewer self-destructive behaviors (suicide, smoking and abuse of drugs and alcohol), less stress and a greater satisfaction with life. When families face tough situations, such as health issues, their spirituality can help them restore meaning and regain a sense of control.