To many, spirituality is an essential component of life. When faced with adversity or obstacles, a person may find that their faith provides them with a sense of comfort and stability. Conversely, one’s spirituality itself may be the obstacle being faced, and one might end up questioning their relationship with God.
Many of our clients request their counsellor integrates faith into their sessions. Our counsellors believe that a wholistic view of a person includes their spirituality, and that spirituality is an important aspect to take into account in counselling. They often emphasize a strength-based approach to counselling, and aid clients seeking help in finding their faith, and fostering its growth.
We all have different ways of dealing with stress in our daily lives. The following points are a few faith related mechanisms that are useful in coping with stress.
1. Importance of community
- A faith-based community can be a point of resilience and support. Being in a community of like-minded people, bonded by their faith, allows people to form real connections which can help in reducing feelings of stress, isolation, or anxiety.
2. Prayer, meditation and mindfulness
- Taking a moment to focus deeply on ourselves and reflect on our relationship with God can be beneficial.
- Having a sense of mindfulness by consciously focusing on ourselves in the present moment while accepting any thoughts, feelings or experiences that come to mind has been shown to have positive effects on psychological health.
- Human emotions like gratitude and awe are innately spiritual. Our counsellors believe helping clients access the experiences that come along with gratitude and awe support mental health and foster spirituality.
- Being grateful and noticing everything around us in the present moment, and appreciating it are ways of integrating these emotions into our lives.
- Research shows that awe has the strongest correlation to lower levels of IL-6 (an inflammatory protein) compared to any other emotions. Hence, it is helpful in reducing inflammation, which reduces stress in the body.
4. Breathing exercises
- The act of breathing may seem like such an unconscious, basic part of our daily lives, that we often forget to take the time to pause, make conscious efforts to regulate our breaths, and reflect.
- Our counsellors emphasize the importance in grounding yourself, asking God for help, and “reflecting on the Spirit of God, and inviting the Holy Spirit in.”
5. Awareness and acceptance
- Stress is difficult, and we often make great efforts to eliminate it from our lives to achieve a sense of relief.
- Naming your current thoughts and feelings is more effective than pushing them down and ignoring them.
- Recognizing that stress is something that majority of people experience at some point, and that we do not have to be completely stress-free in order to move on, is a way to cope with current stressors.
Blog post by Leah Wojcik, Volunteer
Keng, S. L., Smoski, M. J., & Robins, C. J. (2011). Effects of mindfulness on psychological health: a review of empirical studies. Clinical psychology review, 31(6), 1041–1056. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpr.2011.04.006.
Stellar J. E., John-Henderson N., Anderson C. L., Gordon A. M., McNeil G. D., Keltner D. (2015). Positive affect and markers of inflammation: discrete positive emotions predict lower levels of inflammatory cytokines. Emotion. 15(2), 129-33. doi: 10.1037/emo0000033.