Working on your winter spirit
Winter will be making its debut soon when nature and many animals go into hibernation. This window of time provides a pause to rest, reduce energy outlay and consumption, and regenerate for all the activity that begins in spring. As attractive as a full on winter hibernation may sound to some at this point in the semester, it’s not realistic for most of us. However, we can choose to find spaces of time to replenish our spiritual wellness on a daily, bi-weekly, or weekly basis.
Restoring Spiritual Wellness
Spiritual wellness is a very personal definition. However, at its core, it can span from cultivating an inner peace, gratitude, meaning, purpose, and beliefs that help anchor us in daily life. These aspects of ourselves can be grounding, keeping us balanced in our job of being human. Realistically, spiritual wellness is a dimension of wellness that often gets put on hold due to life demands. At a certain point of doing and going, our spirit can get dull, often because we have neglected it. Think about it. What have you been putting off? What have you been craving spiritually, emotionally, physically, intellectually, etc.? What have you been sacrificing? Consider your personal answers to these questions when you can. Meanwhile, the list below are some ideas to tickle your spirit:
- Going to bed early
- Making nourishing food
- Getting lost in an uplifting novel
- Exploring your spiritual curiosities
- Spending time in nature
- Contemplating what gives you meaning and purpose
- Listening to music that soothes and moves the soul
- Watching some of your favorite films curled up on the sofa
- Getting away to a relaxing environment
- Meditation, prayer, and mindfulness practices
- Engaging in a hobby
- Getting a massage
- Going to a spiritual retreat or workshop
- Disconnecting from social media and work emails
Give one or two of these ideas a try and see what happens. You might like how you feel and begin making a habit out of it. Anything you do that nourishes your spirit can make a difference.
A Giving Spirit
What does the list above have in common? It focuses solely on yourself. Being selfish for the sake of nourishing our spiritual wellbeing is vital, otherwise we have nothing left to give to others. When we are ready to give to others, it’s an opportunity to extend our spiritual restoration to family, friends, colleagues, and strangers. Our giving can often help restore the spirit of others. In turn, it can continue to restore ours as well. Giving provides health benefits as well. It also has been attributed to the brain responding with a “helper’s high” according to an article in the Greater Good Magazine. Triple bonus! Consider thinking how you can give to others. What are some simple acts you can do?
- Volunteer on campus or a community organization
- Make a meal for your neighbor
- Help a friend with something they can’t easily do on their own
- Listen to someone who needs to talk
- Help a stranger in need without judgement
- Pay for someone’s groceries
- Make an acts of kindness list and do them
- Take time to mentor someone
The opportunities to give of ourselves are endless. Opportunities present themselves everyday where we can go out of our way, and sometimes even out of our comfort zone, to give of our help. Taking time to be that giving spirit brings light into our day and those we interact with. Each of us has the capacity to change the course of someone’s day in a positive way.
Keeping the Spirit in Tune
Winter is a great starting point to nourish your spirit, as it serves to be a natural backdrop for it. Many faith based holidays also happen during December reminding us to tend to our spirit. The challenge many of us face is keeping our personal and giving spirit in tune all year long. How do we keep it going throughout the year? Bottom line, it’s a commitment we make to ourselves. The amazing thing about this specific commitment, is that it doesn’t take from us, it gives to us. In fact, it may be the best present we can give to ourselves and ultimately to others, not just this winter season, but all year long.
Happy Winter Redbirds!
* Take advantage of the spirit fulfilling venues right here on campus through our activities calendar.
* Where do you currently stand in your spiritual wellness? Take the spiritual assessment and find out.
* Visit and join our Facebook page.
Challenge yourself to make YOU a priority! SEVEN is a free program from Health Promotion and Wellness for students, faculty, and staff that focuses on the importance of the seven dimensions of wellness: emotional, environmental, intellectual, physical, social, spiritual, and vocational. SEVEN runs from September to the end of April, and you can join at any time. Participants log wellness activities to earn points toward monthly prize drawings and compete toward end of the year overall point totals. Participants also receive the SEVEN e-newsletter and information on campus wellness events.
For additional details and to sign up, visit Wellness.IllinoisState.edu/Seven.