Tending to Your Spiritual Well-Being – KSRO

It happens to the best of us. A coworker promises that the report will be ready for the big meeting and then doesnt come through. Or maybe, you re the one who promised to be prepared and somehow failed to deliver. Either way, you feel lousy. Sometimes, it can feel like a gut punch. Or, you feel angry, with your co-worker or with yourself, and your heart starts to race. You notice your jaws tighten or shoulders stiffen from feelings of frustration, abandonment, shame or embarrassment. We may not like to think of ourselves as suffering at work, but in my experience these kinds of moments are relatively common in the workplace. And of course, the upheaval in our lives brought on by the coronavirus pandemic has added another layer of uncertainty, anxiety and fear to both our personal and work lives.

I sometimes refer to these moments of suffering as emotional inflammation or spiritual distress. And just like a physical injury, these flair ups are best tended to when they happen (or soon after) rather than letting them fester. And fester they will, sometimes negatively affecting sleep, or spilling over into relationships with other coworkers, or even negatively impacting relationships with friends or family. This impact on relationships is especially important to address. As a chaplain, I often speak of spirituality in terms of the quality of three types of interconnected relationships. First, the relationship with our self, and the nature of our self-talk and how well we practice self-care. Second, relationships with others, meaning the quality of our relationships with co-workers, family and friends. And finally, your relationship with the mystery of life, with being a part of this vast universe, with the journey of life. Or, as some would say, your relationship with God or a higher power. How can we tend to our relationships with ourselves, others and lifes journey in a way that helps heal these sudden emotional inflammations?

To address spiritual and emotional distress, you might consider these questions: How do you tend to you spiritual wellbeing? Or, what do you do for emotional self-care?

When I asked Kaiser Permanente staff members these questions, I heard many enlivening responses. One person said, I love to cook, when Im in the kitchen I feel centered and alive! Another responded, I exercisejust taking a short walk helps clear my head. Other people mentioned meditation, prayer, getting out in nature, talking with a friend, yoga, laughing, reading, enjoying their pets, listening to music, etc. The need for social distancing has us all thinking of even more creative ways to continue to tend to our wellbeing. The goal is to realize that emotional inflammation has occurred and then to respond in a way that will calm the nervous system, refresh your soul and help to gain a new perspective on your day. Sure, taking a mental health day is sometimes needed, but why not take several mental health moments throughout the day?

One of the best mental and spiritual health moments Ive discovered is the self-compassion break. Kristen Neff, Ph.D., associate professor of human development and culture in Austin, Texas, and one of the worlds leading experts on self-compassion, developed the self-compassion break as an antidote to emotional inflammation. Rather than judging ourselves or beating ourselves up, her research demonstrates that extending kindness to yourself is a far more effective remedy. The self-compassion break has three simple but profound parts:

Awareness. The first part is to notice the suffering in your bodya racing heart, a tense muscle or pain in our stomach or chest. Notice this discomfort without judging it as good or bad, right or wrong. You might say to yourself, this is a moment of suffering. Or, this is what stress feels like for me. Or simply, this hurts.

Common humanity. Second, remind yourself that this feeling is part of being human, that all people suffer, that this moment of distress is a common human feeling. You might remind yourself that youre not alone. Or that everyone suffers like this. Or perhaps, remind yourself that we all struggle in life.

Self-compassion. Place a hand on your heart or maybe on the part of your body that hurts. Offer yourself some compassion rather than beating up on yourself. Say to yourself words of comfort such as: I give myself the compassion I need; I forgive myself, or May I accept myself as I am.

This practice takes no more than five minutes, but offers a powerful method of alleviating some of the emotional inflammation in the moment that it arises. The key is to notice even the small ways we suffer during this day and to offer ourselves what we would extend to a good frienda kind word, a short break and some reassurance that we are not alone.

By Raymond Dougherty

Raymond Dougherty is the director of spiritual care services for Kaiser Permanentes Marin/Sonoma service area and has been a healthcare chaplain for over 20 years. He can be reached at (707) 790-9175 or Raymond.Dougherty@kp.org.

Read more here:

Tending to Your Spiritual Well-Being - KSRO

Related Post

Comments are closed.