Maintaining your Spiritual Health in College
By: Sofia Driscoll
Whether you identify with a particular religious tradition or not, practicing spirituality as a college student has proven positive effects on other aspects of health. For example, one study showed that Canadian college students who were active with their school’s campus ministry programs made less trips to the doctor. Also, another study showed that people who are oriented towards religion show less physical reactivity to stress. With these things in mind, I’d like to share four of my favorite ways of maintaining my spiritual health as a busy college student.
- Actively explore your beliefs — If you’re not sure what you believe about spirituality and religion, you’re not alone! Many people spend their whole lives questioning and refining their spiritual and religious beliefs. That said, spending time actively exploring what you believe can help you feel more at peace with who you are, how you choose to spend your time, and the world you live in. Some great ways to start engaging with your beliefs are posing some of the questions you have about religion and spirituality to people you trust and learning about the various religious traditions and spiritual practices that are out there. If you are more sure of your spiritual and/or religious beliefs, make time in your schedule to nurture them — attend religious services if that applies to you, engage with others who share similar beliefs to you, and open yourself up to learn from encounters with people who disagree with you.
- Make your home environment conducive to calm — Oftentimes, it’s hard to calm yourself to pray, read, or do any other form of spiritual practice when the space you’re in is messy or stressful. If possible, decorate a small space within your home environment with calm colors and soothing textures, and use it to take a few moments of calm at the beginning or end of your day. Whether you can spare a space to specifically dedicate to this or not, maintaining a clean home environment is helpful for mental health as well as spiritual health.
- Keep a journal — Engaging with the big questions of spirituality can be hard when you’re trying to keep all of your thoughts straight in your head. Just like writing notes helps you remember the content from a class better, keeping a journal can help you process and make sense of your thoughts. Whether you decide to keep a gratitude journal (which many studies have found also improves mental health), a question journal, or a journal where you can just write your thoughts without worrying about anyone else seeing them, keeping a journal is a really great tool for processing the many questions, thoughts, and interactions you may have concerning spirituality and/or religion.
- Take 10 minutes a day for silence — With all the literal and figurative noise present in our lives, it can be hard to focus on spirituality. Spending 10 minutes per day in silence, whether it’s before you start your day, in between classes, or before you go to bed, is a great way to help with that. You don’t have to just sit there and think if that’s not your bag — this can be the time you use to write in a journal, pray, or meditate. There are a variety of spaces around campus that are conducive to silence, such as the brand new Marian Grotto behind Joan of Arc Chapel, the Interfaith Prayer Space in the AMU, the Adoration Chapel beside the Chapel of the Holy Family, and the St. Therese of Lisieux Chapel in The Commons. Those are only some of them — feel free to explore the spaces that you like best.
I hope that my tips can motivate you to jump-start, reignite, or continue maintaining your spiritual health, even amidst the business of college. Have a great day!
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