What is “Spiritual Health”

It can be difficult to talk about “Spiritual Health” without sounding preachy or hokey. At the same time, I don’t feel that it is totally appropriate for Health news, or for a Health blog, to focus solely on the physical side of human health.

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There seems to be something missing from a picture of a person’s Health that is composed merely of elements such as diet, exercise, vitamin supplements, as well as obvious things like avoiding tobacco and alcohol. Even though we may not already be in the habit of following these rules, I think every single person already knows that, in order to pursue better physical health, they can eat more vegetables, get more exercise, smoke and drink less, etc. As such, there seems very little need to write about these things at all.

Similarly, at first glance, what is there to say about spiritual health that everyone doesn’t already know? Spend time with friends and family. Talk to people. Get stuff off your chest. Have fun sometimes. Find yourself some “me”time. Find a nice girl or guy to be with. And so on, and so on. Again, these often repeated things (which everyone knows already) approach the platitudinous, making them unnecessary to write or read about at all. One interesting angle to take on these obvious health tips would be to ask why, since they are so well known and often repeated, are they ignored or not followed equally as often.

Another element in discussing Spiritual Health, is the relationship between the physical and the spiritual sides of human health. This relationship can be stomached up to a point, but there is a line that can be crossed that makes one appear hokey or outrageous. Most people, for example, would probably accept that stress or anxiety can contribute to problems with one’s physical health.

According to a report in the November 22 edition of Archives of Internal Medicine, there is a relationship between depression and diabetes. It is interesting that this relationship is said to work in both directions: those with depression are more likely develop diabetes, and those with diabetes are also more likely to develop depression. There is a point, however, where this relationship between physical and spiritual health will no longer be tolerated. If I were to suggest that AIDS was caused by poor moral fiber, you would accuse me of being a wacko or of being dogmatic. In this case, our physical health problem (AIDS) is not permitted to have a spiritual correlate; it is a purely physical condition that is contracted through physical contact.

In future posts, I would like to investigate whether there is a way to discuss spiritual health and how it interacts with physical health, in a way that is not platitudinous, not hokey or “hippy” like, and also not outrageous and dogmatic. This might prove to be a difficult thing to do, but I feel that to talk about the issue of human health properly, it is not enough simply to quote and paraphrase the latest study, or the newest diet and exercise tips.

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