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NEWS | April 16, 2021

Can Spirituality Help Reduce COVID Induced Stress? Yes!

By Lt. Cmdr. Calvin Gardner Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune

Concerning the incorporation of “spirituality” into our daily lives, Henri Nouwen reminds us of Jesus’ sacred words: Being in the world without being of the world. These words summarize well the way Jesus speaks of the spiritual life. It is a life in which we are totally transformed by the spirit of love. Yet it is a life in which everything seems to remain the same. To live a spiritual life does not mean that we must leave our families, give up our jobs, or change our ways of working; it does not mean that we have to withdraw from social or political activities, or lose interest in literature and art; it does not require severe forms of asceticism or long hours of prayer. Changes such as these may in fact grow out of our spiritual life, and for some people radical decisions may be necessary. But the spiritual life can be lived in as many ways as there are people. What is new is that we have moved from the many things to the kingdom of God. What is new is that we are set free from the compulsions of our world and have set our hearts on the only necessary thing. What is new is that we no longer experience the many things, people, and events as endless causes for worry, but begin to experience them as the rich variety of ways in which God makes his presence known to us.”

Recent research on “spirituality” is recognizing we are all inextricably connected to each other by a power greater than all of us. Practicing spirituality brings a sense of perspective, meaning, and purpose to our lives. Here are some recommendations on spiritual practices that can help mitigate spiritual stress during COVID.

• Prayer/meditation. Making regular time for prayer and meditation can provide peace, focus, and reconnect one to a sense of purpose and meaning.

• Practice gratitude. Daily identify things that are meaningful to you or bring you a sense of purpose and joy.  Consider keeping a journal of these items as a reminder, and for reflection.

• Seek out a trusted advisor or chaplain who can listen and provide perspective. They may point out something you haven’t discovered.

• Be more intentional about connecting with family and friends. Consider setting aside time for meaningful time to connect, rather than just intermittent communication (text, social media post).

• Take breaks from viewing social media and the news. Schedule time for activities that renew mind, body, and spirit.

• If your regular spiritual practice or religious tradition is affected, consider forming new ones. Start a new devotion, regular reading, or viewing online resources that are available due to COVID-19 mitigation.

The key takeaway here is spirituality is practiced, and practicing spirituality can enhance “intangibles” that connect you to sources of perspective, meaning, and purpose.