The Quadrants of Wellbeing describe how all the aspects of our lives overlap and affect each other. Brooke Wesley adds to this concept by describing the overlapping as a massive puzzle.
Brooke is a social worker who specializes in treating patients with eating disorders. Her practice, Bellatore Recovery, works with teens, adults, and families in Kansas City.
Brooke explains that all the pieces that make up who we are as humans form a puzzle, the “bio-psycho-social-spiritual-sexual puzzle.” The puzzle is so big that it includes all the aspects of our physical body, and then adds our mental life, our social life, and our spiritual life to it. Because all these pieces of our life form a puzzle, they all influence each other. If one part doesn’t get everything it needs, the rest of the pieces will be thrown off too.
For example, if you’re not getting enough sleep, then your eating is probably off too. You are so tired, you don’t get up with the alarm, so instead of eating a healthy breakfast, you swing through a drive-thru. With your eating thrown off, your blood sugar would be off. If your blood sugar is off, your mood will be off. If your mood is off, then socially you’re probably off and more isolated. And your spiritual life will also be thrown off balance.
All of these issues stem from one little piece of the puzzle, just a couple nights that you didn’t get enough sleep. But now, those few nights have a huge effect on all parts of my life.
Spirituality is often ignored as an essential piece of the puzzle that forms our health and wellbeing. When Brooke talks to patients about their spiritual life, they often explain their feelings toward religion and whether or not they choose to practice a religion.
Brooke makes it clear that spirituality and religion are different things, and whether we choose to practice a religion or not, we need to connect to our spiritual life in order to be healthy and have a complete and balanced puzzle.
Spirituality connects us to our inner self, it connects us to others, and it connects us to the universe. When we practice spirituality we are able to connect to ourselves and who we truly are on the inside, and we are able to connect to our higher power in whatever form we believe that takes. As we connect to ourselves and our higher power, we are able to formulate our purpose. Brooke says, “I believe that purpose in line with spirituality, gratitude, and grace is incredibly important.”
Building a Spiritual Practice
Paying attention to our spiritual life sounds great and like it will have some benefits for the rest of the complicated puzzle that is our whole life. But how do we do that? There are a few simple things that we can do to get started.
Connect With Yourself
- Creative Expression
- Slow Down
To connect with ourselves and who we really are, we need to spend some quality time alone getting to know us. Solitude is the first way to connect because we really need to take time to be alone, but solitude goes beyond just finding ourselves alone for an hour today. Solitude has intention. We need to plan that time alone.
Once we are alone, we can connect with ourselves by spending time journaling about whatever is on our mind, about our thoughts and feelings, about our wishes and desires for the future, about our plans and our purpose. Being creative is also a way to connect. If you sing, dance, paint, write, color, knit, cook, make candles, you may know the feeling of connection with yourself as you express yourself creatively. Remember that you don’t have to be producing museum-quality works to be creative. Let go of the judgement and see where your creativity takes you.
Slow down during this time with yourself. There’s nothing on your to-do list that is more important than you.
Connect with Others
- Have Regular Dinners
- Go for Regular Walks
- Play or Create Together
Our spiritual life includes our connections with others. These are just a few of the simple things that allow us to connect with those people who are important to us. Even though they are simple, these things can feel like a stretch when we are spending so much time working or connected to our devices. Plan time to connect with the people that you love.
Connect With Your Higher Power
Keeping a simple practice of meditation, prayer, silence, and/or gratitude can help us connect to our higher power. Explore ways to practice connecting to a higher power that work for you. As Brooke said, many of us equate spirituality and religion. If a religious practice is helpful and healing for you, that is wonderful. If it is not, find another way to connect to your spiritual life.
Each of these suggestions is a small change that you can make that will help you connect to your spiritual life and bring it into balance with all the other pieces of the puzzle. It can make a big shift in your health and wellbeing.