• 03/02/2024

7 Spiritual Wellness Activities for a Powerful Start to Your New Year 

A woman sits criss-cross with her eyes closed.

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The new year abounds with resolutions. Many of them have to do with improving your physical well-being by dropping extra pounds and getting in better shape, while others impact the mental and emotional spheres, like organizing your home and investing in therapy. What about spiritual wellness activities that nurture your soul? 

It’s easy to forget that humans are more than the sum of their parts in the hubbub of daily life. Yet something in the psyche cries out for more, to understand the deeper meaning of existence. This year, consider a resolution beyond hitting the gym. Here are seven spiritual wellness activities that can help you feel better about your place in the world. 

What Is Spiritual Wellness, Anyway? 

You can define spiritual wellness in various ways. It might surprise you that you don’t have to follow a religion to pursue it, although that is one path many choose. However, atheists share a common bond with those who believe in a deity — they both seek a sense of purpose in life. Spiritual wellness involves defining values that guide you in daily decisions to live in an ethical, moral manner, such as helping others or refraining from causing harm. 

At its core, spiritual wellness is a sense of inner peace with the Universe as you understand it and your place within it. It unites a radical acceptance of present reality with future hopes and forming an ethical code that guides the unfolding pattern of your life. It’s a way of coming to terms with the existential trauma that unites all human beings — the knowledge of how temporary our conscious existence is amid a kaleidoscopic landscape of continual life and change. 

7 Spiritual Wellness Activities to Practice in January — and All Year 

You might think that spiritual wellness activities are all heavy and serious. While they can be at times, you don’t have to become a monk or engage in esoteric practices. Incorporating these seven suggestions into your daily routine could transform your life far more than a lengthy retreat. 

At its core, spiritual wellness requires the deep mindfulness that lets you see patterns, face your thoughts and emotions as part of yourself but at the same time not the complete picture of you and integrate various, sometimes traumatic, life experiences into a meaningful whole. That means engaging in activities that facilitate mental clarity, such as the following. 

1. Begin a Daily Meditation Practice 

Meditating can seem intimidating at first, especially if you don’t know what to do. Sitting quietly can even lead to emotional distress if you follow your mind down a path of rumination or future fears. That’s where mindfulness comes into play to help you observe your thoughts as if you were sitting on the banks of a river watching them float by instead of getting sucked under by the tide. 

How can you achieve this? Here are three simple beginner meditation methods to facilitate it:

  • Count your breath: Can you count to ten without your mind wandering? It seems easy — unti you try while inhaling for a slow four count and exhaling for five. See if you can reach your goal, starting over if you catch your mind wandering or lose count. 
  • Focus on a mantra: A simple one comes from Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh: “Breathing in, I am aware that I am breathing in. Breathing out, I am aware that I am breathing out.” Repeat this phrase in your mind as you inhale and exhale. 
  • Use your senses: Start with your basic five to ground yourself, naming five things you can see, four you can touch, three you can hear, two you can smell and finally one you can taste. From there, go to your lesser known senses. Can you touch your nose with your eyes closed? That’s proprioception or your sense of where your body is in space at work. What sensations arise from within your body? How is your time sense? Do you feel rushed or relaxed? 

There are scores of meditation techniques available online. Experiment with several varieties, finding what works best for you. 

2. Find Your Faith Community 

You don’t need a faith community to engage in spiritual wellness activities. However, many people find validation and hope in the company of others who share their pursuit, and a place of worship provides the perfect meeting grounds. 

You might be surprised to learn that even atheists can find “faith” communities that suit their worldview instead of challenging it. For example, secular Buddhism declares no faith in an almighty god, but you can find others who walk the eightfold path regardless of whether they accept the cycle of death and rebirth or prefer not to meditate on the topic. They welcome all who respectfully seek to learn and grow. 

3. Spend Time in Nature 

Humans get so caught up in modern technology that they forget they are a part of nature. Yet being with her heals. Breathing in fresh air and healthy plant chemicals boosts your immune response, spending time in natural sunlight eases depression and the simple change of venue encourages you to add to your daily step count. 

Spending time in nature is a spiritual wellness activity because it connects you with all other living things. It invites you to marvel at the wonders of creation and your place in it. 

4. Move Your Body With Meaning 

Guess what? Although yoga is traditionally known as a mind-body movement form, you don’t have to flow through asanas to make working out a spiritual wellness activity. Anything that you love to do that gets you grooving qualifies, including activities like running, biking and dancing. 

The trick is mindfully tuning into the experience and the changes in your body and spirit as you move. At first, you might feel as if your treadmill is coated with concrete as you struggle to move your feet. Yet your energy levels begin lifting, making movement easier with time. Even days that are a challenge leave you feeling better. Visualize sending that positive energy to other beings who might need it. 

5. Nurture Burgeoning Life 

Many people believe the secret of life lies in nurturing its renewal. You can do so in multiple ways. For example, consider the following activities:

  • Spending time teaching or reading to children 
  • Working in the garden 
  • Cooking a delicious meal for your family
  • Play with your pets or raise domestic animals 

6. Practice a Creative Art 

Creativity is giving birth to something new. How many unique ways can you find to express yourself and your vision of the world? Sometimes, it’s easier to represent your beliefs through art than words, as humans have done throughout the centuries. You might engage in:

  • Painting
  • Photography
  • Scrapbooking 
  • Quilting
  • Crocheting and needlecraft 
  • Woodworking 
  • Welding and metallurgy

7. Make the World a Bit Brighter 

Finally, volunteering is a spiritual wellness activity that pays practical dividends here on earth — as do many of the above activities. It’s your way of expressing gratitude for your good fortune by helping those with less. 

Volunteering also helps you keep perspective, far more than mere charitable donations ever can. When you meet people who rely on the kindness of strangers, you realize that all humans share similar vulnerabilities. It drives the meaning of the Golden Rule home — how would you want others to treat you if you found yourself in similar circumstances? 

It’s a valuable reality check, especially if you feel that restless sense of boredom that can accompany “having it all” and seek to fill the void through less healthy means. There are always plenty of fellow humans in need of uplifting — giving you a sense of meaning in life while filling your hours with happy work that floods you with positive neurochemicals. Yes — helping others also helps you. 

Start Your New Year Strong With These Spiritual Wellness Activities 

Many people resolve to get in shape or eat better. It’s fine to nurture your physical self, but what about your soul? These seven spiritual wellness activities will help you feel better connected with the world, your place in it and the greater meaning of existence as you understand it — make this your new year’s goal. 

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