Restore Spiritual Well-Being Meeting Your Spiritaul Needs
You may have felt as though your faith was “tested” or questioned your faith and belief system when you received your breast cancer diagnosis. You may have wondered, “Why me?”
There is no clear answer to that question, but just the mere thought of it can thrust you into a quest for meaning and self discovery. If this happens, how do you fulfill your spiritual needs?
Assessing your spiritual needs is not typically part of your breast cancer treatment or recovery. Your spiritual needs are basic and essential human needs, just like the need for love and companionship, the need to find purpose and meaning in your life or the need to feel a sense of community and support. Belonging to a specific faith tradition or religion that fits your ideals and value system is one way of meeting these needs.
Religion can be defined as a specific set of beliefs and practices, typically around an organized belief system or group. Spirituality can be more of an individual approach based on one's sense of peace, purpose, beliefs about the meaning of life and connection to others. Spirituality can be found and expressed through an organized religion or in many other ways.
Spiritualityis a concept of the search for hope, meaning and transcendence. In difficult times, it can help alleviate fear, vulnerability and loneliness. Giving attention to your spiritual needs, i.e. your spiritual well-being, during your recovery can be an important aspect your health and well-being, and it is complementary to your physical and emotional well-being.
For people who deal with a catastrophic illness, spirituality and its practices have been shown to help decrease psychological distress, anxiety and depression, helping to increase emotional coping ability. The integration of your body, mind, and spirit is an effective approach to connect with your spirituality and religious beliefs in order to help you cope with your recovery. Whether you achieve this through prayer or meditation, it can contribute to your healing process.
There is little scientific evidence to prove that spirituality and religion are related to health. However, studies have shown that spiritual or religious beliefs and practices can create a positive mental attitude that can enable a survivor to feel better and improve her well-being and quality of life.
Spiritual and religious practices often help improve health and quality of life in the following ways. It can:
- Decrease anxiety, depression, anger and discomfort
- Decrease the sense of isolation (feeling alone)
- Lower blood pressure and the risk of heart disease
- Help you adjust to the effects of breast cancer and treatment
- Increase your ability to enjoy life during and after treatment
- Give you a feeling of personal growth as a result of being a breast cancer survivor
- Increase positive feelings, including:
- Hope and optimism
- Freedom from regret
- Satisfaction with life
Whatever your practice or belief, your spiritual well-being plays a role in your recovery and overall health and wellness. It may be wise for you to consider, on a deeper, personal level, how this fits into your daily routine and life to help you recover, restore and reenergize after treatment.
The following resources provide additional information to help you learn more about meeting your spiritual needs:
Meeting Spiritual Needs: What Is an Oncologist to Do?
Addressing Patients’ Emotional and Spiritual Needs
Spirituality in Cancer Care
Spirituality 1: should spiritual and religious beliefs be part of patient care?
Meeting Psychosocial Needs of Women with Breast Cancer
For more information on meeting your spiritual needs, go to Resources. You can share your knowledge and experience with other survivors at Survivor Tips or start a discussion in our Partner Forum.