May is Mental Health Month – a time to raise awareness about the importance of good mental health. Last year’s theme, 4Mind4Body, has been expanded to the next level this year and we are looking at the connection between spirituality and mental health, particularly in eating disorders. As humans, each of us is composed of mind, body, and spirit. When you suffer from an eating disorder, it is important to address each of these components in the recovery journey.
Spirituality is in the eye of the beholder. While it can mean something different to each person, it is essentially defined as being connected to something larger than oneself, feelings of peace, well-being or a sense of wonder about the universe. Regardless of your beliefs, caring for your soul is an important part of taking care of yourself that improves your physical and mental well-being. Research has shown us that spiritual practices such as meditation are linked to increased levels of serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins which are the feel-good chemicals in our body. It is also shown to decrease the levels of cortisol and noradrenaline, which are associated with stress. Individuals with beliefs related to meaning, peace, and faith have shown to have reduced suicide risks and healthier behaviors.
How do I heal my spirit?
One of the most important parts of recovery is addressing disordered eating behaviors and establishing a healthy relationship with food, as there is a deep connection between physical and emotional healing. Another important part of recovery is healing the spirit. There has been much research showing a correlation between improving spiritual well-being and positive changes in eating behaviors, body concerns, and positive mental and social functioning.
Eating disorders can make individuals feel hopeless, confused, and fearful, causing a transformation in the body, the mind, and the spirit. Spirituality opens the door for personal growth. A respectful relationship with one’s self combined with positive reinforcement of spirituality through things such as prayer, meditation, mindfulness, yoga, and gratitude during recovery can help someone turn the corner and find hope again. Additionally, tools to transform pain and find a new source of meaning can be as simple as asking questions of ourselves.
- What is most important in my life?
- To what should I devote my energy and attention?
- How should I deal with suffering?
- To what or whom am I accountable?
- How do I understand my life’s purpose?
For someone who has an eating disorder, these questions may be hard, as immense amounts of energy have been devoted to only the body. But approaching them with a sense of adventure can help to find purpose and reiterate that life is so much more than size.
How does Magnolia Creek incorporate spirituality?
Many individuals find solace in spirituality and harnessing those feelings and directing them towards recovery can prove powerful. At Magnolia Creek, we offer evidence-based comprehensive treatment for individuals suffering from an eating disorder. Part of our program includes our Christian Pathway, which is grounded in the belief that faith is a central part of the healing process. We envelop the daily treatment process by beginning and ending the day with spiritual reflection opportunities. Our faith-based group is led by Sojourners, individuals consisting of clinicians, that help guide the spiritual journey. Each of the women believes by weaving biblical principles and spiritual living into recovery can lead to freedom from an eating disorder. The Christian Pathway at Magnolia Creek is Christian-based but we welcome women from all faiths and backgrounds to participate. Our goal is to make each woman in our care feel comfortable and respected.
Spirituality can help in finding strength in overcoming an eating disorder. It can also lead individuals to find faith in themselves and their future, and not in an eating disorder that has gripped them for so long. Properly nourishing the mind and the body is an imperative part of treatment but nourishing the soul can increase assurance that better days lie ahead.
If you or someone you love has questions about the next steps for treating an eating disorder, contact Magnolia Creek today. Our team of professionals can help you walk into freedom. Complete our contact form or call us at 205-409-4220 for more information.