Spirituality refers to a concern for the soul and a sense of something bigger than oneself. It includes religious beliefs and practices, but may also involve activities such as meditation, yoga or quiet time spent in nature. Many people consider themselves to be spiritual, even if they do not identify as religious. The percentage of people who consider themselves to be religious in industrialized countries is decreasing, but the number who claim to be spiritual remains high.
Despite the common perception of spirituality as being intangible and abstract, research shows that it is an important aspect of overall wellbeing. This is attributed to the fact that spirituality can help individuals cope with stress, depression and anxiety. It can also provide a sense of hope and optimism.
The definition of spirituality varies considerably. For some, it is related to a belief in God, while for others it may be related to a belief in reincarnation or life after death. There are no agreed-upon definitions of spirituality in the literature and it is difficult to define and measure. Some measures may require that participants believe in a god or deity to be considered as being spiritual, but this is problematic since not all persons are religious.
It is important for health care workers to know that a person’s spiritual dimension can differ from their religion and can include non-religious elements. A key difference between spirituality and religion is that whereas religion is a set of beliefs and values, spirituality is a personal experience.