Spiritual Well-Being Predicts Psychological Well-Being
By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.
“Spiritual wellbeing means the ability to experience and integrate meaning and purpose in life through a person’s connectedness with self, others art, music, literature, nature, or a power greater than oneself.” – Ritika Srivastava
There is a lot of pressure on university students to excel. This stress might in fact be counterproductive as the increased pressure can actually lead to stress and anxiety which can impede the student’s physical and mental health, well-being, and school performance. Religion and spirituality have been promulgated as solutions to the challenges of life. There have been a number of studies of the influence of religiosity and spirituality on the physical and psychological well-being of practitioners mostly showing positive benefits, with spirituality encouraging personal growth and mental health. This suggests that student spirituality may be associated with their psychological well-being.
In today’s Research News article “Cross-sectional study of the relationship between the spiritual wellbeing and psychological health among university Students.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8049307/ ) Leung and colleagues recruited university students and had them complete measures of spiritual well-being, including measures of personal and communal, environmental, and transcendental well-being, depression, anxiety, and perceived stress.
They found that the higher the levels of spiritual well-being, including measures of personal and communal, environmental, and transcendental well-being, the lower the levels of depression, anxiety, and perceived stress. They also found that participants who indicated that they had religious beliefs had higher levels of depression, anxiety, perceived stress, and spiritual well-being.
These findings are correlational and as such no conclusions regarding causation can be reached. The fact that spiritual well-being was higher in students with religious beliefs but depression, anxiety, and perceived stress were higher suggests that the results were not due to a causal connection. In this case having higher spiritual well-being was not associated with better psychological well-being. Nevertheless, the results clearly show that spiritual well-being is highly related to higher levels of psychological well-being The results also suggest that religiosity is related to poorer psychological well-being. There are no data on the reasons for the relationships but perhaps reverse causation is involved such that higher levels of psychological distress may reduce students’ psychological well-being and prompt them to seek out religion.
So, spiritual well-being predicts psychological well-being.
“whole health requires care and attention for not only your physical body but also your mind and spirit. The benefits of spiritual well-being are numerous – from more compassionate relationships to a deeper sense of inner peace. – Advent Health
CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies
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Leung, C. H., & Pong, H. K. (2021). Cross-sectional study of the relationship between the spiritual wellbeing and psychological health among university Students. PloS one, 16(4), e0249702. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0249702
University students’ spiritual wellbeing has been shown to be associated with quality, satisfaction, and joy of life. This study tested the relationship between spiritual wellbeing and symptoms of psychological disorders (i.e., depression, anxiety and stress) among Chinese university students in Hong Kong. Cross-sectional data were collected from N = 500 students (aged 17–24; 279 women). The participants were asked to complete the Spiritual Health and Life-Orientation Measure (SHALOM) to evaluate the status of their spiritual wellbeing in the personal and communal, environmental, and transcendental domains, and the Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale-21 (DASS-21) to assess their emotional states of depression, anxiety and stress. All domains of spiritual wellbeing were negatively associated with psychological distress. Hierarchical Multiple Regression showed that together the three domains of spirituality explained 79.9%, 71.3% and 85.5% of the variance in students’ depression, anxiety and stress respectively. The personal and communal domain of spiritual wellbeing was the strongest predictor of psychological distress.