Revera’s Six Dimensions of Wellness is a holistic approach to health and wellness that includes: physical, social, intellectual, emotional, spiritual and community engagement. Since the start of the new year, we have been exploring each of these dimensions in closer detail.
Life can be full of stressful situations. In order to cope, some people rely on the support of their family and friends. Others combine their experience with a deeper sense of personal understanding by exploring their spirituality to find peace within themselves.
Spiritualism is often associated with a person’s religious affiliation, but it also has a much broader meaning. It can be understood as a person’s connectedness to the world around them and to others. In any case, what’s important is the journey and pursuit of purpose in life and the greater appreciation for the world and others that it can bring to one’s life.
Toby Ciglen, 86, moved into Revera’s Forest Hill Place in Toronto, Ontario in 2016 with her husband. The retired actress says it was an easy adjustment for them as they knew the neighbourhood well and it fit their lifestyle.
With her Jewish background, Ciglen’s spiritualism helps her to maintain a positive outlook on life. “Personally, I pray by myself, but of course always hold and need a strong connection to my religious community. I like doing this because it relieves me and takes away the worry and pressure that I may be experiencing.”
Jennifer Sardella is the Director of Recreation at Forest Hill Place and designs the programs, including those that focus on a person’s spiritual development. She says that sometimes new residents enter a retirement residence with a sense of loss. Spiritual programs can help them to overcome negative feelings and redirect their focus to more positive elements in their lives.
“Sometimes there can be a lot of negativity, and I thought we should really focus on gratitude and being grateful for what we have,” says Sardella.
Gratitude and appreciation are major factors in spiritual health, and it’s a mantra that Ciglen subscribes to. “I always look forward to the next day and I’m grateful for that. It’s my attitude of gratitude! I like that saying and I like to be positive and spread positivity to those around me.”
A popular program at Forest Hill Place that residents have done is to design their own “gratitude jars” where they can place little notes inside about things they are grateful for. When they may be experiencing difficult moments, they can go to their jars and pull out their notes as a reminder of all the positive things in their lives.
Being spiritually connected also allows Ciglen to form strong bonds with others. The spiritual programs she participates in give her the opportunity to expand upon her own beliefs and challenge her views. “I like the spiritual programs of mindfulness at Forest Hill Place as they allow us to have group discussions and open conversations in a non-judgmental atmosphere.”
Sardella says exercises that encourage spirituality have the added benefit of mindfulness. “It’s about giving residents the tools to be more mindful, which can deter them from becoming depressed, lonely or isolated. To be mindful allows you to be more in tune with those around you and create better understanding towards others. They get that sense of camaraderie.”
Ciglen says her spiritual understanding allows her to be more connected not just with others, but also with herself. “I’m reminded I can go with the flow, unless it’s against my principles, and I like that about myself. I’m adaptable and I’m able to adapt to different situations and personalities. Each person is a unique individual.”
As we age, participation in spiritual programs is an important activity to keep us grounded. Activities such as yoga, tai chi and meditation – many of which can be found in Revera’s residences – are great tools to help us cope with challenges and rejoice in the wonders of life. If physical exercise is about maintaining able-bodiedness, spiritual exercise is about able-mindfulness. Age does not diminish a person’s ability to find joy. If anything, it increases the opportunity to take pleasure in others’ company and experience what the world has to offer.