Please note: This information was current at the time of publication. But medical information is always changing, and some information given here may be out of date. For regularly updated information on a variety of health topics, please visit, the AAFP patient education website.

Information from Your Family Doctor

Spirituality and Health


Am Fam Physician. 2001 Jan 1;63(1):89.

What is spirituality?

Spirituality is the way you find meaning, hope, comfort and inner peace in your life. Many people find spirituality through religion. Some find it through music, art or a connection with nature. Others find it in their values and principles.

How is spirituality related to health?

No one really knows. However, it seems the body, mind and spirit are connected. The health of any one of those three seems to affect the health of the others.

Some research shows that such things as positive beliefs, comfort and strength gained from religion, meditation and prayer can contribute to healing and a sense of well-being. Improving your spiritual health may not cure an illness, but it may help you to feel better, to prevent certain illnesses and to cope with illness or death.

How can I improve my spiritual health?

If you want to strengthen your spiritual health, you may want to try the following ideas. Remember, though, that everyone is different, so what works for others may not work for you. Do what is comfortable for you.

  • Think about the things in your life that give you a sense of inner peace, comfort, strength, love and connection.

  • Set aside time every day to do the things that help you spiritually. These may include community service, volunteer work, prayer, meditation, devotional singing, reading inspirational books, nature walks, quiet time for thinking, yoga, playing a sport or attending religious services.

Why does my doctor need to know about my spiritual beliefs? How can that help?

If you are being treated for an illness, it's important for your doctor to know how your spirituality might be affecting your outlook or concern about your medical situation. If you think your spiritual beliefs are affecting your health care decisions or your ability to follow through with your doctor's recommendations, talk with your doctor.

If you have spiritual beliefs, worries or concerns that are causing you stress, talk with your doctor. Your doctor would like to help in every way possible. If your doctor can't help you with these issues, he or she may be able to suggest someone who can.

This handout is provided to you by your family doctor and the American Academy of Family Physicians. Other health-related information is available from the AAFP online at

This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.


Copyright © 2001 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
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