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Service Members Build Resilience
Spirituality: It Helps Build Resilience Hotline Help Numbers

Spirituality: It Helps Build Resilience

Can you relate to any of these scenarios?

You’re worried because you have fallen behind in a bill payment, and a collection agency is hounding you. Unexpectedly, you receive a call from a friend, who says he has just mailed you a check for the loan you advanced him more than a year ago. This fortunate timing could be written off as a coincidence but you don’t believe in coincidences, so you say a quiet prayer of thanks.

You have just come back from a mission. While out, your squad had to make some hard choices that have left you shaken. You take a few deep breaths and reach into your pocket to find your familiar prayer beads. You recite a mantra that helps you regain balance in a difficult time.

The deployment has been long and every new day seems like the last. You’re tired and bored, and you’ve lost focus and meaning in your job. You take a few moments to go on deck and look at the sunset. Its beauty is awesome and you remember teachings from your childhood that all living things have a purpose; there is a balance in nature. It’s a refreshing experience and you feel revitalized.


Spirituality is a key characteristic of resilience, but what exactly is it?

Many people use the terms religion and spirituality interchangeably, but they are two separate concepts that often overlap. Simply put, religion is a belief system that adheres to a doctrine or doctrines, while spirituality is a personal belief, which may or may not include a belief in God.

Spirituality acts as a filter through which a person sees and interacts with the world. Think of it like this:

Religion and spirituality diagram

Spirituality and religion usually influence how a person lives, how he or she reacts to stressful situations and how well and how quickly a person recovers from emotional strain.

People with a spiritual or religious orientation may view a variety of life’s areas as sacred and thus seek help when they feel their physical and emotional well-being is threatened. Some may view life through such a filter as the one above. They believe there is an ultimate purpose for them, and they glean hope from that belief even in the most tragic and distressing of circumstances.

A spiritual or religious orientation is associated with better mental health. It can help increase self-esteem, find meaning in life, improve family and special relationships, decrease drug and alcohol abuse and lead to less sexual promiscuity. Spirituality provides a moral compass to help navigate life.

Questions about religion and spirituality are common. To help find clarification, consider talking to a Chaplain, Religious Petty Officer, a lay-leader on your ship or in your unit, or a clerical authority or spiritual leader in the civilian community.