Total Force Fitness and Cooperative Extension: Spiritual Fitness

In this week’s Friday Field Notes, we will explore the resources available through cooperative extension to promote spiritual fitness.

Service Member Deployment Cycle

What is Spiritual Fitness?

Ideology and spirituality are a broad spectrum of behaviors, values, and beliefs that individuals hold in regards to their own spirit or soul. For some, their spirituality involves a specific religion, but others practice spirituality through connections with others and/or nature. Ideology and spirituality are associated with lower rates of depression and anxiety as well as possibly assisting military families with coping with the stresses of military life.

For some, ideology and spirituality are a key part of their self-care routine. To learn more about the importance of self-care routines, watch our webinar At Our Best: Caregiving Today,  a part of MLFN’s Kids Serve Too! partnership with Sesame Street for Military Families. In this webinar, presenters discuss the importance of self-care for caregivers and give ideas to start a self-care routine.

Cooperative Extension and Spiritual Fitness

Cooperative extension provides resources to help individual and families focus on their ideology and spirituality. For example, North Carolina State Extension has collected resources in their youth-focused #passthemike initiative that deal with topics such as religious literacy, islamophobia, and antisemitism. Contact your local extension office to learn more about the programs and resources in your area.

Spiritual fitness. Having an ideological or spiritual practice can help military members cope with stress, improve family relationships, reduce anxiety and depression and improve overall performance.  Use HPRC’s spiritual fitness checklist daily reflection to build your spiritual fitness.

Mindfulness. Mindfulness is a great way to develop one’s spirituality. Please see our previous blog on psychological fitness to learn more about the opportunities cooperative extension provides to learn more about mindfulness.

Self-care. Self-care is an important part of caring for one’s psychological health. Cooperative extension provides educational resources to learn about the importance of self-care, as well as ideas for self-care routines. For example, have a look at these ideas from Kentucky and Maine cooperative extension.

Gratitude. Gratitude is when you recognize the good you’ve received, savor it, and show your appreciation to someone, something, or a higher power.The practice of “counting your blessings” is backed by religion and science, and it can help you improve your well-being, performance, sleep, relationships, blood pressure, and stress levels. Use HPRC’s Gratitude Calendar to help you implement gratitude into your daily practice.

For more information on Ideological and Spiritual fitness, please visit the Mental Fitness section on www.hprc-online.org. You’ll find science-based information about how improving your spiritual fitness can optimize your performance.