Wellness - individual

Spiritual spoke 15/03/2018

By Tracy Churchill and Kate Jurd


Take a deep breath and slowly let it out.  Roll your shoulders backwards and then forwards. Smile.

You have made the wise decision to come to the spiritual spoke of the wellness wheel.  We are glad you are here.  Have you ever considered how spirituality affects your health or your work performance?  Spirituality connects us to the bigger picture, to other people and to the best version of ourselves.  In ED, all of these things are important.  Spiritual health connects each small action we make with the grander picture of health for all.

Some theorists feel that some occupations can support our spirituality, and that by choosing a career in which one can help others (like a career in health) we are developing our spiritual selves.  Although many of us chose a career in ED because of our love for people and desire to help others, in our daily work we are repeatedly subjected to pain, horror and suffering.

Some studies have demonstrated that when we see something happen to us, our brain and body can react as though the issue has happened to us (Scutti, 2016) -for example when men watch a video clip of being hit in the nether region, and respond by recoiling or making a noise as though they themselves had been hit.  So what does this mean for us who are delivered suffering on a stretcher multiple times a shift?

We need a way to reconnect ourselves with the bigger picture.  Spirituality in health can mean different things to different people.  Some people take time for meditation, religious prayer or bring mindfulness to work.  There are three aspects of spirituality we would like to share with you today:

  1. Purpose
  2. Values
  3. Being mindful


Part of being spiritually healthy is knowing at a deep level that what we do matters.  This concept is well captured by the Japanese word ‘Ikigai’ which translated means: reason for being.  In the diagram below, our reason for being is our unique purpose – it is shown in the area where our joy, skill, interest and the world need overlap.


Self Reflection Questions for Purpose/ Ikigai:

What you LOVE:

  • What do you love?
  • What delights you and brings you a sense of purpose at work?
  • What work that energizes me the most is…?
  • What themes emerge for you?

What you are GOOD AT:

  • What specific tasks, duties, and responsibilities are you great at (and enjoy) and are needed now at your work?
  • Ask a few friends and colleagues the same question for an outside perspective.
  • What do you get complimented for?
  • What skills, knowledge, and abilities do you want to improve in the next 6 months?

What the world NEEDS:

  • What unique talents, characteristics or attributes do you bring to your job that is needed by the organization, your patients, and the world?

What you can be PAID FOR:

  • This tends to be completely obvious or a very challenging question, think about where all the above three categories land from a business and financial perspective.

When you have considered all four aspects of the Ikigai- try to identify where they all meet.  This is where you will find your purpose!


Our values are what we hold dear in life, and these support our Ikigai.  Our values shape our beliefs and our moral character, which in turn impacts how we interact with others.  A person who values connection will devote more time to relationships with others, whereas a person who values integrity may spend more time on honest and direct communication.  Understanding what is important to us helps us to have more clarity in decision making, and also highlights where we should not spend our time and energy.

Self reflection activity for Values:

  • Click on this link to find a list of values to help you determine which are most important for you.  Identify those which jump out at you, then narrow that list down to ten.
  • Prioritise them in numerical order and put this list up where you can see it every day.
  • This list may change at different times in your life, but it seeing this list can help remind you of your purpose (and the qualities supporting you to be that).

Being Mindful

Being mindful is the third aspect of the spiritual spoke.  There are many ways of bringing mindfulness into our lives, such as meditation, religious prayer, journalling, personal reflection, time in nature, yoga, authentic connection with others or affirmations.  What these activities have in common is that they connect us to the present and bring awareness to what it is we are doing.  Being mindful refers not only to how we are feeling internally, or how we express ourselves externally, but also to being aware of how our actions or words affect others around us.

Self Reflection Questions for Being Mindful:

  • Are there any situations which still replay in my mind?  What are they?
  • Do I notice myself getting upset, flustered or distracted easily at work?  When does this happen and why?
  • Could any of these strategies be useful at helping me to see it differently or work through the issue from a different perspective?
  • Pick a strategy and set aside a designated time to try it out.

A brief note on Religion and Spirituality

For many people, their religion is their spirituality.  Their religion may align with their beliefs, morals and values and provide a ritual for them which is beneficial.  It is not necessary to be religious to be spiritual.  As the definition mentioned, spirituality is concerned with the state of the soul rather than external things.  We have deliberately not delved into religions as there are so many and we would not like to exclude any particular group of people, or misrepresent any religion by accident or omission.  It is for this reason also that we have a non denominational meditation course listed in the resource section.

For lots of great additional resources and a trainee perspective video – click – spiritual spoke e-learning



Scutti, S. (2016).  We Unconsciously Mimic Others Facial Expressions to Feel what they Feel.  Medical Daily.  Accessed from: http://www.medicaldaily.com/facial-mimicry-emotions-unconscious-feelings-373204

About Kate Jurd

About Tracy Churchill



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