Why Feeding Your Soul Is Just As Important As Feeding Your Body — And 15 Ways To Do It

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how do you feed your soul

When you hear the word "hunger," you probably associate that with your physical body needing food. You identify hunger from pains in your stomach or when your stomach literally growls at you. But, in addition to physical hunger, your soul hungers, too.

Similarly, would you know what soul hunger feels like? Do you know how to feed your soul in the same way you feed your body? Feeding your soul is important, and learning how to do it can make your life so much better.

What does ‘feeding your soul’ mean?

"Feeding your soul" refers to nourishing the innermost part of your being, the essence that defines who you are beyond physical and material needs. It encompasses engaging in activities or experiences that bring joy, fulfillment, and a sense of purpose. This could involve pursuing hobbies that ignite passion, spending time with loved ones, seeking moments of solitude for self-reflection, practicing mindfulness, or connecting with nature and art. In essence, it is about prioritizing your emotional and spiritual well-being to find greater meaning and contentment in life.

Feeding your soul is as important as feeding your body.

First, identify your soul. The soul is defined in a variety of ways. The most detailed definition comes from the Merriam-Webster dictionary: "the spiritual principle embodied in human beings, all rational and spiritual beings, or the universe." For example, the soul’s invisible connection to God. You’re not walking around detached, but actually attached to something greater like the Universe or God. It can also be defined as a connection to the self.

Your soul is the deepest, truest part of the self. This part is connected to something outside the obvious. It's the soul’s connection to the unseen and is often intangible. Therefore, it can be God, angels, energy, spirit, universe, nature, or something else. It’s where the true self resides and yet you typically walk around either avoiding, numbing, or stuffing so that the soul ends up deprived and neglected.

How do you know if your soul is hungry?

Does your soul emit hunger pangs like your stomach would if it needed food? Does your soul growl when it needs sustenance?

There are 4 metaphorical "hunger pangs" your soul will communicate to you if it needs to be fed:

  • You will suffer from bitterness and resentment in your life. This usually is a product of poor boundaries.
  • You will feel tired. Fatigue comes from not getting enough rest or overcommitting yourself (again, poor boundaries).
  • You might experience burnout at work or home.
  • You're using food to try and manage your emotions, fatigue, and stress.

Pay attention, because feeding your soul is as important as feeding your body.

Feeding your soul takes practice. Do you resonate with any of these soul-hunger pangs? If so, then you can explore ways to feed your soul. But, a word of caution, this takes practice and baby steps. Don’t expect to go from hunger to fullness right away. Remember, go slow and explore the best options for yourself so that you can build a repertoire of potential soul-feeding strategies.

Here are 15 ways to feed your soul and reach fulfillment.

1. Start by asking yourself if any of the four types of soul 'hunger pangs' resonate with you.

Pick one to focus on. For example, if you’re exhausted, see if setting an earlier bedtime or having a wind-down routine would result in you getting more rest. Rest is one of the greatest things your soul can consume.

2. Give yourself 30-60 minutes a day designated just for you.

Gradually build up to that time, but until then set aside at least some time where you get to do anything you want. During this time, focus on self-care. This is not the time to clean the toilets; this is your time to sit and stare at a wall if you want to.

3. Give yourself space to feel your emotions.

For instance, you have feelings and experiences every day. Give yourself some time to check in and see what you’re feeling, and if anything needs to be released — through a journal, a walk/run, or by calling a trusted friend. Name your feelings and know that it’s OK to feel what you need to feel.

4. Learn to say 'no.'

Boundaries are essential to feeding your soul. Without those, you will end up bitter, resentful, and exhausted. Remember, it’s not your job to make everyone happy. Let the people in your life be responsible for themselves and you focus on taking care of yourself.

5. Stop worrying about what other people think of you.

I love Brene Brown’s tool for this. She recommends getting a sticky note and putting the names of 2-3 people that matter on that sticky note. These names should be people that are safe and have your back. They are trusted and love you. Then, when you start to worry about what someone thinks, ask yourself if they are on your list. If not, let it go.

6. Create a spa day for yourself.

Whether it's a scheduled massage or an at-home facial, put on the music, light the candles, and relax.

7. See if meditation would benefit your soul.

Think about your quiet time, considering whether or not meditation is something that will help. Give it a try and notice how it feels. The app Insight Timer has about 65,000 free meditations you can try.

8. Listen to music.

Listening to music is truly food for the soul. Music has been known to have a powerful effect on the mind, body, and spirit. Whether it’s dance music you get to boogie to or it’s soft and relaxing, music will nourish you and lift you up.

9. Find something that makes you laugh.

When was the last time you laughed? Laughter is also a feast for the soul. A comedy, a meme, or a joke. Anything that gets a good belly laugh going is a great thing.

10. Play.

Feeding your soul can be achieved through play. When was the last time you played, whether that was frolicking in the snow or playing a card game with your spouse or kids? Get out the board games and have fun. Play a little and notice how your soul responds.

11. Perform acts of kindness.

When you perform kind gestures, whether big or small, you experience a sense of fulfillment and connectedness to others, creating a positive impact on both the giver and receiver. Engaging in acts of kindness triggers the release of "feel-good" chemicals like oxytocin and dopamine, leading to increased feelings of happiness and well-being, nourishing your soul with a profound sense of purpose and meaning.

12. Go for a walk.

Connecting with nature can enrich your soul by offering a much-needed respite from your hectic daily life. Natural surroundings facilitate a sense of tranquility and mindfulness, enabling you to be fully present in the moment. Engaging with nature's beauty by hiking in the woods or strolling along the beach evokes feelings of gratitude and inner peace, providing nourishment for the soul.

13. Pick up a book.

Reading has the power to deeply nourish your soul by taking you on journeys to new places and exposing you to a wide array of ideas. Through literature, you can develop empathy, broaden your understanding of the world, and find inspiration, all of which help feed your soul with knowledge and wisdom.

14. Spend time with your pet.

Spending time with a pet fosters a profound emotional bond. The unconditional love and companionship creates a sense of joy, comfort, and emotional support.

15. Clean.

Engaging in cleaning activities can be soul-nourishing as it brings a sense of order and harmony to your living space. Tidying up and decluttering have therapeutic effects, and can lead to improved mental and emotional well-being, offering a renewed sense of clarity that deeply feeds your soul.

The hunger of your soul is just as important as the hunger of your body.

One of the greatest things about feeding your soul is that you won’t need to avoid, distract, or use food to manage stress, emotions, and everyday life. Always remember that feeding your soul is just as important as feeding your body. I hope that you can be more aware, notice your soul’s hunger, and start feeding yourself in ways that nurture and uplift you. Above all, you deserve it.

Lesley Goth, PsyD, is a writer, speaker, clinical psychologist, and sustainable weight loss coach. She is an expert in the fields of anxiety, depression, trauma, and couples counseling.

This article was originally published at Denver Family Counseling Services. Reprinted with permission from the author.