Apr 18, 2018

From the Archives

How Spiritual Americans Practice Self-Care

Recent Barna data shows that most Americans are open to investing in their mental health through counseling. Additionally, conversations about “self-care” have entered the mainstream as people seek out ways to unplug, relax and pursue personal health and growth. There are plenty of other approaches to well-being, particularly among those who are already inclined toward religious or spiritual activity. In this study, we asked American adults who identify as Christian and / or spiritual to identify practices they participate in on a regular basis—some more spiritual in nature, some that could be more broadly categorized as self-help or self-improvement. To see more data on this topic and other common habits, get a copy of Barna Trends 2018.

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One in Four Adults Finds Time to Get Outside and Think Deeply
A plurality of American adults in this study (25%) prefers to spend time in nature for reflection as their favored form of self-care. Next on the list is reading books on spiritual topics (21%)—no surprise for a more spiritually motivated crowd. Contemplative practices like meditation (19%), silence and/or solitude (16%) and journaling (14%) follow. Yoga (12%) and attending groups or retreats (12%) are the least common self-care practices.

Reflecting in nature is a common ground for self-care, popular across the demographics of spiritual Americans and Christians.

Generations Unwind in Different Ways
Younger generations of those in the sample are open to a variety of ways of investing in themselves. Millennials gravitate toward getting everything out on paper (28% say they journal, compared to only 3% among Elders). Yoga is a fairly common practice among both Millennials (18%) and Gen X (17%), though much rarer among older generations (4% Boomers, 3% Elders). Though Boomers and Elders are hesitant to participate in some of the activities listed, they most enjoy spiritual reading and time spent in nature.

Purchase Barna Trends 2018: Your guide to the latest cultural, religious and political trends.

The Class Factor in Self-Care
High- ($75K+) and middle-income ($40-75K) earners sampled take advantage of attending retreats, reading spiritual books or practicing yoga— forms of self-improvement that usually require some kind of financial investment.

Adults with higher levels of education are drawn toward cerebral expressions of self-care, such as silence and solitude, or meditation.

Having more education correlates with having more interest in practicing silence and solitude.

Regardless of income or education level, spending time in nature or journaling are similarly appealing to all spiritually-inclined adults sampled.

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About the Research
The study on which these findings are based was conducted via online surveys conducted in November 2016. A total of 1,089 interviews were conducted among U.S. adults who self-identify as Christian or spiritual, aged 18 years of age or older. The sample error is plus or minus 1.9 percentage point at 95-percent confidence level. This data originally appeared in Barna Trends 2018, in which the sample was incorrectly labeled as all U.S. adults. This question was only asked of U.S. adults who identify as Christian and / or as spiritual.

About Barna

Since 1984, Barna Group has conducted more than two million interviews over the course of thousands of studies and has become a go-to source for insights about faith, culture, leadership, vocation and generations. Barna is a private, non-partisan, for-profit organization.

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