Did You Know: Benefits of a Spiritual Practice
There are many research studies that show a positive correlation between spiritual practice and our mental and physical well-being. This includes both religious and non-religious practices.
Spirituality and religion offer a transcendent experience that brings people beyond their physical and material existence. Spirituality can be found within religion. Connecting with a higher power or something greater than ourselves.
However, spirituality can also include how we connect and find meaning in the relationships we currently have with ourselves, with our children, family, pets, with nature, with our hobbies, and even with our work.
There are common themes in a spiritual practice.
Generally, these correlate with positive mental health. So for example, having a spiritual practice gives us meaning, joy, hope and purpose in life. It can be a template for how we cope and how we deal with a crisis situation.
It can give us a deeper understanding and meaning of how to make sense of the world around us, especially when we experience loss or suffering. And also, it provides a belief that there’s a greater meaning of why something negative or uncontrollable happened to us and therefore creates some space in terms of us blaming ourselves for what happened.
There are many benefits to a regular spiritual or religious practice, such as practicing meditation, prayer and yoga. They show an improvement in mental health, specifically a decrease in anxiety and a decrease in stress.
Specifically, stress-related illnesses can also be decreased due to the practice of spiritual practices, including the decrease in cortisol, which is a stress hormone and a decrease in norepinephrine, which is basically adrenaline.
Studies show that there’s a decrease in depression, and this can be attributed to the benefits of the social support that can be received finding more meaning and purpose in life, and also a belief in a transcendent being.
There’s evidence that shows that there is an increased calm that may be experienced, increased empathy, concentration, self-awareness, self-confidence and even self-esteem.
There can also be a renewed sense of meaning and hope, rather than hopelessness or helplessness, and also a better understanding of ourselves and how we relate to others.
Generally, connecting with spirituality helps bring inspiration and creativity into our lives, it helps us see things differently. It can also motivate us to connect to the greater hold around us. So it’s not just all about us anymore, which can actually be a relief.
Also, many spiritual and religious practices encourage positive behaviors and limit maladaptive behaviors that might cause harm to us or others. They generally also encourage and foster pleasant emotions, such as hope, love and forgiveness.
A disclaimer there are some spiritual and religious practices that can decrease our mental well-being and harm us or others, so please do your research before committing to spiritual practice.
Spiritual practices can be a positive tool in your mental health toolkit. Life is a journey of self-discovery and for some, the discovery inward leads to an unexpected exploration and discovery of something greater than themselves.