How Spirituality Can Boost our Mental Health

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We have finally arrived at a time in which the scientific community is embracing the importance of spirituality, as philosophers have done for hundreds of years.

By Freelance Writer, Sally Perkins

Research has shown that when we break down walls and make spirituality and self-awareness part of our daily lives, we can reap powerful benefits – everything from a reduction of stress and anxiety, to a generally better mood. In this post, we highlight a few ways that spirituality can be used to bring about greater mental health.

Spirituality and a Greater Chance at Happiness

mental healthOne recent study has shown that making time for spiritual or religious observation is linked to greater happiness. Researchers note that believing in a God or a greater life force can bolster us in times and reduce the sense of isolation and hopelessness. Shared spiritual practice can also help us form a social network, which can be of great help when we need someone to talk to or spend time with.

Spirituality, Depression, and Anxiety

Because spirituality has always been linked to nature, nature therapy (either spending time in nature, ‘forest bathing’ or practicing a sport in the Great Outdoors) is a current complementary therapy for many mental conditions, including depression and anxiety.

When people engage in talks about important issues such as the meaning and worth of life with other people who offer understanding and empathy, they can feel a greater sense of hope and companionship.

Spiritual traditions like meditation and prayer keep the mind ‘in the here and now’, a state in which individuals acknowledge negative thoughts and emotions without letting them take control over their mental wellbeing. Mindfulness pursuits have been found to significantly lower levels of stress hormones, which is why they are so important when it comes to preventing panic attacks and severe dips in mood and energy.

Spirituality and Serious Mental Diseases

Depression and anxiety can sometimes be severe, but disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolarism are inherently serious. Since they cause mood swings, difficulty interacting with others and communication issues (as well as hallucinations in the case of schizophrenia), the choice treatments for schizophrenia and other serious mental conditions nearly always involves medication and cognitive behavioral therapy.

Lifestyle choices such as engaging in spiritual pursuits can serve as a complementary activity for people battling these conditions, since they can help battle the stress that these disorders bring. Symptoms of conditions such as severe depression, bipolarism, or schizophrenia are always exacerbated by poor sleep and stress.

Therefore, health professionals highlight the importance of strict routine, regular exercise, a sound diet, and stress relief. The latter has been found in many studies to arise when spiritual practices such as religious worship, yoga, or mindfulness meditation are pursued.

Spirituality is a wide concept that essentially involves belief in a greater power. It encompasses, but it’s not necessarily limited to religion, and can be practiced in an organized or individual fashion. Regardless of whether or not you are facing a mental struggle, spirituality can play a useful role in your life by helping you battle daily stressors and build solid networks that can stand you in good stead during difficult moments in your life.

Header photograph copyright Hugues De Buyer Mimeure

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Occasional contributors to Bellesprit Magazine between 2011 – 2013.

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