4 Great Health Benefits of Spirituality

 

 Spiritualism–a search for something sacred–is an increasingly important topic to people today.  Individuals approach the realm of spirituality through religion, meditation, yoga, or even personal reflection.  For many people, spirituality is the way to find meaning, hope, and comfort.  Beyond the comfort of inner peace, I’d like to share four great health benefits that spirituality can provide.  

Live a Longer Life

Does religion and spirituality play a strong role in your health?  A team from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health decided to address that question over a 16-year study.  The researchers found that those who attended religious services more than once per week had a 33% lower risk of dying during the 16 years of follow-up than those who never attended religious services.  The researchers also found that people who went to services regularly had lower rates of smoking and were more likely to have stronger social support than those who didn’t.

Lower Risk of Depression

Researchers from Harvard also discovered that those who regularly attended religious services had lower rates of depression and risk of suicide.  From a scientific standpoint, research from Columbia University suggests that spirituality may protect against major depression by thickening the brain cortex and counteracting the cortical thinning that would normally occur with major depression.

More Likely To Cope With Stress

The Pew Research Center found that 42% of “highly spiritual” people will meditate when stressed, rather than overeat or indulge in unhealthy behaviors.  In addition, Harvard researchers found that practices of prayer and meditation invite the body to produce a “relaxation response”.   This response consists of a lower heart rate, blood pressure, and a reduced need for oxygen.  In other words, the relaxation response is the exact opposite of the stress response.

Social Connection

Spirituality can also help with feelings of social isolation.  A study published in the Journal of Religion and Health stated that being religious appears to decrease people’s sense of self in a positive way, leaving them feeling more connected to the world.   After food and shelter, social connection is one of the top predictors of health and happiness.  People who identify as “religious” are more likely to spend time with family.  Also, they feel a strong sense of belonging to a community of like-minded people.

Finally…

Did this post help you understand the health benefits of spirituality?  I’d love to hear your thoughts at hello@heartandsoulblog.com.  And be sure to subscribe to our newsletter to receive health and wellness blog tips straight to your inbox each Friday.

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