For ages, the terms religion and spirituality have often been used interchangeably. Both have to do with trying to understand the meaning of life. Spirituality and religion also offer a sense of comfort and peace to people who are in distress. Both can also make an impact on a person’s mental health.
Despite all the similarities of religion and spirituality, they are still different. Spirituality can be quite broad. It is having a belief in something that is bigger than ourselves. It helps people to understand their connection to others and the world. Religion, on the other hand, is more organized and is based more on the beliefs of a community. It is an organized collection of beliefs, cultural systems, and world views.
Since both spirituality and religion can bring a sense of comfort, people can find strength in their spirituality or religious beliefs to cope with stressful situations. Having a belief system can go a long way in improving one’s mental health and wellbeing.
Here’s what you need to know about how spirituality relates to mental health.
Spirituality and Mental Health
At first glance, it may not seem like religion has any relation to mental health. However, there is a wide range of spiritual practices that can improve your mental health, such as:
- Spending time in deep meditation, prayers, or reflection
- Participating in symbolic practices, rituals, and other means of worship
- Following traditions such as Tai Chi, yoga, and other disciplined practices
- Creativity in the form of painting, cooking, sculpturing, gardening, and other similar activities
Spirituality is extremely personal and involves finding quiet moments for meditation, studying spiritual materials, or developing connections with supportive friends who have similar beliefs. Some spiritual practices are derived from various religions across the world. It is common for many mental health treatments and therapies to have a spiritual aspect that is not specific to any religion.
People seeking spiritual healing from mental health challenges may also need:
- Time and privacy to worship and pray
- A chance to discover their spiritual concerns
- Forgiveness in some cases
- Encouragement to practice and strengthen their faith
- Reassurances that their faith will be respected by the psychiatrist
Benefits Associated with Spirituality
One way to view spirituality is to recognize that it helps people understand the meaning of life. Since spirituality incorporates various practices that are good for both body and mind, it can provide people with benefits to their mental health:
- Helps improve self-esteem and self-control
Spirituality enables individuals to have better self-esteem, confidence, and self-control. It gives an individual a sense of self-empowerment, enhances a person’s connection to what he or she believes, and helps them accept other individuals regardless of their spiritual beliefs.
- Develops a sense of community
People can develop a sense of community with people who have similar spiritual or religious beliefs. Spirituality can unite people with similar belief systems into a community. Being part of organized religions can give people a source of social support. The community facilitates social interaction and trustworthiness, which in turn helps the mental health of individuals.
- Encourages mindfulness
Spirituality is also associated with self-reflection and meditation. These are healthy practices, and they influence a person’s mental state in a positive way. As a result, one feels connected to others and leads a meaningful life. Moreover, spiritual practices induce expression in forms such as poetry, myths, art, or religious practices.
- Develops a unity with their surroundings
Spirituality can lead to people finding unity with their surroundings. As a result, individuals are aware of and appreciate their physical environment. Furthermore, spiritual teachings emphasize the need for doing the right thing. They teach forgiveness, gratitude, and compassion, which help people cope with challenging situations.
- Calms a person’s mind
Spirituality can play a significant role in calming a person’s mind and giving one a positive attitude. Spirituality or religion can help reduce stress and anxiety. An example would be how religious rituals or activities can help establish structure, predictability, and consistency, which help people undergoing difficult times. These activities can help ease a person’s mind and allow one to take a step back and cope with feelings of stress and anxiety.
Research shows that individuals have better mental health if they belong to a particular community or have religious beliefs. Spirituality can help people in many ways. First and foremost, spirituality or religion can help people find meaning in their lives which is instrumental in improving one’s mental health. The fact that hospitals employ spiritual advisors to counsel patients demonstrates how essential spirituality is to people’s health and wellbeing.
About the Author: Amelia is part of the content team at The Long Reach and works for various international brands. When Amelia is not researching and writing, she loves nothing more than heading out to the country for some downtime.
Photo by Jeremy Perkins on Unsplash
The opinions and views expressed in any guest blog post do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in the article or linked to therein. Guest Authors may have affiliations to products mentioned or linked to in their author bios only.
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