What is spirituality?
While it is difficult to define spirituality because the term has different meanings for different people, one common theme is that spirituality increases awareness of your inner self on all levels and establishes a sense of universal interconnectedness.
What are the benefits of spirituality?
Those who have a spiritual practice regularly integrated into their lives are reported to have better mental health than those who do not. Studies have shown that regardless of faith, those who engage in regular spiritual practice show lower levels of nueroticism and stress as well as higher levels of extraversion. It is also reported that spirituality benefits overall health. Researchers have found that there is a link between spirituality and healing. According to a study conducted on 126,000 participants, those who engaged in weekly spiritual practices visited doctors less often. Those who were spiritual were less likely to become ill and had quicker illness recovery time (ranging from colds to severe physical/mental illnesses). Studies have also shown that spirituality protects the brain from depression.
Why is there a link between spirituality and health?
Religion and faith provide a social support system that one can participate in by giving to the community and receiving from the community. Being involved in a religious community can relieve stress because members know they have people who can support and encourage them. The social support system is strengthened by sharing common beliefs, which promotes bonding with others in the spiritual community. Lower stress levels, positive affirmation, and a sense of belongingness all contribute to better overall health, both physically and mentally.
How do I develop a spiritual practice?
Although religion is often what comes to mind when one thinks of spirituality, it does not mean that spirituality is strictly religion-oriented. Aside from being active in a religious community, you can practice secular spiritual activities that allow you to consciously connect with your inner self. You can develop a spiritual practice by incorporating mindfulness of your thoughts and actions. You can do this by meditating or reflecting on your day by keeping a journal. Also, exploring and learning new things can help you develop your personal spirituality because it increases your self-awareness. Self-awareness is important because it can help you identify positive and negative aspects of your personal life that need improvement. When you are able find an outlet to eliminate the negative aspects through spiritual practice, you can achieve higher sense of inner peace.
Borchard, T. (2010). Spirituality and Prayer Relieve Stress. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 18, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2010/03/21/spirituality-and-prayer-relieve-stress/
Pedersen, T. (2014). How Spirituality Protects the Brain Against Depression.Psych Central. Retrieved on February 20, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/news/2014/01/19/how-spirituality-protects-the-brain-against-depression/64698.html
Tartakovsky, M. (2014). 3 Ways to Develop a Spiritual Practice. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 18, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2014/06/19/3-ways-to-develop-a-spiritual-practice/
Wood, J. (2012). Spirituality Linked to Better Mental Health. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 20, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/news/2012/08/21/spirituality-linked-to-better-mental-health/43427.html