Things You Can Do to Be a healthy, joyful and Happier Person
You don’t need to live your life in sadness and pain
- June 25th, 2016
- General Health Care
- health and happeness, health and wealty, healthy lifestyle, healthyeating, nutritionfacts food
Prayer and spirituality can help ease depression and act as a cushion when life throws curve balls your way.Saying a small prayer to get through a difficult time is not unusual. A plea for help from a higher power is one way people seek and find the benefits of spirituality. But a connection to something greater than yourself offers more than just hope — it strengthens emotional health, too.There are challenges to studying the impact of prayer, notes psychologistCrystal Park. PhD, a psychology professor at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. For example, people who pray often and are active with their faith communities might be making generally healthier decisions, such as taking fewer risks or avoiding smoking and drinking.
“That peace, that sense of meaning and connection that happens with prayer is what is positive," Park says. "Those kinds of things have physiological effects on the body, such as calming your cardiovascular system and reducing your stress."
There are several ways in which a regular spiritual practice may improve or protect your emotional health. It can:
Offer a bigger sense of purpose. A connection to a greater power or truth can give you a sense of purpose and meaning beyond the day-to-day, Park says.
Provide social support. Through practicing your spirituality, you may become involved with a community of like-minded people. An August 2015 review of 78 studies by Park and other researchers published in Cancer found that patients who reported a strong religious or spiritual life
- also maintained richer social connections.
Another example of the effect of social support with a spiritual connection comes from a study of older adults in Thailand. Those with active Buddhist networks were found to have better daily functioning, according to the study published in 2014 in Geriatrics &Gerontology Intewnational.
Lift the spirit. Activities related to your spiritual practice or community involvement, such as singing and music, may also have positive effects on emotional health. Participating in a choir offers a support system and may reduce anxiety and depression among cancer survivors and their caregivers, according to study published in 2012 in the journal Ecanermedicalscience.
The Health Benefits of Prayer Are Real
Researchers have linked regular spiritual practics with various health benefits, including preventing depression. For example:
- A September 2015 report published in Health Psychology found that when researchers followed 191 people with congestive heart failure for five years, they found that those who reported feeling spiritual peace — and who also made some healthy lifestyle changes — were significantly more likely to live longer than their peers.
People with major depressive disorder or chronic medical illness who report high levels of religiosity, which includes daily religious experiences, generally become more optimistic than their peers, found a study published in July 2015 in Depression and anxiety.