By: Stan Popovich
Religion and spirituality used to be completely separate from the field of mental health, due to many misconceptions about the impact that religion has on mental health. In recent years, views have changed to embrace religion and spirituality, as these beliefs have been shown to have a particularly substantial positive influence on mental health.
It can be incredibly challenging to live with a mental illness, whether you experience depression, fear, anxiety, or another mental health concern. Embracing religion and spirituality has helped to provide a variety of benefits when it comes to dealing with mental health concerns. In fact, Christianity and mental illness tend to have an inverse relationship, as those who follow Christianity often experience lower rates of mental illness.
The Power of Prayer
Prayer is a powerful tool in coping with mental health problems, such as depression or anxiety. Praying helps to provide you with a sense of hope and reminds you of what is important in your life. In fact, Christian mental health is often more effectively coped with, as prayer is easily accessible. Prayer can be done from anywhere, which can substantially help to provide you with support through difficult times and challenging events. Praying helps you to tap into the power of God and find comfort, guidance, and help through tough situations. Christianity and mental illness aren’t uncommon, but there are certainly more coping mechanisms available for those who embrace their religion, which goes a long way toward improving mental health.
Religion Helps you to Obtain Balance
Balance is an incredibly important component of life. There are many different aspects and factors that you are expected to maintain an effective balance between. You will need to balance your social interactions, family life, work, hobbies, and many other aspects. Religion helps to emphasize and encourage the best possible balance between every factor of your life, which ensures that you focus on the most important things.
Spirituality and Religion Help to Provide Guidance
Religions, like Christianity, provide tools that give individuals guidance through difficult times. When an individual experiences fear, anxiety, depression, or another mental illness, they may benefit from consulting the Bible for guidance. God and mental health go hand-in-hand, providing an overwhelmingly positive correlation. Those who develop a deep, meaningful relationship with God tend to have fewer mental health concerns. In fact, Christian mental health has been shown to have lower depression rates, as well as a reduced likelihood of substance abuse.
Religion and Spirituality are a Valuable Tool
The SAMHSA has done a great deal of research regarding how religion and spirituality impact mental health. They have stated that spirituality and religion are incredibly valuable tools in promoting mental wellness. In fact, both religion and spirituality have been shown to improve physical health in many different situations, which is likely due to the positive mental impact that these lifestyles provide.
Not only are religion and spirituality valuable in and of themselves, but they also emphasize the development of many valuable coping skills and mechanisms. In addition, religion often emphasizes values such as hope and forgiveness, which can substantially reduce feelings of depression and anxiety. Studies have shown that individuals that identify as religious or spiritual are significantly less likely to report the development of psychiatric conditions.
Religion Develops Essential Skills
Participating in a religion helps to develop a multitude of beneficial skills. Those who wholeheartedly embrace a religion often show enhanced skills regarding forgiveness and acceptance. They also tend to experience greater emotions of gratitude, hope, and love. All of these emotions can combat some of the feelings consistent with mental illness.
Social Interaction Lowers the Likelihood of Mental Health Issues
Social interaction is often a large contributing factor when it comes to mental health. Regular, positive social interaction substantially lowers the likelihood of mental health issues developing. Participating in religion provides regular social interaction with a group of positive, like-minded individuals. It tends to promote a sense of belonging, which goes a long way toward reducing the likelihood of depression. Religion helps to provide structure and routine, which helps to minimize anxiety. Religious interaction also provides individuals with strong support networks to help you through challenges, particularly when it comes to your mental health.
Religious Practices Provide More Resources
Many religions are involved in substantial amounts of charitable efforts. In addition, many religions offer support and assistance to their members. Participating in religion is able to help ensure that individuals have access to more mental health resources.
Religion and Spirituality Provide a Sense of Meaning
Many people who have depression feel as though their life has no meaning. Religion often helps to provide people with a sense of meaning. It also helps to provide a connection and focus between an individual and their deepest values. Spirituality and religion help to provide comfort and helps aid with mental health concerns.
Decreased Suicide Rates are Associated with Religion
The vast majority of religions have negative associations when it comes to suicide. In addition, religions provide a high level of support and comfort to members, as well as a sense of meaning. All of these in combination result in decreased suicide rates among members of a religion.
Religion has been shown to Lower Stress
Religion tends to focus on the generation of feelings of peace, purpose, and forgiveness. The generation of all of these emotions helps to lower stress levels. Not only do high-stress levels damage mental health, but they can also have a significant negative impact on physical health. Reducing levels of stress can go a long way toward improving both physical and mental health.
Reduce the Likelihood of Substance Abuse
Many religions actively discourage the use of addictive substances, including alcohol and drugs. When individuals don’t ever use these substances in the first place, they are unlikely to become addicted to them. For this reason, those who identify as religious or spiritual tend to have lower substance abuse rates than those that don’t claim any religion.
Rumors aren’t always true. For a long time, people believed that religion, in general, had an overwhelmingly negative impact on mental health. For this reason, discussions regarding religion and mental health were often kept strictly separate. Recently, beliefs have changed and adapted to show that a relationship with God can provide a multitude of benefits to mental health.
Following these beliefs is able to serve as a valuable tool in dealing with mental health issues. If you or a loved one is experiencing mental health concerns, it can be particularly beneficial to embrace Christianity or religion to help cope with your mental illness.
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