If you’ve ever tried to pray for a friend, you’ve probably heard about the benefits of faith. Religious belief is often credited with helping people become more emotionally stable, more optimistic and happier overall. But how does faith improve mental health? Here are some ways that religious belief can have a positive influence on your emotional well-being:
Yoga Has Been Tied to Reduced Stress
Yoga is not only about exercise, but it’s also a spiritual practice. As people go through the different flows, meditate, and relax, they find that their overall stress gets lower and lower on a daily basis. Not only that, but the other health benefits include better sleep, increased immunity, more focus, and fewer episodes of depression and anxiety. Plus, for people with ADHD, it can provide an outlet that helps them learn to focus better.
Faith and Spirituality Can Help You Overcome Addiction
Addiction is often tied to underlying mental health conditions. The 12 steps program that was created by Alcoholics Anonymous even adheres to the idea that people need a higher power to acknowledge. They recognize that this underlying belief can help people come up out of hard circumstances and addiction. People who want to be free from drugs and alcohol may look for Christian rehab services, rehab that incorporates Yoga, and even places that allow people to incorporate their Ayurvedic beliefs. These spiritual and religious beliefs are critical for many people when they want to stay clean and sober.
Having a Spiritual Community Can Help You Stay Connected
One of the issues of people with mental health conditions is that they can feel isolated. Having a faith community or a spiritual community helps people stay connected to others. Knowing that you have friends who will check up on you and who share your beliefs can make you feel less alone in the world. This is very helpful, especially for people who struggle with depression, anxiety, or PTSD.
Faith Communities Help Each Other Out
People who are spiritual or religious are more likely to help those in their faith communities when times are tough. If someone has a death in the family, these communities gather around the person who is hurting to provide tangible help with things like meals, house cleaning, and even money if it’s needed. These tangible gifts can help individuals during hard times.
Faith Can Give You a Sense of Purpose in Life
Faith in something bigger than yourself can give you a sense of purpose in life. Those who have faith often feel that they are connected to something or someone greater than themselves, and this connection inspires them to improve their own lives and the world at large. People of all kinds of faiths and spiritual practices experience similar feelings of purpose versus being non-religious or non-spiritual. Some faiths even offer opportunities to volunteer, connect with people in need, and participate in activities outside the four walls of their congregation.
Faith Can Help You Regulate Your Emotions
The ability to regulate your emotions is a critical part of mental health. When you don’t have this ability, it can lead to problems like anxiety, depression, and even anger issues. Religious faith can help you regulate your emotions by helping relieve stress. Faith helps people cope with stress better than those without religious faith. Stress causes many of the very same mental illnesses and disorders that religious faith helps overcome. Faith also encourages people to be more forgiving when they experience hurt or loss. As a result, they’re less likely to develop guilt and shame—two common feelings that contribute to poor mental health.
Faith Gives You a Sense of Optimism
Faith can help you see the positive side of things. When you believe that God or a higher power is on your side, it becomes easier to find the good in others and in yourself. This can lead to greater optimism about your future and how things will turn out for you. Faith creates a sense of hope, which can help people feel better despite negative circumstances or traumatic events. Often people in tough situations start to feel hopeless and over time these feelings of hopelessness can impact their physical and mental health.
Spiritual Practice and Faith Can Offer Tangible Solutions to Problems
Sometimes, life feels so out of control and your problems too overwhelming. Many religions offer tangible solutions. Ayurvedic spiritual practices offer herbs and medicinal options to help when people feel unwell. They also promote connection and energies that can improve mental health as well. Yoga as a spiritual practice provides people a way to get more flexible which can alleviate back pain and other physical problems.
Religion and Spirituality Encourage Gratitude
Did you know that being grateful is associated with better health and increased happiness? Gratitude is a powerful emotion, and it can help you feel more positive and connected to others. Gratitude helps people stay grounded in their lives by reminding them of what they have instead of focusing on what they don’t have. People who cultivate gratitude tend to experience increased happiness over time. They are more mindful of recognizing the small blessings in life and learn to appreciate what they have. This can help people overcome depression and anxiety because it gets the focus off of the bad and overwhelming things, and onto the good things that people have in life.
The takeaway is that faith and spirituality can be good for your mental health. Each person is so unique and might find solace and comfort in a variety of religious or spiritual practices. Daily prayers, reading religious texts, and even spending time singing songs with others all have the benefit of uplifting people’s moods so their mental health is better. This doesn’t mean that people of different faiths should avoid getting help for their mental health conditions. If you or someone you know are struggling with addiction, depression, anxiety, or PTSD, it’s okay to talk to a professional who is skilled with these conditions as well.