Regardless of whether you rely on meditation, yoga, or religion, caring for your soul is an important part of taking care of yourself that can improve physical and mental health along the way.
Spirituality and religion can mean something different to everyone. Some feel a connection to something larger than themselves, while others find the ideas of an organized religion personally important.
What benefits can you get from being spiritual or religious?
- One study found that people who attended religious services monthly showed a 22% lower risk of depression
- U.S. military veterans who identified themselves as being highly religious or spiritual showed high levels of gratitude, purpose in life, and post-traumatic growth, and lower risk of depression, suicidal thinking, and alcohol abuse than their lesser or non-spiritual/religious peers
- In a study of people receiving treatment at a mental health facility, more than 80% used religious beliefs or activities to cope with daily difficulties or frustrations. 65% reported that religion helped them cope with symptom severity, and 30% indicated that religion gave them purpose to keep living
Faith communities can also provide social connections and
supports to individuals and those who care for them. As discussed previously,
social connections and support systems can make a world of difference if
someone is dealing with a chronic illness or struggling with some part of their
Balbuena, L., Baetz, M., & Bowen, R. (2013). Religious attendance, spirituality, and major depression in Canada: a 14-year follow-up study. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. 58(4): 225-232.
Sharma, V. et al. (2017). Religion, spirituality, and mental health of U.S. military veterans: Results from the National Health and Resilience in Veterans study. Journal of Affective Disorders. 217:197-204.
Tepper, L., Rogers, S., Coleman, E. & Malony H.N. (2001). The prevalence of religious coping among persons with persistent mental illness. Psychiatric Services. 52(5):660-665. gesize – 15