Your mental health is paramount as it is responsible for dictating how you think, feel, and behave. As a state of your social, psychological, and emotional well-being, it plays a crucial role in every stage of your life. It helps you make the most of your potential, cope with various stresses life throws at you, and makes you a contributing member of your community.
According to a study published in Current Opinion on Psychiatry, researchers found a link between spirituality and mental health. They discovered spiritual beliefs help improve your mental well-being.
Spirituality – What is it?
Before jumping into why spirituality is beneficial for you, it is essential to understand this term. It is challenging to describe this accurately, as this is a broad concept. For instance, some people find it by following a secular community, in nature, and in art. Others discover it through meditation, prayers, and religion. The beauty of spirituality is it has a different meaning to different people.
In a broader sense, it is a belief that there exists something larger than you, along with a deep connection with the world and the universe. You discover the meaning of life and several truths about yourself. It suggests there is more to life than what you experience through your senses. Spirituality transcends culture and creed as anyone and everyone can experience it.
It shows you the true power of characteristics such as hope, faith, love, compassion, tolerance, detachment, and honesty.
How can spirituality improve your mental health?
What is the link between spirituality and your mental health? According to this study, researchers discovered a decrease in depression, anxiety, and stress among participants. It provides the tools necessary to help you in every aspect of your life. Let’s take a deeper dive to understand how spirituality will help improve your mental health:
Find your purpose in life
Anxiety, a mental illness, manifests in many forms, affecting your emotional, physical, and social well-being. Over time, anxiety increases the amount of stress you deal with in your life. For instance, you may start to question all the decisions you make, whether they are the right ones. Although it is normal to think about what you’re doing, overthinking does more harm than good.
It can have a snowball effect on your negative thoughts, eventually making you question your purpose in life. Also, as the pandemic is allowing you to spend more time with yourself, the situation doesn’t get any better.
With proper spiritual practices such as yoga, meditation, and prayer, you can not only find answers to your questions but also come out stronger than before. You discover your spiritual purpose in life, which doesn’t have any connections with the material world.
It helps establish beliefs, principles, and values, giving meaning to your life. At the same time, you won’t doubt yourself a thousand times when you have to make a decision. The values imbibe through spiritual practices will become your guide.
For example, you’ll discover all the things that will comfort you when things aren’t going well in your life. It will teach you where to look when you need a sense of hope.
The journey to finding your purpose in life is unique to you. Some people find it comforting to surround themselves with spiritual practices or maintain a journal. Others find solace being with people interested in spirituality.
Help overcome Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD is a mental illness that arises due to a traumatic experience like war, sexual abuse, terrorism, accidents, and disasters. These experiences cause significant stress, making it challenging to lead your life normally.
During times of crisis, spirituality can offer immense help mentally. For instance, it can provide you with the strength you need to get through the trauma in one piece. You may find it helpful if you meditate and chant a spiritual phrase. By repeating these words regularly, it can help alleviate the stress that comes with this mental illness. It can also bring down anxiety, which will improve your quality of sleep.
Spiritual beliefs and practices make you open-minded. As a result, it becomes easier to recover after a traumatic experience. By spending time with yourself and being mindful of your actions, you discover new things about yourself. This change in mindset will help you grow as an individual, allowing you to cope and strengthen your mental health.
Prevent the feeling of isolation
Another significant downside of the pandemic is the inability to spend time outdoors. If you can go out, it can only be for a short duration. As you can’t have too many close interactions with your friends and family, you tend to feel isolated and lonely.
Also, social anxiety can make it challenging to connect with others, making matters worse. Spirituality helps overcome this issue as you start to seek for positive solutions to find solace for your mind.
Rather than resorting to consuming alcohol and drugs for answers, you start to look for places where you can share your thoughts. Churches, mosques, synagogues, and temples might be some places you might find to be helpful in this quest. Spiritual leaders in these places of worship are often excellent sources for support.
You may also find it easier to share your spiritual beliefs with your family or by going on long walks in nature with your close friends. In other words, you find a support group that becomes an invaluable source for companionship and helps strengthen your social networks.
Also, it gives you a sense of belonging, boosting your self-esteem in the long run. By being with a group of people who think along similar lines, they help you get through times of adversity.
Ward off signs of depression
A common mental illness people suffer from is depression. Depending on the severity, its symptoms manifest in different ways. Lack of appetite for company, food, or sex, frequent bouts of misery, inexplicable fatigue, and feeling even small tasks are impossible are some symptoms.
You tend to feel hopeless, which can affect your quality of life in the long run. It can bring down your self-esteem. You will find it challenging to cope with the difficulties you face in life.
It can also make you question things that helped you find solace in the past. You start to doubt yourself, making matters worse. Spirituality helps you find a different perspective on life. Even if you’ve seen the same thing a million times, it helps you find details you missed earlier.
Spirituality offers solutions for all the suffering you face due to this mental illness. As it gives you faith in yourself, you start to believe and hope. As highlighted earlier, spirituality helps you find new meaning in your life. Studies also indicate the same – people who discover the same by being spiritual don’t experience severe depressive symptoms.
Studies have shown the positive effects of spirituality on depression. The severity of this mental illness’s symptoms, along with cognitive distortions and feelings of hopelessness, is lower among those who are spiritual.
While spirituality can help find answers, you must remember it isn’t a way to run away from your problems. In fact, it is the opposite as it helps you face your current situation and overcome it.
It is clear spirituality has a significant role to play when it comes to mental health. Not only does it strengthen your ability to handle everything you face in life, but you also find tools to cope with the stress. When facing immense challenges, believing in a higher power can be of considerable help. You realize you’re no longer alone, and there is always someone ready to listen to what you are going through in your life.
This way of coping with your problems is beneficial to your mental health. How you interpret the world determines what meanings specific experiences and events have on your life. Understanding what is within your control and doing the best can improve your mental health.
Ultimately, you have the power to change your life for the better. It is in your nature to seek things that are deeper, bigger, and greater than yourself. Regardless of how you approach spirituality, the foundation of its practices remains the same. Transcendence, learning the meaning of life, and a holistic approach are common pillars in all spiritual beliefs.
There is a reason more people are turning towards spirituality every day. Everyone is starting to realize there is more to life than chasing materialistic needs. There will come a point in your life when you question everything going on around you. With spirituality, you ensure you have the tools to find all the answers you need to make your life fulfilling and wholesome. It not only makes you happier as an individual, but you also discover deeper connections with everyone around you. Spirituality gives you the strength to accept your reality while also helping you realize your inner strength. Rather than falling victims to mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression, you understand your true value. At the same time, it helps you accept people irrespective of their spiritual and religious beliefs.