You betcha! It is well known that spirituality/religiosity, for both mental and physical health, can be quite healthy. Of course, there are always a few who over-do it but for the most part, exploring your spirituality is a great thing to do, even if you identify as an atheist. Remember, it is widely accepted that we are hard-wired genetically for spirituality.
Looking at the background of religion, medicine, and healthcare, these areas have traditionally been related in some way since the beginning of time. Only recently has there been a separation, and since that time, we have seen many adverse events occur.
A few examples, please! Studies have shown that spirituality (which will include religiosity) helps people cope with adversity, including illness or other stressful situations. We must deal with our physical illnesses mentally, so spirituality helps in both areas.
Well-being/happiness is another area positively correlating with spirituality. A whopping 79% of studies conducted around this theme found significant positive associations. This included having hope, being optimistic, finding meaning and purpose in life, good self-esteem and control, and more. Depression and anxiety are likewise positively impacted.
There are also positive correlates with physiological issues. Statistics say the more you have spirituality, the less you smoke cigarettes. This same type of relationship is found with exercising and diet. The funny thing is, the more spiritual you are, the healthier your diet…but also, the more you eat! (This introduces a harmful element. More study is needed.) There is even a relationship between spirituality and coronary heart disease – the more spirituality you have, the better your heart related outcomes are.
If you experience a lot of stress and depression, how you handle it is key to developing Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. The changes in blood cortisol especially have an adverse effect on memory. Not taking care of negative emotions puts you at higher risk for dementia. Finally, spirituality is positively correlated with better immune function.
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Dr. Donna Poppendieck (Dr. P) has over 30 years of experience in the mental health care field. She is a seasoned college professor and instructor for providers. She uses credible, proven holistic health strategies in instruction for parents of children with mental health challenges looking for another approach as well as healthcare providers seeking to implement or understand holistic strategies.