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The Vital Link between Spirituality and Mental Health



The Vital Link between Spirituality and Mental Health

If you have experienced the presence of paranormal activity in your own home or surroundings, then despite possibly having mixed feelings about the experience, you no doubt felt fascinated by the fact that spirituality can be sensed, felt, or heard; that it is far merely being the stuff of legend, art, or cinema.

Your experience with a spirit may have led you to a more introspective state, in which you wondered about the role you play in the larger scheme of things, and your relationship to other human beings. If you have become in tune with your inner thoughts and feelings, rest assured that you are boosting your mental health in a way that science has only recently come to discover. In this post, we highlight the ways in which spirituality can promote happiness, and vice-versa.

Recent Findings on the Importance of Spirituality

As far back as the late 1920s, academics such as Carl Jung reminded us that we are made of spirit as well as flesh; that so long as we continued to deny the need for spirituality in our lives, we would be doomed to a painful sense of isolation and ‘smallness’ in a largely massified world.

New studies have backed Jung’s assertions. One body of research, carried out by researchers at the London School of Economics, found that taking part in a religious organization was the only activity associated with sustained happiness – even more than volunteering for charity, for instance.

Other studies have found that simply taking part in spiritual/mindful activities such as meditation or yoga, reduces symptoms of depression, anxiety, and PTSD.

Interestingly, spirituality can also be useful for those with severe mental disorders, including major depression and schizophrenia. Currently, choice treatments for schizophrenia include medication and cognitive behavioral therapy, but researchers are also noting the importance that lifestyle choices can make. Schizophrenia is characterized by mood swings, difficulty communicating, and hallucinations, yet taking part in pastimes that reduce stress (through spiritual activities such as yoga and meditation) can help patients face the challenges posed by this disorder.

Why is Spirituality so Powerful?

Spirituality can help us regardless of the severity of the mental condition we are battling, for many reasons. Firstly, it gives us hope that there is a greater force at play that we may not be able to understand, but which is guiding our lives. Secondly, religion and spirituality allow us to meet like-minded individuals, who can come to be an important source of support in our lives. Finally, religious activities (e.g. prayer) and spiritual ones, such as yoga or meditation can keep our mind ‘in the here and now’ – an important pillar of battling stress, anxiety, and depression.

Mental Health for Spirituality

Of course, the relationship between these two concepts is cyclical. That is, the more stable and happy we feel, the more likely we are to be in the right frame of mind to take part in activities that can enrich our self-awareness and our sense of connection to other beings. Because of the delicate link between mental health and spirituality, it is important to work hard to foster both in our daily lives, by making the right lifestyle choices. A sound diet, regular exercise, and mindfulness practise or worship can help us feel more optimistic and whole.

Science has gone a long way towards explaining the pull that spirituality (and indeed spiritualism) has for so many of us. By helping us feel happier, face stress with dignity, and connect us to other people, it has become as valid a need as having food, shelter, and company. Therefore, it is vital to find ways to enrich our lives beyond the material.

 

By  Sally Keys






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