The history of the connection between spirituality and mental health goes long back. In many movies, you might have seen how religious institutions are sometimes sought to help take care of the ill. It’s not just the movies. Even science and numerous studies prove that.
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have concluded that religion and spirituality can play a vital role in faster recovery and longevity. Similarly, some studies prove the role of religious upbringing in well-being.
There are several ways to connect with the religious and spiritual aspects to leverage all these health benefits. For instance, you can merely read your community’s spiritual news to be related to religion. Suppose you are a Christian. You can read Christianity news online.
But the thing is that religion and spirituality are not all pluses. They can act as two-edged swords that can have both positive and negative impacts on your mental health. In this post, we will be touching both sides of the coin and finding out what role religion and spirituality play in mental health well-being.
Mental health benefits of religion and spirituality
Religion and spirituality bring a sense of purpose in life. It gives people a vision to get salvation and find their inner-self and God. They also start meditating and focusing more on the goal. While these are the direct benefits, there are also some indirect benefits. Here are some primary mental health benefits of religion and spirituality.
Religious communities provide a safe social environment where everyone can communicate with others. It offers an opportunity to become a part of a larger group. This gives the believers a sense of belief. They also get a platform where they can connect with others and share their happiness and difficulties.
Religious and spiritual places also provide help for people to cope up with the most challenging life situations. They also offer valuable teachings such as gratitude, forgiveness, and the difference between good and bad. These teachings can help integrate the values of doing the right in people.
Various substances have severe impacts on mental health. They can hamper the daily functioning of the brain by triggering depressants and disruptions. These disruptions can affect the thought process, which can change a person’s feelings and emotional state. They may also create an imbalance in the brain and lead to aggression, anger, anxiety, and stress.
Drugs are also linked to lowering serotonin levels in the brain. With reduced serotonin, a person may experience mood swings and other psychiatric illnesses like PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).
Religion and spirituality are strong opponents of substance abuse. They also guide people who need help to become free of addiction. It does not come as a surprise that numerous studies and surveys find that more religious people are less addicted to substance abuse.
Peace of mind
It is a well-known fact that meditation and focus can significantly improve mental health. With benefits ranging from reduced stress and anxiety to increased emotional health and self-awareness, meditation can help boost mental health.
Both religion and spirituality promote meditation to connect with the almighty power. If not more, even going to a spiritual place and worshiping can help a person get all those benefits. For instance, closing the eyes and enchanting prayers can help attain peace of mind.
The other side of the story
The benefits sound very tempting, but as said earlier, there’s another part of exploring as well. While religion and spirituality give many mental health benefits, there are also chances of adverse effects. Here are some ways that religion and spirituality can impact mental health.
While the cases of discrimination based on age, gender, race, and disability are common, there are chances that religion can cause it too. For instance, a person might not communicate with someone else who is not following their faith. Reversely, there ate also possibilities that a group of people might isolate a person who sounds too religious.
Such discrimination and isolation can lead to stress and anxiety. Thus, on the one hand, religion can bring a person close to a group of people and increase social interactivity. However, on the other hand, it can also lead to discrimination and complete isolation, harming mental health.
If a person becomes overly excessive and starts believing in religion and spirituality wrongly, it can lead to depressions and even suicide. For instance, someone might consider medical problems as a way of punishment from God. Such thoughts can degrade the quality of life and increase depression.
Thus, religion and spirituality can be both good and bad for mental health. The results depend on how a person believes in it. If he takes it in the right way, it can significantly boost mental health and even recovery. But if the person takes it inappropriately, it can further degrade the mental condition.