Mental Health Awareness Month 2019

Maintaining Mind-Body Balance

May 27, 2019

Spirituality & Religion

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.

Religion and spiritual activities can affect body chemistry and brain activity

FACT: Spiritual practices like meditation are linked to increased levels of feel-good chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins. FACT: Research has found that the areas of the brain associated with reward and positive feelings are activated when devout followers of a religion read scripture. FACT: Research suggests that spirituality and religion can reduce suicide rates, alcoholism, and drug use.

Being spiritual or religious can benefit your mental health

Studies have found:

  • U.S. military veterans who identified themselves as being highly religious or spiritual showed high levels of post-traumatic growth and a lower risk of depression, suicidal thinking, and alcohol abuse than their lesser or non-spiritual/religious peers
  • Individuals with a mental health disorder respond better to treatment if they are spiritual
  • Individuals connected to a religion have fewer depressive symptoms
  • Spiritual rituals activate parts in the brain that help with regulating emotions
  • Spiritual and religious beliefs related to meaning, peace, and faith were associated with reduced suicide risk and better mental health in people getting dialysis treatments.
  • Having a sense of meaning, purpose, or connection to something larger than oneself is associated with positive mental health outcomes in people receiving cancer treatment. Religion and spirituality gives individuals something to believe in. Individuals practice in a community or with individual rituals.

Ways to improve your spiritual health:

  • Identify things in your life that give you meaning and a sense of peace, comfort, strength, love and connection
  • Then, set time aside to do things you enjoy that help your spirituality
  • Try things that increase positivity in your life like; meditating, praying, volunteer work, reading inspirational work, singing devotional songs, and more!

What individuals do not realize about spirituality and religion:

  • It initiates social connections
  • Creates a sense of belonging
  • Promotes expression
  • Helps individuals with self-growth
  • Helps people cope with difficult situations
  • Provides structure
  • Helps identify both life lessons and difficult situations

Mental Health of America has created several fact sheets regarding the importance of mind-body balance on mental health.  Click on the image below for a tip sheet about spirituality & religion.

To learn more about this topic and other mental health awareness activities, visit Mental Health of America

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