Hopeless? How's Your Spiritual Practice?
Sometimes I wonder at the deeper things in life. We have so much surrounding us (information, technology, social media, news, updates, emails, calendar reminders) that we often only see the surface of things. When we spend time reading and making statements in 280 characters or less, we can lose sight of the things that motivate and move us. We can lose sight of the spiritual side of life, and before we know it we aren't participating in any spiritual practices at all.
The thing is, is that spiritual practices and faith can have a significant impact on our mental health. Countless studies have shown that when we engage in spiritual practices, and have a strong faith, we often experience better mental health outcomes, including reduced symptoms of anxiety, depression, and stress. So, as a therapist and a Christian, that speaks volumes to me on the importance of a faith filled spiritual life.
Here are some ways in which spiritual practices and faith can impact mental health:
Coping with Stress: Spiritual practices can provide individuals with coping mechanisms to deal with stress. For example, meditation and prayer can help to reduce stress and anxiety by promoting a sense of calm and relaxation. Contemplative prayer can help us know we are heard and that can give us a peace that surpasses all understanding.
Sense of Purpose: Faith and spirituality can provide individuals with a sense of purpose and meaning in life. This can help to reduce feelings of hopelessness and increase feelings of motivation and fulfillment. We can find hope for the hopeless.
Social Support: Spiritual communities can provide individuals with social support and a sense of belonging. This can help to reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness, which are risk factors for depression and anxiety. We shouldn't forsake meeting together...it brings life to us.
Forgiveness: Spiritual practices often emphasize forgiveness, which can be a powerful tool for improving mental health. Forgiveness can help individuals to let go of resentment and anger, which can reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. We shouldn't let any sun go down on our wrath.
Gratitude: Spiritual practices also often emphasize gratitude, which can improve mental health outcomes. Gratitude has been linked to increased happiness and well-being and can help individuals to focus on the positive aspects of life. Can we rejoice and be glad in this day?
Compassion: Many spiritual practices emphasize compassion and kindness towards others. This can help individuals to feel more connected to others, and to experience a sense of purpose and meaning in life. It's not all meaningless if we, in our faith, reach out to our fellow man.
In conclusion, spiritual practices and faith have a positive impact on mental health, and if we can't understand a suffering we are experiencing, our faith can still help us through it. By engaging daily in spiritual practices, individuals can develop coping mechanisms for their stresses, find a sense of purpose and meaning in life outside of themselves, and build a faith family they can rely on in hard times and good.
If you or someone you know is struggling with hopelessness and meaninglessness, let's talk! You can start by filling out a contact form at www.thekingsforge.net