The Power Of Spiritual Practices On Health
Mark was exhausted and frustrated!
His declining health had led him to seek help and guidance from a number of doctors. And while he was open to trying what they suggested, they all said the same thing, “Take these prescriptions.”
He felt that nothing was helping and was ready to try anything if it would help his body heal and allow him to start living again.
When he reached out to Jordan, a Holistic Health Coach, he wasn’t sure if there was anything she could do, but he was open to finding out.
After Mark and Jordan met, Jordan could clearly see that Mark needed more than a prescription, he needed to connect within. She had seen it with previous clients! They had been struggling and ready to give up. But once they devoted time to their spiritual practice, things started to turn around.
While this was a new concept to Mark, he was willing to give it a go.
After weeks of working together and focusing on spirituality, along with healing foods, rest, and movement, Mark began feeling like himself again.
And while it would still be a long journey to healing, he knew that this whole spirituality thing had helped him to transform his health and wellness for the better.
Like Mark, many people don’t realize that spirituality can play a significant role in their health. However, at the Institute of Transformational Nutrition, we know that it’s essential for any healing of the mind, body, and spirit.
Here are various ways practicing spirituality can significantly impact your health.
THE POWER OF SPIRITUAL PRACTICES ON HEALTH
GENERAL IMPACTS ON HEALTH
When we speak of spirituality, it’s different than religion. If you’d like to read more about the difference between spirituality and religion, head here!
Practicing spirituality is associated with:
- Decreases in cigarette smoking, alcohol use, drug use, and acts of aggression.
- Increases in health maintenance behaviors, such as eating more fruits and veggies and eating breakfast.
- Lower mortality rates.
- More effective coping with terminal illnesses.
- Inner peace and lower stress.
- Increased size and strength of social groups.
This association is possibly due to decreased levels of interleukin (IL)-6, which is a messenger protein that drives chronic inflammation.
A study with 1700 older adults demonstrated that those who attended church were half as likely to have elevated levels of IL-6.
Acceptance and non-judgment – two vital ingredients of healthy weight loss – come with a deep and abiding sense of spirituality.
When individuals strive toward spiritual growth, they begin to see themselves and others as divine. As a result, they respect and care for their bodies more fully.
In addition, vibrational frequency is increased through spiritual practices, which may further stimulate weight loss.
It’s also been found that higher vibrational frequency is related to positivity, which is fundamental to weight loss. It is almost impossible to lose weight when rumination and negative thinking are the norms.
DECREASED RISK OF ILLNESS
Because religious affiliations and spiritual growth may improve coping mechanisms, social support, and values, they can significantly decrease stress levels.
Stress tends to suppress immune system function, which can leave the body susceptible to illness.
Anything that decreases stress – such as regular spiritual practices — will likely decrease the risk of illness.
COPING AND QUALITY OF LIFE
In general, people with spiritual beliefs tend to have a more positive outlook on life, more life satisfaction, increased happiness, less pain, more meaningful experiences, greater goal fulfillment, and good quality of life – even in the midst of an advanced disease.
In fact, spiritual wellbeing is associated with the ability to enjoy life despite pain. Prayer is the most common coping mechanism among those with chronic pain.
Spirituality may aid in the recovery from surgery or illness. Heart transplant patients who attended religious activities were more likely to comply with follow-up care. They also had higher self-esteem, lower anxiety, fewer health worries, and improved physical functioning 12 months after surgery.
In addition, several studies have confirmed that lower stress levels speed wound healing, so to the extent that spirituality and religiosity lower stress levels, they can facilitate healing.
DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY
Studies have found that individuals suffering from depression have found spirituality to be an extremely important depression care technique — the same goes for anxiety and all other mental health issues.
Because there are various ways to practice spirituality, anyone can find something that works best for them.
When stress is not handled with healthy coping mechanisms, it can lead to immune dysfunction and chronic inflammation.
And it is this long-lasting inflammation that is the root of chronic disease. Therefore, just as reducing stress with spiritual practices can prevent short-term illnesses, as well as long-term diseases.
Not only does spirituality help to reduce the risk of cancer, but it also helps people deal with a cancer diagnosis.
In one study that asked cancer patients how they coped with their diagnosis, a whopping 93% cited spiritual beliefs, and 42% said that they became more spiritual after their diagnosis.
Other studies have found that these spiritual beliefs do indeed decrease stress among cancer patients.
Practicing spirituality doesn’t have to be your last resort when you’re ill like it was for Mark.
Try creating a daily spiritual routine that works for you so that you can start to minimize stress, inflammation, anxiety, or depression.
Having a deep connection to something bigger than yourself is a powerful practice and transformational way to live.
You could try prayer, meditation, dancing, singing, journaling, connecting with nature, or any other practices that allow you to connect with a power greater than yourself.
How do you practice your spirituality? Tell us in the comments!