Sally Writes – The division between Eastern and Western approaches to health has finally been brought down in a dramatic fashion over the past decade. With numerous studies in prestigious universities coming to the conclusion that an integrated approach to health should be recommended to help cope with various diseases – everything from depression to recovery from breast cancer, anxiety, and heart disease – science has finally revealed that mind, body, and spirit, are part and parcel of happiness and both physical and mental health. In this post, we highlight the ways in which leading a more spiritual life, one that is more tune with universal vital energies, can help us lead healthier, happier lives.

The Effects of Spirituality on Anxiety, Depression, and Serious Mental Illness

Much research on the effect of spirituality on mental illness has centred on Eastern millenary practises such as yoga, mindfulness meditation, and Tai Chi. Studies have been conclusive: the common element that runs through these activities (mindfulness/the ability to keep the mind in the present moment), has measurable effects on mental health.

Primarily, mindfulness based activities have a significant effect on cortisol – a stress hormone which, when present at high levels, can lead to a plethora of mental conditions, including anxiety and depression.

Spirituality can also aid in serious conditions such as schizophrenia. Although optimal treatment choices for schizophrenia and other issues like major depression comprise medication and cognitive behavioral therapy,  lifestyle recommendations for these conditions include battling stress – an area in which spirituality can be of great help. In schizophrenia and depression, high stress levels are linked to an exacerbation of symptoms. Routine, a good night’s sleep, relaxation, and mindfulness, meanwhile, are crucial when it comes to battling symptoms from an integrated perspective.

Spirituality and General Mental Wellbeing

Spirituality is not just for those battling mental conditions. Recent studies have shown that people who take part spiritual pursuits are more likely to be happier and to feel supported. One of the activities that most guarantees sustained happiness, it seems, is religion (which is just one branch of spirituality).

Scientists postulate that the reasons for the powerful effects of spirituality are twofold. Firstly, it enables us to build friendships and other important relationships that sustain us when times are tough.  Secondly, spirituality (feeling like there is a powerful energy that runs through the universe as well as all human beings) can help human beings face difficult times with greater resilience.

Because human beings are made up of energy as much as of matter, to function at an optimal level mentally, it is vital to recognize the importance that spirituality has in our lives. By researching into universal energies, taking part in mindfulness-based activities, or taking part in worship or other spiritual pursuits, we can avail of better mental health as well as generally improved happiness.

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