Primary Author: Sabrina Hossain | Secondary Author: Molly Christenson NP Psychiatry
My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.
We have discussed some of the negative outcomes of religious trauma and the toll it takes on our mental health. But, are there any benefits associated with following a religion? It turns out that practicing religion can provide positive outcomes when these communities create an inclusive environment. Here are some benefits followers of religious experience;
All religions have rituals that help followers develop compassion, trust, and resilience.
Many religions emphasize the importance of gratitude through prayer and other practices.
“The time people spend engaged in spiritual practices like going to a church or synagogue, on average, the longer, healthier and happier their lives are.”
Rituals that help people move through and cope with grief.
Ex: Sitting shiva (Judaism), Sunni Muslims observe a three-day mourning period, cremation, burials, etc.
Praying has some psychological benefits including the reduction of stress, loneliness and fear. Like many rituals, it has a calming effect and fosters a sense of connection.
Can reduce anger and aggression.
We all need routines to have structure in our lives, and religions provide structure.
Better Health Outcomes
Many individuals take better care of their bodies by abstaining from drinking, prioritizing meditation, or not partaking in activities that have negative consequences on the body.
Religion provides structure, community, and better health outcomes. Due to most religions encouraging followers to take care of their health, followers are more likely to live longer and healthier lives. Many religions also provide rituals that help support psychological and physical health like praying, fasting, and abstaining from drugs.
While we cannot prove the physical existence of God/gods, we know that religion provides a sense of meaning and hope for followers. There is also a considerable amount of overlap between psychology and religion which may explain all the benefits associated with practicing a religion. Whether you decide to follow one or not, there may be some practices you can adopt for your spiritual and mental health.