Spirituality and health

Spirituality refers to an individual’s search for meaning and purpose in life. 

It is the way people seek and experience ultimate meaning, purpose, and transcendence.

Spirituality is central to health as well as the personal, interpersonal, or transcendent beliefs and values.

WHO defines health as a state of physical, mental, spiritual and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

The spiritual dimension plays a great role in motivating people’s achievements in all aspects of life.

The spiritual dimension implies a phenomenon that is not material in nature, but relates to ideas, beliefs, values and ethics that have arisen in the minds and conscience of human beings, particularly ennobling ideas. 

Ennobling ideas have given rise to health ideals.

Health ideals aim at attaining a goal that has both a material and non-material component: material component of the strategy can be provided to people, the spiritual component is something that has to arise within people and communities in line with their social and cultural patterns. 

The spiritual dimension is essential in motivating people’s achievement in all aspects of life.

While spirituality encompasses beliefs and practices of religious communities, it extends beyond religion to include meaning, purpose and transcendence and can arise through a vocation, family or nature, so that any individual may experience spirituality.

There is a link between improved health and spirituality.

It is a requisite component of person centered care.

Spirituality is distinct from organized religion: it does not necessarily need a religious framework. 

Spirituality is dynamic and an intrinsic aspect of humanity to which individuals seek ultimate meeting, purpose and trandescence and experience relationships to self, family, others, community and society.

Some studies indicate that religiosity appears to positively correlate with physical health.

Mortality rates are lower among people who frequently attend religious events and consider themselves both religious and spiritual.

Almost all studies involved in the effect of religion on a person’s physical health have revealed it has a positive addition  to their lifestyle: among all ages, genders and religions. 

Religion provides physical health benefits indirectly: Church attendees present with lower rates of alcohol consumption and improvement in mood, which is associated with better physical health.

Religion may reduce likelihood of certain diseases: against cardiovascular disease by reducing blood pressure, and also improves immune system functioning.

Reigious emotions, such as humility, forgiveness, and gratitude confer health benefits.

Attendance at religious services is associated with lower levels of multiple risk factors for ill health and mortality and with lower prevalence and incidence of illness and mortality. 

A study of over five thousand Americans found those attending religious services more than weekly have half the mortality of those never attending after adjusting for multiple variables: increased life expectancy (Hummer) with a life expectancy at age 20 of 83 years for frequent attendees and 75 years for non-attendees. 

While observational findings of an association of religious attendance with lower mortality are compatible with a causal relationship it cannot be proved.

In a population largely holding  church membership in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, which encourages Christian vegetarianism and mandates the observance of the Sabbath, live eight to 10 years longer than the average American.

Belonging to a religious collective is associated with a strong protective effect: tend to exhibit healthier lifestyles, have a strong support system that secular people would not normally have. 

The existence of a religious struggle in elderly patients with a previously dedicated religious life, experience a 19% to 28% greater mortality due to the belief that God was supposedly punishing them or abandoning them.

Meta-analysis show that intercessory prayer, praying for someone who is sick, has no effect on producing  positive findings.

Randomized controlled trials of intercessory prayer have not yielded significant effects on health: comparing personal, focused, committed and organized intercessory prayer with those interceding holding some belief that they are praying to God or a god versus any other intervention. 

In a case-control study of 5,286 Californians over a 28-year period controlled for age, race/ethnicity, gender, education participants who went to church on a frequent basis were 36% less likely to die during that period: partly be attributed to a better lifestyle since religious people tend to drink and smoke less and eat a healthier diet.

A meta-analytical review, shows that people who are more religious and spiritual have better mental health and adapt more quickly to health problems compared to those who are less religious and spiritual.

Religious believers experience higher levels of mattering, dignity meaning in their lives: In those who prayed often, the association was stronger.

Religiosity mitigates the negative impact of income inequality and injustice on life satisfaction.

Religion has the potential to offer security and significance in life, valued  human relationships, and fosters mental health. 

It is suggested that the benefits of religion and religiosity are accounted for by the social support afforded by membership in a religious group.

Religion may provide coping skills to deal with stressors, or demands.

Religiosity is positively associated with mental disorders that involve an excessive amount of self-control and negatively associated with mental disorders that involve a lack of self-control.

Individuals assessed to have a higher spiritual quality of life on a spiritual well-being scale have less depressive symptoms: Cancer and AIDS patients who are more spiritual have lower depressive symptoms than religious patients. 

Spirituality is thought to be beneficial  because it speaks to one’s ability to intrinsically find meaning in life, strength, and inner peace, which is especially important for very ill patients.

The difficulty in forgiving God and alienation from God are associated with higher levels of depression and anxiety. 

Forgiving God for a specific, unfortunate incident in those who believe in God, predict for lower levels of anxious and depressed mood.

There are beneficial effects of spirituality on the lives of patients with schizophrenia, major depression, and other psychotic disorders.

Schizophrenic patients are less likely to be re-hospitalized if they participate in religious practice.

Depressed individuals who undergo religiously based interventions, improved their symptoms faster than those who undergo secular interventions. 

Cross-sectional studies have shown that more religiously involved people had fewer instances of psychosis.

For individuals scoring low and moderately on religiosity, thinking about the meaning of life is negatively correlated with life satisfaction: conversely, people scoring highly on religiosity, have a positive relationship.

People commonly cope with trauma is through the comfort found in religious or spiritual practices.

People who use positive religious coping seek spiritual support and look for meaning in a traumatic situation. 

Other with negative religious coping express conflict, question, and doubt regarding issues of God and faith.

People use religious coping for fear-inflicting events of death and sickness, and near death experiences. 

People also use religious coping to deal with everyday stressors and life-changing traumas.

Religion stimulates reinterpretations of negative events through the religious  lens.

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