Tibetan Prayer Flags

The company of and camaraderie with other churchgoers leave the church member filled with elation and spiritual strength. Yet recent studies suggest that such spirituality, not just religion, is also beneficial for your physical health and wellbeing. “Religion helps regulate behavior and health habits, while spirituality regulates your emotions, how you feel.” stated Carolyn Aldwin, a gerontology professor in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at Oregon State University.

The study suggests that religious affiliation and attendance at a church are positively correlated with regulated healthy behaviors, such as abstinence from smoking and reduced drinking, both of which can increase potential for serious health risks.  However, the study goes on to show that activities like prayer, private meditation, and other spiritual rituals are better suited to maintain emotions and, as a result, lower blood pressure.

Dr. Harold G. Koenig, the co-director at the Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health at Duke  University Medical Center believes people benefit from devout religious practice. “In general, they cope with stress better, they experience greater well-being because they have more hope, they’re more optimistic, they experience less depression, less anxiety and live longer. Scripture promises that all things work together for good for those who love and serve God.” Koenig’s study found that people who attended services at least once a week were less likely to die during the six-year study than people who attended less often. Even when the study factored in such events such as age, race, and general health there was still a 28% reduction in mortality.

So, keep your faith.  Attend services and pray often. Extend your gratitude and appreciate the health benefits from religious and spiritual practices. Comfort and socialize with your friends at church. Attend church social functions and receive all of the spiritual and health benefits from doing so. It is the perfect combination for healing and for the unburdening of emotional stress. The positive experience of faith is the key to living a content and intrinsically rewarding life.

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