How Spirituality Keeps You Well
~ by Dr. Ranit Mishori
Planning on going to church this holiday season? That should be good for the spirit, of course – and perhaps also for the body. According to a study in Annals of Epidemiology (the branch of medical science dealing with the transmission and control of disease), people who attend religious services tend to be healthier than the rest of us. More specifically, weekly churchgoers have a lower risk of death than those who never set foot inside a place of worship.
The report came out earlier this year, but it’s only the latest in a series of studies exploring the link between health and spirituality. This research has found that prayer and meditation seem to be associated with improved immune systems and fewer episodes of chronic inflammation.
Not surprisingly, the benefits extend to mental health as well. People who identify themselves as more religious reveal lower rates of depression. A study reported in September by the Journal of Affective Disorders showed lower suicide rates among people who regularly attend religious services.
So is church a healing place? While some faithful may believe it is, scientists point out that religious people often take better care of themselves. Studies show that regular churchgoers are also people who don’t smoke, drink rarely, and see their doctors regularly. More important, people who make church a habit – and the same goes for people who worship at mosques and synagogues – are more socially integrated, which means they have more friends and acquaintances and a better support system to help them cope with stressful life events.
Many researchers also believe that at bottom there seems to be a strong connection between the mind, the spirit, and the body. Improve one, and you have an effect on the other. Praying, meditating, or attending religious services may not cure a disease, but those activities may make you feel better and contribute to a more positive outlook on life.
Received permission from my brother Jay Osmond - Thanks Jay!