Spirituality & Health

The world has seen a lot of evidence that one’s ™ spiritual nature can affect his or her mental and physical well-being. I am sure we have all heard cases where a woman is mysteriously cured of cancer after being prayed for by her congregation or where a man, deep in meditation, is able to survive weeks without food.  How can we explain these phenomena? Can we dismiss them by saying that spiritual people have a reduced level of stress, which improves their health? Is there a placebo effect going on? Or is there another explanation that is more divine in nature?

Here, you have found your resource for finding out what the world has to say about the linkage of spirituality with health. By the end of this article, you might even find yourself wondering if sickness can actually be due, at least in part, to unrest within the soul.

No one on this planet can truly understand the relationship between spirituality and health, but plenty of people have identified that such a relationship exists. A commonly held belief among healthcare workers is that a broken spirituality is not the sole cause of illness, but that it may put one at greater risk. Many also believe that spirituality can contribute to the healing of one’s body and ease the pain and suffering that comes with disease.  For instance, some studies have shown that those that pray regularly have a better chance of recovering from illness (Spirituality and Healthcare).

It might be time to dust off The Good Book and fall to your knees because more than a handful of scientific studies have demonstrated a positive relationship between the spirituality and health. In other words, being spiritual is likely beneficial to one’s health. Just so you know what we’re talking about, one study that was conducted among patients with Alzheimer’s disease concluded that those who considered themselves as spiritual and who engaged in private religious practices had a slower rate of cognitive decline. Another study looked at depression among patients with heartfailure or pulmonary disease, finding that patients who participated in religious activities, such as bible study, prayer, and frequent religious attendance, were able to heal faster from depression than those who claimed to be unspiritual
(Crossroads October 2007). That’s not all. Here are other findings that tie spirituality to health in the context of different illnesses:

  • Religious cancer patients demonstrated lower levels of despair, hostility, and social isolation than did non-religious cancer patients
    (Acklin et al., 1983).
  • Spiritual people living with HIV/AIDS experience better mental health, psychological adjustment, and coping than non-spiritual people living with HIV/AIDS (Somlai et al., 1996).
  • Spirituality lessened the adverse effects of stress on adjustment (Kim & Seidlitz, 2002).

We have presented a series of scientific conclusions, but our prediction is that you’re probably interested in what people like you have to say about the relationship. Here is what the general population thinks about spirituality and health:

  • 94% of people admitted to hospitals believe that spiritual health is just as important as physical health (American Family Physician).
  • 96% of physicians believe that spiritual well-being is important in regards to health (American Family Physician).

You have now been introduced to the relationship between spirituality and health, so we invite you to make the next move.  Perhaps this means you’ll discuss alternative forms of medicine with your physician or maybe you’ll enroll in a yoga class. Whatever the case may be, only you can decide how to use (or not use) this information for your benefit.