Use Spirituatliy for Stress Relief

Here's How To Use Your Spirituality To Manage Stress

Spirituality is linked with coping ability
Those who use spirituality to cope tend to fare better with stress. Here's what you need to know. Tim Robberts/The Image Bank/Getty Images

While there are many paths people use to find God, research shows that those who have made the journey to find a spiritual path and locate a community of supportive, like-minded people to grow with tend to find greater relief from stress and enjoy better health and happier lives. (This article on stress and spirituality can tell you more about these benefits.) While most people who are religious or spiritual find a religious community that supports their journey, there are specific ways that you can use your faith to reduce stress. The following are research-supported methods of stress relief that have a spiritual basis:

Pray Often

​Prayer can help you feel more connected with God, leaving you with a calmer, safer, more grounded feeling that can act as a buffer against stress. It can also bring benefits similar to the benefits of meditation, including lower blood pressure, increased immunity, and more.  Whether you pray in a house of worship or on your own, prayer and meditation can bring inner peace and a measurable sense of calm.  And even if answers don't seem clearer after a prayer session, you may feel a deeper sense of trust that you will be able to handle whatever comes your way, even if it's not your first choice of outcome.

Express Gratitude

Although the benefits of gratitude toward God are more prevalent among older women than older men, gratitude toward God has been linked with improved health outcomes, and can reduce the experience of stress as well. One effective way to increase your gratitude level is to keep a gratitude journal, in which you record all for which you are grateful. Then, you’re left with a list that can act as a pick-me-up when you’re feeling down, and you get into the habit of noticing all that is good in your life as you write about it.  You can also just send a prayer of thanks whenever you feel grateful for something, or at times that make sense, like before a meal or before bed.  Focusing on what you're grateful for can bring greater feelings of abundance.

Be Intrinsically Oriented

Just as there are many different faiths, there are different ways to experience religion within a faith. Some people express their spirituality ‘intrinsically’, or in a more personal way, dedicating their lives to God and to becoming a good person. Others use religious involvement ‘extrinsically’, or to meet external needs like finding friends or developing greater standing in a community. According to research, you experience greater benefits from being intrinsically oriented.  This is reason enough to focus on both, but especially on the inner experience of spirituality, rather than just the outwardly visible activities and benefits.

Maintain Optimism

There’s a lot of value in the phrase, ‘When God closes a door, He opens a window.’ Those who have a greater trust in God may be more optimistic. (Research shows many benefits to optimism, which you can read about here.) Having trust that there is always another option available can help you develop a more internal locus of control, which brings many benefits as well. Trust your abilities, trust your situation, trust God.

Find The Lesson

Those who are more spiritual have the benefit of seeing stressful situations as tests of strength, or even as valuable lessons from God. This can be a good distinction, as viewing a stressful event as a challenge can make the event itself feel less threatening. If you feel less threatened, you aren’t as physically reactive to stress, and you may find more effective ways to cope, turning a difficult situation into a path to a better life or greater personal growth.

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