Healthy spirits

It’s Good Friday and for a good percentage of the world that means a turning of thoughts towards matters of the spirit. The cynics among us may immediately leap to declare that religion and spirituality do not necessarily walk hand in hand and it is hard to deny that sometimes they do not. It is true though, that both religion and spirituality have positive effects on the human condition and according to a new report they both have an impact on your health.

The new research involved an analysis of previous work looking at the effect of religion and spirituality on health. For the research “religion” was defined as formal affiliation with a group and attendance at services. Spirituality, on the other hand, was defined as personal practices such as meditation and private prayer.

The analysis revealed that religion helps regulate behaviour and this leads to better health habits such as lower smoking rates and reduced alcohol consumption. It emerged that spirituality helps regulate emotions and how you feel which in turn leads to physiological benefits like reductions in blood pressure.

So as far as your physical Health goes it seems that religion and spirituality have complementary effects and go well together. In that conclusion might lie a message, or template, for how to live in general. Perhaps we really do need the soul support that gathering in groups of like-minded people offers but we need to be aware that such gatherings are no substitute for self-knowledge and contemplation.

Easter is a religious festival but it is also a break in the regular routine of life that offers an opportunity for reflection and spirituality. Whether you take the opportunity or not is up to you, but it’s a brave person, or a foolish one, who lets an opportunity pass them by.

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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