By Joyce Wilson
Joyce is a retired teacher and enjoys sharing lesson plans, resources, and teaching tips on Teacher Spark. She is also passionate about teaching and loves using her writing to help teachers, parents, and students.
We live in an age where people feel depressed, stressed at work and at home, anxious, and unhappy. There are documentaries exploring why we live in a society that is overweight, sick and unhappy. Antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications and other mood enhancers are now being prescribed more than ever before – with a long, often dangerous list of side effects and the possibility of addiction.
If you’re looking to improve your mental, emotional and physical well-being, there are other options for you besides prescription medication. Recent studies have shown something that the churches have known for centuries: a strong spiritual faith can do wonders for your body, mind and soul.
In recent years, scientific studies have actually shown that there is a link between faith and good health. In 2015, Duke University announced that studies have shown the power of prayer in preventing illness, sickness and disease. Even when people do get sick, prayer can promote faster recovery and healing. Best of all, these scientific results are not just limited to one single study. Medical research from multiple leading journals and universities across the United States has shown the same thing: believing in a higher power is good for you. Your faith and your prayers can actually heal the body, make you happier, and possibly even help you live longer.
One of the ways prayer helps us is by reducing our stress and anxiety levels. When we “give it to God” or “let go and let God” we are releasing our need to stress, fret and worry about our current situation. Letting go of stress in this way has obvious mental and emotional health benefits, like improved mental health. Of course, it also benefits our physical bodies because high stress and anxiety levels have been linked to autoimmune disorders, weakened immune system, fatigue, and a variety of other stress-related health conditions.
Stress, anxiety and depression have all been linked to obesity. Therefore, if your goal this year is to lose weight, prayer might actually help.
Some studies have even linked psychological stress to cancer so by letting go of stress, you might reduce your chances of developing this devastating disease, and you could possibly even improve your overall health and longevity.
In addition to the health benefits listed above, individuals who have a devout religious or spiritual practice have been scientifically shown to have strengthened immune systems, lower blood pressure, and possibly even healthier cardiovascular functioning than those who don’t pray on a regular basis.
To enjoy all of the benefits of prayer, and to bolster your health and happiness, look to other areas of your life where you can encourage uplift and reduce stress For example, your home should be the respite you need from the stressors of daily life. Consider adding elements or creating spaces that promote health and healing. Add some plants, or invest in soothing artwork, reorganize your space, or even add an area that’s specifically designated for prayer and meditation.
The power of prayer is a time-tested method that has been used for centuries. It doesn’t require any pills and it doesn’t cost us a penny. There are zero side effects and you don’t need an appointment with your doctor; you can pray at your convenience, anytime, day or night, from anywhere – including the comfort of your own home. Try incorporating more prayer into your life. You’ll reconnect with God, with yourself, and you might even notice some happy benefits for your body, mind and soul.