When you are dealing with mental health it is often helpful to have multiple support systems. These systems can include people, professionals, coping strategies, lifestyle changes, spirituality, and religion. When you include the idea of spirituality and religion into your support system you have another avenue of support. This does not mean that you have to include them in your system, they are simply options that can provide assistance to some individuals working on improving their mental health.
It is important to note that these choices are individual and must be congruent to your own lived experience, values, and beliefs. There is no one correct method or choice as each person will experience and see spirituality and religion differently. However, if they are concepts that integrate within your life, you can use them to support your mental health.
What Is The Difference Between Spirituality And Religion?
Spirituality and religion are terms that are often used interchangeably, however, they refer to two different experiences. Understanding each concept can help you determine whether it is something that can support you in your journey.
Spirituality refers to the idea of believing in something more than yourself, this may fall under many different religions, or no specific religion at all. The idea that there is something greater than the individual allows for the acceptance of a connection with others, a sense of purpose, and a way to help develop meaning throughout your life.
Spirituality does not need to be linked to a specific religion and can stand as a mindset and belief system on its own. This can be where individuals see that there is more to life’s experience that can necessarily be perceived on a tangible level.
Religion on the other hand is far more structured. It is usually a set of beliefs based around an agreed upon set of rules and rituals usually centering around a higher power or deity. Religious beliefs often provide purpose and meaning to life as well as offering guidance on daily practices.
How Does Spirituality And Religion Aid Mental Health Improvement?
When you align with spirituality and/or religion you can use it to support or enhance your mental health. These practices can build your inner resilience as well as your external contact with your environment which can increase self-esteem, feelings of self-worth, and overall well-being. The benefits of this support can be seen in the following:
- Increasing emotional resilience by practices such as mindfulness, meditation, or prayer. These practices offer you a chance to become focused on the present moment and help to build inner resilience and decrease anxiety in each moment.
- Both spirituality and religion offer an individual purpose and meaning in their lives. These can be felt in goals, values, beliefs that align with the specific context an individual finds themself in. When you feel that you have a meaningful life or a purpose you often have more motivation.
- There is often a social aspect that provides a supportive community base for you to interact with other people who have similar world views and values as you. This connection and feeling of belonging often boosts mental health as you feel supported and not left alone.
- Many spiritual and religious practices require you to increase the level of your self-reflection which allows you to build your self-awareness. The more self-aware you are the easier it is for you to implement healthy coping strategies.
- Both spiritual and religious practices also provide a sense of ritual or routine, which offers security and a sense of certainty. When you experience this certainty you often feel more comfortable and secure in your lived experience.
- Spirituality and religion offer you a framework to develop ethical viewpoints and morals. When you have a moral or ethical value system you often feel more at ease with your interactions with the world and with yourself as a person. This often increases self-worth and self-esteem.
When you experience a spiritual or religious life you can gain these benefits for your mental health. As with any other techniques or supportive strategies, spirituality and religion work when they are engaged and worked with each day. Consistent interaction with the framework you choose will help increase the benefit it has on your mental health.
How Does Spirituality And Religion Work With Therapy?
Many therapists understand the value of spirituality and religion when it comes to building positive mental health. Therapy will usually work with the client, with you, as the center of focus and the driver of the process. This means that the therapist will work with your choice of belief system to help integrate it into your mental health intervention.
You can weave your spirituality and religious beliefs into your therapy, just as you incorporate any other part of your support system. Therefore, if you are not choosing to engage with spirituality or religion, then you can still have a beneficial and valuable therapeutic process.
Spirituality and religion are two possible support strategies that can be added to an individual’s general support system which increases overall wellbeing and mental health. You can incorporate these elements into a therapeutic approach to further improve your mental health.
If you would like to engage in a therapeutic process that incorporates your spirituality or religious beliefs, you can contact us, and begin this process to the benefit of your mental health.