BlessWorld Foundation International

Affecting the World Through Health
A Global Health Initiative

Spirituality and Health



Spirituality is a universal human experience which acknowledges the existence of a spiritual being- a higher power that is believed by many to give life a meaning; bring forth hope for an after-life and offers peace of mind or general wellbeing of the soul. It refers to all efforts to discover purpose and destiny in relation to a sacred or significant being which may have a secular, religious, philosophical, humanist or personal facet. More so, spirituality and spiritual activities are rooted in values, beliefs, practices and philosophies that may impact peoples’ cognition, emotion, and behavior. Most people connect spiritually through religion and religious objects viewed as sacred or through a deep sense of awareness and consciousness. Others feel connected to spirituality through music, arts, values, moral principles or nature. It is believed that spirituality is related to- and in fact, plays a role in quality of life, wellbeing, health and wellness. However, the exact means by which spirituality relates to health unclear; except for the wide-held belief that the spirit, soul, mind and body are connected, and that the wellness of any one of them seems to affect the other significantly. It is believed that spirituality is beneficial for health and healing possibly because it teaches abstinence from unhealthy behaviors such as smoking and excessive drinking.

According to some research, there exists a link between beliefs and sense of well-being. More specifically, positive beliefs and energy as well as the comfort, and confidence conferred by spirituality through religious acts such as mindfulness meditation, yoga, rituals, prayer and religious activities promote healing, contribute to general well-being and may improve mental health. They may also prevent some health problems, promote a feeling of wellness and help one cope better with ill-health, stress or loss.

Mind-body medical research, a field that focuses on the complex relationship between social and spiritual elements and their influence on health and disease, involves investigating and promoting positive spiritual coping strategies used by patients to manage stress and disease. Despite the several published studies examining the connection between spirituality and health, outcomes have remained multifaceted and complicated with methodological controversy due to confounders including specific attitudes, behaviors, beliefs, emotions and practices unique to individuals.

Research suggests that individuals who participate in spiritual activities or acknowledge that spirituality is a source of strength and comfort are healthier and may possess greater healing capabilities. Additionally, some studies report positive associations between spirituality and life expectancy, decreased rates of stroke, cancer, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, drug abuse, suicide, and general mortality. To improve the benefits of spirituality to health, one must identify and spend time in the activities that foster a sense of inner peace, comfort, strength, love, and connection. Some of these activities may include selfless community service, volunteering, praying, meditating, singing devotional songs, reading religious books, watching inspirational videos, taking nature walks, having quiet times, thinking, yoga, playing sports, fellowshipping with people of the same faith, travelling and attending religious services. Noteworthy, it is important to share one’s beliefs with his/her physician, especially when being treated for a specific illness. This is because spiritual activities may influence feelings, understanding, decisions and adherence to instructions or medications in medical situations. Due to the complexity of spirituality-health relationship, an interdisciplinary perspective is required for further research and clinical care

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