While there are many paths people use to find God, research shows that those who have made the journey 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:
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- 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.
- 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.
- Be Intrinsic. 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.
- Be Optimistic. 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.
- Use The Law of Attraction. There’s been a lot of press about the Law of Attraction, but this principle has been studied for centuries. Simply put, what you focus on is what you attract; if you focus on your frustrations, these experiences will continue, whereas if you focus on what you want in life, you’ll draw these positive things in. See this article for more on using the law of attraction in your life to create positive change.