Attending a church or staying connected with your spiritual side may help you live longer and better.
Story by Juliete Palenshus
Blue Zones® researchers have discovered that people who are the healthiest and live the longest all seem to have a strong sense of belonging and purpose.
It’s so important that it’s one of the Power 9® common lifestyle habits of those living in the original Blue Zones areas that are helping people live longer and better. For many, this comes from spiritual or religious practice.
It’s not necessary to attend a church to receive these benefits (see related article). But the act of regularly attending a religious service is a common thread among cultures with the longest lifespans. Attending church, even once a month, seems to have a positive effect on one’s overall health and happiness.
A study in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior found those who attended religious services at least once per month had a longer life expectancy than those who did not.It seems that people who nourish their spiritual side lower their risk of heart disease, depression and stress, while increasing their immunity.
Here are some other benefits:
Provides a Big Social Network. Friends are an important part of enjoying a healthy, happy life. People who attend church have a big social network and a regular meeting place. Participating in a religious community is a great way to connect, bond and share life’s ups and downs.
Encourages Positive Behaviors. People who attend church tend to be more physically active and may be less likely to indulge in unhealthy behaviors.
Creates a Sanctuary in Time. Taking regular breaks from the rigors of daily life is a great way to relieve stress and strengthen your social networks with loved ones.
Supports a Sense of Purpose. Religion encourages positive behaviors and expectations. When people act in accordance with their beliefs and values, they feel good about themselves and are more likely to feel a sense of pride and purpose in their daily lives.
IF CHURCH ISN’T YOUR THING
You don’t have to attend church to connect with your spiritual side, but you should set aside some time for yourself. Making time for your spiritual side creates a space for you to slow down. Practices like yoga or meditation can give you a break from the nonstop, internal chatter that goes on in the mind. Being active outside is also a great way to relieve stress and reconnect with your spiritual side.
TOP 5 WAYS TO ENGAGE YOUR SPIRITUAL SIDE
Get involved. If you already belong to a church or religious group that meets regularly, get involved. Studies suggest that the more you participate, the greater the reward, and possibly the longer your life.
Go with an open mind. You may find something you would like to be involved in, whether it’s singing with a choir, connecting with others who have similar interests, or volunteering.
Do something for someone else. Sometimes the best way to take care of yourself is by taking care of someone else. When you help someone else, it takes the focus away from your own problems.
Take a walk. Whether you walk to relax, for fitness or weight loss benefits, or just to connect with nature, your steps can lead to inner peace, mental focus and spiritual awareness.
Reconnect with yourself. Take some time each day to think about who you are and what your purpose is in the world. Figuring out what is truly important to you can help to lessen daily frustrations and stress.
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