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Health and Spirituality: 6 Ways that Spirituality can Improve Your Health

Can praying make you healthier? If you go to church will you live longer? The answer is, of course, maybe, but your chances could be better than you think. The health care professionals at Canberra Spine Centre do not consider the body to be just a collection of biological parts, but rather they see humans as a complex set of integrated organic systems that function best when they are in harmony with each other internally and externally with the environment that they inhabit.

Chiropractic professionals, like the ones at Canberra Spine Centre, are concerned with the well-being of the whole person, disease prevention, and health maintenance as much as healing and repairing. Chiropractic medicine is concerned with the alignment of the skeletal frame. This is because it is the housing of the central nervous system.

Maintaining a healthy, well-functioning nervous system is the key to providing holistic physical, mental, and emotional health. So it makes sense that anything that affects the nervous system, be it physical or abstract, is important to the doctors at Canberra Spine Centre when it comes to your health.

The opinion that mind, body, and soul are related and influence each other when it comes to health and wellness is not just a hunch anymore. Scientific studies show strong evidence that a “positive association between being religious or spiritual and improved health, both in response to acute events and chronic disease.” (Curr Pain Headache Rep 2006;10:41-6.)

A survey of 4,404 patients found that 90.3 percent of them believed that prayer improved their health (Am J Health Promot 2005;19:369-75). The doctors at Canberra Spine Centre want all of their valued patients to have a better understanding of just how important the connections between the abstract spiritual parts of life and the tangible physical parts are.

The Connection Between Health and Spirituality

Reduces Cardiovascular Disease:

Want to improve your chances of not having a high diastolic (bottom number) value for your blood pressure? A study by Duke University Medical Center found that of the 3,963 people over 65 years old, the people that attended religious services or read scripture daily were 40 percent less likely to have a high diastolic value than the people who did not practice such activities.

Interestingly enough, what some might consider religious activities, watching religious shows on TV or listening to religious radio shows had the opposite effect and actually were associated with raised blood pressures. (Int J Psy- chiatry Med 1998;28:189-213.) This could possibly be due to a negative message received from this kind of activity.

Higher levels of activities associated with spirituality (such as prayer, sacred study, attendance at social religious events) may be related to lower levels of anxiety in life. Higher anxiety levels are associated with cardiovascular disease, as well as obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Spiritual practices point towards lowering the risks of these dangers according to a study of adult, Hispanic women (AAOHN J 2006;54:120-8).

Part of the reason for religious or spiritual practices having this positive effect is that many such faiths promote the values of forgiveness and grace (loving or being loved more than one deserves). Those values tend to promote more harmonious relationships and less anxious lifestyles. This in turn produces a physical state that encourages physical healing.

Increases Life Expectancy:

We all want to live longer and every snake oil salesman this side of Alice Springs has the secret to longevity. But can being more religious or more spiritual prolong our lives? We all have anecdotal evidence to point towards what makes for a long life, but one study shows that healthy, regular church goers live 25 percent longer than non-church goers (Am Psy- chol 2003;58:36).

Those who attend religious services regularly can expect to enjoy seven more years of life than those who don’t, according to the journal Demography (Demography 1999;36:273-85). There may be many things involved in this conclusion, such as a healthier life style, fewer vices, lowered anxiety levels, for example. However, be that as it may, the numbers are still the same as a result of spiritual practices.

Fights Depression:

Most people are aware of how physically damaging depression can be. Practicing some form of spiritual exercise or religious behavior on a regular basis can help alleviate depression. The social nature of such practices sometimes offers support and hope to those who might otherwise be left despairing in their own problems.

A study of female victims of domestic violence by John Hopkins University found that 97 percent credited spirituality or God as a source of strength and comfort. Increased religious involvement directly corresponded to decreased depression and an increased sense of well-being (Violence Against Women 2006;12:240-50).

Improves Cancer Survival Rates:

It’s possible that spirituality can improve our ability to fight cancers. Greater immunity was found to be associated with more spirituality in women with breast cancer.   The spirituality was measured by “frequency of attendance at religious services and importance of religious or spiritual expression” (Holist Nurs Pract 2006;20:118.)   This is not conclusive, but it shows a possible connection between spirituality and better chances against cancer.

Combats Dementia:

One of the worst things that can happen as we get older is that we keep our physical health, but lose our ability to remember and recognize the world around us. Research shows that in some elderly people suffering from dementia, religious or spiritual routines or rituals can help to trigger memories and reconnect those people with their loved ones and community (Care Manag J 2004;5:183-7).

Averts Substance Abuse:

Substance abuse can be an extremely difficult demon to control due to its physical and social power over the will of the person drawn into its grip. The social and emotional nature of spiritual and religious practices make them a powerful tool that if immensely helpful in freeing people from addiction.

For those in treatment for substance abuse, lack of a spiritual and social aspect to their treatment is associated with a higher rate of recidivism. Whereas, a higher involvement in spiritual group activities, discussions, mentoring, and solitary reflection seemed to boost success rates (J Stud Alcohol 2006;67:600).

Activating Your Own Spirituality:

Spirituality: Many use this word a lot and assume that everyone else knows what we mean when, but we really don’t know how others understand it or how closely that understanding corresponds to our own meaning.

Dr. Chandrakant Shah, professor of public health sciences at the University of Toronto, defines spirituality as “the beliefs and values a person holds concerning one’s place in the universe and which reflect one’s connections with a higher power and social and physical environments.” This is useful definition as it emphasizes the individual and social natures, as well as the concrete and abstract nature of this elusive thing that we call “spirituality”.

What can you do to activate and energize your own spirituality? It is important to note the spiritual activity does not need to religious in nature to be valuable. Probably the most useful activities will include a mixture of solitary and social functions.

Almost any activity, when done with a selfless motivation, a desire to increase your awareness of the universe and help others, can be considered a spiritual or religious activity. Spiritual activities do no harm to ourselves or others.

Spiritual activities promote better self-awareness and awareness of the needs of others. The more that it brings joy and meaning to your life, the more that it promotes empathy and compassion, grace and forgiveness, both inwardly and outwardly, the more it can be considered a spiritual activity.

Learn More on How Spirituality can Improve Your Wellbeing with your Trusted Canberra Chiropractor

Finding your own path can be difficult and time consuming. It is also something that we must do alone. Each individual is the only person that can find their own path. No one can do it for us. Remember that the journey is as much a part of spirituality as the actual finding of a spiritual home.

However, other people can help us and be of service in our spiritual journeys even though they cannot make the journey for us. Let the professionals at Canberra Spinal Centre help to keep your physical health in top condition while you work on your spiritual health.