As I have been progressing through my graduate studies, I have learned that having and following a religion is beneficial to the personal development of each individual. It provides guidance, or at least a path to resolve anguish or negative emotions. It provides a sense of community and belonging for an individual, and so much more. Utilizing religion in an individual’s daily life is a great way to ensure you are leading a more productive lifestyle.
A study that focused on healthcare workers’ mental well-being found that healthcare workers were more likely to experience mental distress, especially during the COVID-19 Pandemic. The workers monitored reported their religious beliefs and how they felt about their mental well-being initially and after six weeks. Ultimately, they found that Christians and Catholics perceived that they had better psychological well-being if they based it on their religious beliefs while Buddhists and Taoists were less likely to experience mental distress while also experiencing increased happiness. After the 6-week follow-up, Christian/Catholic workers developed lower psychological well-being. This concluded that religious faith does have an impact on mental health and the level of happiness that an individual perceives. Additionally, the study noticed the trend of Christian/Catholic believers reported slower recovery from the decrease in happiness.
While I will not make inferences on the differences between the two categories, I will not that religion is essentially a “meaning-making coping system” that influences subjective well-being and the way we cope with traumatic/stressful events throughout life.
Implications as Supported by NAMI
Religion creates faith, structure, and connection to peers. Religion is to be referred to in this section as the collective belief of a given culture. It provides a community in which we can initiate social connections, and create a sense of belonging as well as a sense of safety. The formation and membership within organized religion fosters the development of coping mechanisms, provides structure, regularity, and predictability, and recommends necessary rest for our physical and mental bodies. Additionally, it provides an area of teaching and learning by giving guidelines to live by, teaches to have compassion, forgiveness, and gratitude, as well as life lessons and challenges to learn from.
On the flip side, spirituality is also beneficial. Spirituality is the sense of connections to bigger things and promotes introspection about one’s meaning of life (as it is different from everyone else). Spirituality motivates one’s aspirations to develop a deeper sense of individuality which enhances the sense of self and self-empowerment. It creates a focused connection to the individual’s personal spiritual belief thus motivating self-growth. Additionally, spiritualism teaches the acceptance of all shapes, sizes, colors, religious beliefs, etc. A spiritual belief promotes meditation and self-reflection, meaningful life philosophical discussions, and self-expression. Finally, it harnesses a focus on unity within the surroundings. It renews a sense of belonging in the world as a whole, regardless of religious group or community. It instills the inspiration of appreciation and awareness of physical interaction within the environment.
It’s important to know the difference between religion and spirituality as religion is taught by their specific beliefs which can lead to some misconceptions about the meaning of acceptance or science, for example.