spirituality

The Mental Health Benefits of Spirituality

Published on November 21, 2019 by First Responder Wellness

Whether you grew up in a religious household or were never exposed to spirituality, everyone must define their own spiritual beliefs for themselves, as adults. In fact, research has found that spiritual practices have tangible value for your mental health. Spirituality is a personal experience, and it is entirely your decision whether to pursue such a practice. If you do choose to foster a spiritual connection, it is essential to remember that spirituality doesn’t have to look the same for everyone. You are free to create a practice that works best for you while enjoying the long-term benefits of spiritual life.

A Sense of Community

One significant benefit of being a part of a religious group is the availability of a robust social network. Religion unites many different people under a common umbrella of belief and core values. These religious communities tend to support each other in a compassionate and altruistic way. By joining a church, meditation center, or other spiritual community, you are immediately creating new connections.  Spiritually oriented people often appreciate your presence and willingness to learn. Social connections formed through spirituality often become some of the most solid relationships in your life. They provide a sense of security and are built on a foundation of mutual morality. Additionally, most spiritual practices discourage unhealthy habits such as substance abuse. Instead, they provide a healthy way to connect with others without the constant presence of alcohol that is prevalent at many other social functions. 

The Comfort of Ritualism

All spiritual practices offer a set of rituals and a sense of ceremony that can be learned and implemented in your personal life. Some of these practices are ancient, while others have been adapted to a modern lifestyle. While many of these rituals can seem unnecessary or tedious to outsiders, they actually serve several purposes. Primarily, they help bring the practitioner closer to God or the divine. Spiritual routines also help us process painful emotions and events by providing us with action to take when things are beyond our control. For example, the practice of prayer offers us support when we are worried about the outcome of a difficult situation. Religious funeral ceremonies help us experience closure and healing after the death of a loved one. Additionally, religious customs are often structured to ensure that we create balance in our lives. In Christianity, for instance, followers are encouraged to take one day each week dedicated to rest. These customs remind us to take time to breathe and prevent us from becoming overwhelmed by the stress of work and family life.

The Benefits of Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the primary goal of meditation practices, but this concept is actually a large part of many religions. As humans, we are often naturally inclined to worry about the future or regret the past. This pulls away from the present moment. Although worry and regret have developed as survival instincts, they can cause us to miss out on the joy life has to offer. Cultivating a mindfulness practice allows you to anchor yourself into the moment, relieve stress, and work through difficult emotions. Additionally, research has shown that regular meditation or other mindfulness activities such as yoga have a positive impact on mood regulation, focus, and different cognitive abilities.  

A Sense of Purpose

At the end of the day, we are all struggling to figure out our place in the world. Spirituality and religion offer answers to many of life’s most difficult questions. You can decide for yourself how those answers fit into your understanding of the world and adjust as you see fit, of course. However, being offered an explanation for the inexplicable things in life can be incredibly comforting. Additionally, people with a strong sense of purpose experience better mental health and more fulfillment in life. Religion and spirituality can create a sense of belonging and a purpose-driven existence that makes you feel like a critical part of something larger than yourself. Of course, it is possible to live with purpose and experience fulfillment without religion or spirituality. On the other hand, many people find that opening themselves up to spirituality provides them with something they were previously lacking. For individuals struggling with mental health disorders and addiction, a spiritual practice can be a critical pillar of recovery. At the very least, it is worth exploring for every person who wishes to achieve mental wellness.

The First Responders Treatment Program at Simple Recovery uses trauma-informed strategies to cater to the unique needs of law enforcement, firefighters, paramedics, and other first responders with substance use disorders and co-occurring mental illnesses. We recognize that first responders encounter job-specific barriers and obstacles that come with the culture of their careers. Existing stigmas may make seeking help for addiction and mental health issues especially tricky. Addiction does not have to mean the end of your career. Nor do you have to resign yourself to a lifetime of struggling with your health and relationships.

At Simple Recovery, we take a holistic approach to treatment and addressing the underlying causes of addiction. This approach makes it possible for first responders to regain control of every aspect of their wellbeing. First responders dedicate their lives to protecting their community. At Simple Recovery’s First Responder Treatment Program, we dedicate our time to helping these compassionate individuals find a path to lasting sobriety and mental wellness. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, call us now at 888-743-0490