People who are more spiritual have better mental health, psychological research finds.
Spiritual people feel a greater connection with the rest of the universe.
Being spiritual may boost people’s mental health because it reduces self-centredness.
Dr Dan Cohen, the study’s first author, said:
“In many ways, the results of our study support the idea that spirituality functions as a personality trait.
With increased spirituality people reduce their sense of self and feel a greater sense of oneness and connectedness with the rest of the universe.
What was interesting was that frequency of participation in religious activities or the perceived degree of congregational support was not found to be significant in the relationships between personality, spirituality, religion and health.”
Three surveys asked people about their personality, spirituality and mental and physical health.
The study included Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Muslims and Buddhists.
The results showed that people with faith had lower levels of neuroticism, which indicates better mental health.
Spiritual people were also more likely to be extraverted.
Dr Cohen said:
“Our prior research shows that the mental health of people recovering from different medical conditions, such as cancer, stroke, spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury, appears to be related significantly to positive spiritual beliefs and especially congregational support and spiritual interventions.
Spiritual beliefs may be a coping device to help individuals deal emotionally with stress.”
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The study was published in the Journal of Religion and Health (Johnstone et al., 2012).