As you may already know, prayer can boost both your mental and physical health. This has been proven by a variety of scientific studies. Below are four specific ways.
1. Prayer can help your self-control
If you’re looking to quit a bad habit like smoking or excess drinking or you’re having a hard time sticking to a new, good habit like healthy eating and exercise, prayer can help with that. In fact, prayer has been shown to increase one’s ability to perform tasks. Not only that, but prayer has also been shown to help people adhere to oftentimes difficult personal goals.
“Recent research indicates that prayer can help you get more out of your ‘self-control muscle.’ Research participants who said a prayer prior to a mentally exhausting task were better able to exercise self-control following that task. In addition, other studies demonstrate the prayer reduces alcohol consumption, which may reflect the exercise of self-control. Findings such as these suggest that prayer has an energizing effect,” says Psychology Today.
2. Prayer can help you reduce stress
Like meditation and other mindfulness exercises, prayer has a calming effect on the body and mind. Researchers have shown that prayer, and to a certain extent secular self-motivation exercises, can actually help to reduce blood pressure, slow breathing, and control heart rate. All of these physical signs point to a reduced stress level. Controlling stress is very important, as stress can manifest itself in a variety of physical ailments. Which leads us to …
3. Prayer can make you physically healthier
When we think about prayer, we usually think about its effects on our minds. It calms us, makes us feel more connected to a higher power or the world around us, and makes us more mindful and generous. But these effects actually translate to your physical well-being.
“[During prayer] the body’s metabolism decreases, the heart rate slows, blood pressure goes down, and our breath becomes calmer and more regular. This physiological state is correlated with slower brain waves, and feelings of control, tranquil alertness and peace of mind. This is significant because Benson estimates that over half of all doctor visits in the U.S. today are prompted by illnesses, like depression, high blood pressure, ulcers and migraine headaches, that are caused at least in part by elevated levels of stress and anxiety,” says Richard Schiffman writing for the Huffington Post.
When you take into account prayer’s ability to boost your ability to manage bad habits and stick to good ones, coupled with its physically calming effect on your body, it’s no wonder people turn to prayer to make themselves feel better.
4. Prayer can help you deal with depression
Prayer is not a cure-all for depression. Depression is a serious illness that can manifest in a variety of ways, leading to irritability, sleeplessness, and even substance abuse. It’s always smart to consult a doctor if your depression symptoms become overwhelming. But prayer can used, in connection with other treatments, to help you get through tough times.
The way prayer does this like nothing else is that it gives you a sense of purpose. When tragedy strikes, it’s important to put things into context. If you feel like everything is part of a greater plan, it’s easier to cope when you feel down.
Prayer also promotes happiness and generosity at a chemical level. When you pray, your brain produces hormones that give it a boost – similar to what happens when you do any other pleasurable activity.
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