Can Spirituality Help You Cope?

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What the research says

Speaking with your clergyperson or becoming more involved with faith-based activities may be helpful in dealing with anxiety and depression. A 2016 study published in the journal Gerontologist examined data involving more than 7,000 depressed and non-depressed older adults. Researchers found that religious belief both protected against and helped individuals recover from depression. But anything that helps you feel centered and connected, such as simple prayers, meditation, or mindfulness, may be helpful. Here's how to incorporate spirituality into your life.

Talk about your faith

Bring it up to your mental health professional. He or she may not ask about it, but your religious or spiritual background is an important part of who you are and how your mind works.

Give prayer a try

Some people are able to pray spontaneously, while others would rather read something already written. If you would feel more comfortable with a set prayer, look for a book or ask your clergyperson for suggestions. Ask your religious organization if it has a prayer support group for people with mental health issues or if they know of one nearby.

Go online

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has an outreach program to those who want to approach mental illness from a faith perspective. NAMI’s FaithNet has articles, resources, and an online discussion group.

Learn to meditate

Evidence suggests that meditation may help with depression and anxiety. Meditation can be as simple as repeating a mantra—a calming word or phrase—while focusing on your breathing.