Every day, we face countless threats that put our mental health in the balance with real danger, and a direct result of the daily see-saw is stress. Defined as a feeling or sense of negative pressure on the mind, stress can be caused by a plethora of different factors, including work, school, relationships, and even personal thoughts and expectations.
Whenever circumstances work against our favor, or when we feel like we have more responsibilities than we’re capable of handling, stress becomes more and more prominent. While stress on its own does have benefits in that it can cause a person to push themselves to become more productive, allowing high levels of stress to dominate the mind can cause the development of significant mental health threats. The most common of these are anxiety and depression.
More about Anxiety and Depression
Each one of us has experienced anxiety at some point in our lives. Usually associated with an overloading of tasks and duties, anxiety is the feeling of nervousness or unease that we get when we think that we can’t fulfill what is expected of us. Anxiety can also develop as a result of over thinking, especially when we choose to believe that the outcomes of certain circumstances in our lives might not be what we want them to be.
Depression, on the other hand, is a diagnosis that focuses on a person’s mood. When an individual’s life continues on a monotonous, unsatisfying, or saddening path, they are likely to develop depression which is characterized by lowered mood and sadness.
While some people develop depression over a lengthy period of time, others can acquire it with a single triggering event such as the death of a loved one, a failed relationship, or loss of employment. In the event that either of these two begin to thrive in a person’s mind, significant negative changes can be expected in their demeanor and behavior.
For example, someone who experiences anxiety frequently and at heightened levels can become the victim of a nervous breakdown later on. In many ways, anxiety can also affect a person’s ability to function, causing them to focus more on their worries and apprehensions instead of maintaining concentration at the task at hand.
Those who experience depression are likely to withdraw from those around them, even people who are recognized as key individuals in their lives. Another significant change found in those who undergo this psychological state is their inability to perform daily tasks, and lack of motivation to perform personal care responsibilities such as bathing and eating. Finally, depressed individuals are often deeply sad and experience decreased mood on a consistent and prolonged basis that always takes a toll on their ability to work and do productive activities.
While there are numerous medications and treatments that have been developed over the years to reduce anxiety and depression, there are more natural, healthier ways in order to resolve these mental health problems. Today, research has shown that those who develop a spiritual life are less likely to become the victims of depression or anxiety, and are more inclined to have stronger defenses against the dangers of stress.
Spirituality can reduce and even prevent both anxiety and depression, and by observing a sincere spiritual practice, you can become better equipped to face the challenges of everyday life.
How Spirituality Can Help Reduce and Prevent Anxiety and Depression
1. It Allows Individuals to See Deeper Meaning in Times of Trouble
More often than not, when we view the challenges of life, we tend to see them as nothing more than hurdles placed in our way that make achieving our desires difficult or impossible. If we could change our path, many of us would probably choose to remove all obstructions and problems in order to ease the process of realizing our dreams. But while we all know that it’s impossible to simply erase the troubles of life, spirituality can give us an entirely new meaning. When a person decides to entrust their lives to a higher force, like God, and chooses to accept all situations as they are, they are more likely to view their troubles not as problems, but simply as situations that can be overcome, adapted to, or adjusted to. From this type of thinking a new attitude will emerge that in most cases will begin to see opportunity and possibility when previously unseen. This is how a person becomes stronger and empowered. When we mix faith into this equation we enter the realm of spirituality. A spiritual understanding that our life is eternal and that God is the master author of creation, and that all things are possible for us who abide in Him can give a person an even brighter outlook. The spiritual dimension of thought is what provides us the chance to see things in a new light and therefore face each day and challenges with greater, love, endurance, and power.
2. It Calms the Mind
One of the reasons why stress develops into anxiety and depression is because people have a tendency to allow stress to take the reins of the mind. Constantly thinking about the challenges and troubles we face on a daily basis, we allow worries to dominate our thoughts. Giving free rein to worry can eventually take over our will. This is how anxiety and depression sets in. Recent studies have shown, that those who establish a strong sense of spirituality are less likely to dwell on problems. No matter how big or daunting they might seem, these people give God preeminent position in thought and life. This means they worry and linger on negative aspects of life much less than which brings calmness, and in calmness on can think clearer and more creatively. This make people more higher functioning than those with the background noise of negative thinking.
3. It Enhances a Person’s Ability to Focus
When you’re depressed or anxious, odds are you won’t be able to perform many of the tasks and responsibilities you have. This is because those who experience either of these conditions have their motivation stripped away. Because their minds are constantly preoccupied with their troubles, doubts, and fears the mind cannot properly focus. When you choose spirituality however, your chances of maintaining concentration on the tasks you need to accomplish becomes much stronger. Those who consciously cast away worry and doubt begin to understand an important truth, there’s no benefit in worrying. Problems plague humanity regardless how good someone may be, and problems will exist whether we worry or not. Spiritual people understand that constant worry and apprehension are fruitless, and instead choose to maintain their attention on more important, productive matters, and responsibilities, leaving behind worry and charging ahead with productivity. They are unchanged even in the face of hefty difficulties and hurdles.
4. It Instills Hope
Depressed and anxious individuals often have one thing in common – hopelessness. Whether it’s hopelessness in terms of their relationships, their work, or their personal life, these people commonly refuse to believe that there are better, brighter days ahead. This results in a vicious cycle, leaving them to fall further and further into their negative state of mind, which feeds their depression and anxiety. Choosing a spiritual disposition on the other hand develops the opposite. Spiritually inclined people choose to see their problems as fleeting moments in their life. In believing that nothing lasts forever, these people understand that there is no need to worry about things that aren’t permanent. There are times when life will be positive and joyous, then there are times when problems and challenges will arise and take center stage. Rolling with the punches and riding the waves as they come will make it easier for people to get through their troubles, and this is precisely what spirituality teaches those who practice and observe it.
Spirituality is more than just a way of life – it’s an effective defense and solution against the many different dangers that threaten our mental health and overall well-being. Please share this article with whoever you think might benefit from it.
My best advice to shield yourself against stress, anxiety, and depression is to indulge in a healthy spiritual practice today. Find a church, Bible study, or Christian meditation practice that will keep your mind on God and all the powers available to you through your faith.
With that out of the way, consider the most important aspects that produce a rich spiritual life, love, hope, and faith (1 Corinthians 13:13) of these three, love trumps all. Love covers all. Love conquers all. Love unifies. Love motivates. Love heals. Love enlightens heart and mind. Love is God.
Love, love, love, then love some more. “Love until it hurts.” (Mother Theresa)
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