Having a spiritual belief keeps you healthy. People with religious and spiritual beliefs will live longer, and are less likely to get ill, suffer from depression or become suicidal.
And if they do get ill, their symptoms won’t be as severe as someone with no religious beliefs, and they’ll recover quicker.
A person’s spiritual beliefs should be front and centre of a doctor’s relationship with his patient, say researchers from the T H Chan School of Medicine at Harvard University, who have carried out the most exhaustive search yet into the impact of spiritual beliefs on health and recovery.
They reviewed nearly 600 studies to discover the profound impact that spiritual beliefs have on our health and wellbeing.
Spirituality is the path a person follows for ultimate meaning, purpose and connection to something bigger than himself, and this can be within organized religion or a more individual spiritual quest. Churchgoers also have the added benefit of community, which could be another factor in well-being, the researchers say.
(Source: JAMA, 2022; 328: 184-97)