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Why Spirituality and Religion Remain Powerful Resources for So Many People in 2020

Shmuel Fischler, LCSW-C · February 5, 2020

A 2017 poll found that the number of Americans identifying as religious decreased over the course of the five years preceding it. However, that doesn’t mean that they lack a sense of spirituality! From 2012-17, the number of Americans identifying as “spiritual but not religious” increased from 19% to 27%. In the same poll, people who identified as “religious and spiritual” made up 48% of respondents, and people who identified as “religious but not spiritual” composed 6%. Spirituality and religion both remain powerful ways to cope with all of the stress and confusion of the modern world.

Spirituality and Religion

As the statistics above indicate, spirituality and religion play an important role in the lives of millions of Americans. While there is no causal link that has been established, higher levels of spirituality and religious participation are associated with higher levels of compassion, stronger interpersonal relationships and increased self-esteem. Whether you engage in your spiritual side through praying at church or privately meditating, taking time to explore a higher power and things beyond yourself can offer serious benefits.

Historically, religion and spirituality have existed in every culture as a way to give life meaning and offer people comfort in the face of the hardships that have always existed—suffering, anxiety, misfortune, disease, isolation, insecurity and death. Religion can also help people to process and acknowledge more positive and overwhelming parts of life, like the vastness of the universe and the beauty present all around us.

The Benefits of Spirituality and Religion

The search and pursuit of something beyond ourselves is important, and it offers many mental health benefits, including:

  • Community: When you participate in a religion or spiritual group, you gain a sense of community and belonging. If you attend a church, you can meet new people with shared values and create meaningful bonds. A sense of belonging reduces feelings of isolation and can increase self-confidence.
  • Mindfulness: Many religions and spiritual practices value mindfulness and self-reflection. Mindfulness has many proven benefits for our mental health, and it can also lead to an increased sense of finding meaning in the world, other people, nature, art or music.
  • Coping Skills: Religion and spiritual practices often try to find a higher purpose in things, and that skill can make it easier to deal with the trials and tribulations of daily life. When you believe that there is greater meaning in your life, it can help you to push through the hard moments you will face.

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