Nurture your spiritual side and live longer

September 23, 2015

If you want to add seven years to your life, then consider making more time for your "spiritual" side. Here's a primer on why you should consider this aspect of yourself and how to go about it.

Nurture your spiritual side and live longer

The research

Over the years, scientists around the world have conducted more than 1,200 studies, all of which suggest a positive relationship between spirituality and long life. What they've found is that nurturing your spiritual health and sense of purpose is usually associated with an increase in longevity.

But this does not necessarily mean attending religious services.

Beneficial spiritualitycould involve anything that boosts your spiritual self, like doing something to help other people or supporting a cause in which you strongly believe.

In one U.S. study, people undergoing open-heart surgery who said they gained strength and comfort from their religion were three times more likely to survive than those with no spiritual beliefs. Even skeptics accept that faith probably exercises a powerful placebo effect. Put simply, people often get better because they believe they will.

How you can nurture your spiritual side

Even if you're not interested in formal religious services, nurturing your spiritual side through activities such as volunteer work, spending time out in the open countryside or meditation has clear benefits.

  • Meditate. Meditation eases anxiety and lowers blood pressure. It's also a tool used in most religions to bring you closer to a higher spiritual level. According to the British Heart Foundation, transcendental meditation has been found to be effective in slowing both breathing and pulse rate, leading to deep relaxation. Recent studies have produced positive results in terms of the effects of transcendental meditation on blood pressure levels.
  • Help others. Mindfully helping a good cause, whether you give money or volunteer your time, deepens your connection to humanity and promotes a feeling of greater purpose. If you have time, offer help in delivering food to the elderly, manning a charity store, walking dogs at a local animal shelter or teaching someone to read. Your local paper may have listings of where volunteers are needed.
  • Go for a walk. Few people can walk by a river or on the common, or even sit in a park, without feeling the beauty and power of a larger force around them. Make a point of getting outside once a day, even if it's only to sit under a tree in your garden.
  • Say it out loud If you use meditative phrases or prayers, it seems that saying them out loud may increase their effect. An Italian study of men and women reciting either a yoga mantra or the "Ave Maria" found that both appeared to slow breathing rhythms to six breaths a minute (the normal rate is between 16 to 20 breaths per minute).
  • Appreciate the good things Once a day, whether first thing in the morning, before dinner or at bedtime, give mental thanks for all the good things and lovely people in your life. Actively expressing appreciation for essentials such as food, your home or even your job can be a positive reminder of how lucky you are.
  • Express yourself There are lots of ways to get in touch with your creative self. You could keep a diary, try your hand at painting or pottery, try gardening or learn furniture restoration. Find what works for you, and run with it.

Bear this primer on nurturing your spiritual side in mind to help you on the road to overall health.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
Close menu