Did you know...spirituality, prayer and meditation can reduce stress?

Editor June 14th, 2011

Did you know that high levels of stress can affect your body in many ways?

For instance, stress can contribute to damage and clots in the heart that keep your blood from flowing properly. This can lead to heart disease and increase your risk for heart attacks.

Heart disease is a serious issue in Harlem -- it is the leading cause of death in East Harlem, and residents of East Harlem are hospitalized for heart disease at a rate 80% higher than the rest of Manhattan. Over the past 10 years, the number of Harlem residents hospitalized for heart disease has increased over ten percent.

Luckily, there are many things you can do to help keep stress from making you sick. For example, research shows that spirituality, prayer and meditation can relieve stress and have powerful effects on your physical and mental health. Here's a closer look at how you can use these important tools to reduce stress in your life.

What is spirituality?

Spirituality means different things to different people, but can often include:

  • Something that gives meaning or purpose to your life.
  • A set of values or principles to live by.
  • Belief in a higher power.
  • Recognition of powers beyond the natural and logical.
  • Accepting that some things have no easy answer and so must be left to a higher power.
  • Caring about or loving other people.

How can prayer and meditation help reduce stress and improve health?

Using these relaxation techniques may help ease physical pain like headaches and backaches.
You may also feel less anger and frustration.
Reducing stress in this way can also help you have more energy and better focus. When you're less stressed you can also handle problems more easily and get more done every day.
  • Prayer and meditation can help you avoid getting too frustrated with the "little things" in daily life and help you look at the "bigger picture."
  • Religion and spirituality can also offer comfort and strength that is important when dealing with stressful situations.
  • Taking quiet, peaceful time gives your body and mind important time to relax and renew. Your body's functions and breathing slow down, your heart rate and blood pressure lower, your muscles relax, and even your brain become less active.
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