(Gloucestercitynews.net)(Dec. 11, 2019)--While church attendance seems to be declining, and a mental health crisis is rising, many people may not realize the many benefits of attending church.
Almost 20% of Americans report having no religious affiliation in 2018. This is more than double the 8% who had no preference just a decade earlier.
Attending church has several benefits that may have you reconsidering your connection with a higher power. Read on to find out what they are.
1. Mental Health Benefits of Attending Church
This world is a stressful and often confusing place. Depression, anxiety, and stress are challenges facing many as they struggle through life. It often leaves people wondering their place in the universe and what the purpose of their life is.
Studies show that religion and spirituality can benefit mental and physical health, and relieve depression, anxiety, and stress by providing an answer to many of those questions about life.
2. Physical Health Benefits
When you're less stressed and more content in life (which is often associated with spiritual connections), your physical health also improves.
You can actually lower your blood pressure, reduce your risk of heart attack or stroke, and even reduce your risk of dementia.
Religious affiliation also has some guidelines and spiritual rules that lead to healthier life choices; for example, some religions forbid addictive substances. Some promote no or little meat intake, alcohol, or drugs. These can all lead to a healthier life overall.
Not only does church reduce stress, but it may also help you live longer. That's right—a study of middle-aged adults showed that there was a link between attending church and mortality that goes above and beyond just reducing stress.
3. Social Connections
Another benefit of church attendance can be the social connections you make with other parishioners. The individuals you meet may become your friends and offer emotional support in your life.
Feeling connected to a community or individuals with similar beliefs and interests is a critical part of actualization and joy in life. The activities, community, and sense of belonging in a church can provide that much-needed sense of belonging.
4. Guidance and Direction
No matter who you are or what your life is like, there are roadblocks, challenges, and tragedies to deal with at some point. Religion and spirituality can help give an individual guidance and direction, as well as comfort.
Many spiritual individuals have thought about and determined their priorities in life because their religion gives them a place to start and a litmus test for choices.
Someone without religion or spirituality may make very different decisions without a moral place to start setting their personal boundaries. While there are millions of good people making good choices without religion, having one can make it easier to make kinder and less selfish choices in your life.
There is no quandary because your religion sets what is right and wrong in your life. While you still have the ultimate choice, you have a personal standard to begin making that choice from.
5. Develop Talents
Attending church can often create opportunities to grow and develop talents a person otherwise would never use.
Many of the top celebrity singers developed their voices and talents while singing in church from the time they were young. Justin Timberlake, Aretha Franklin, John Legend, and many more have attributed their talent and love for music to their church attendance.
Some churches have their congregation participate with service projects, leadership opportunities, speaking engagements, and musical performances.
6. A Sense of Purpose
Spirituality often gives individuals a sense of purpose in their lives. This can be from the belief of a higher power and from service or good deeds they perform as a result of their religious belief that Christlike service and fellowship are the true purposes of life.
Learn more about how church attendance can help provide a sense of purpose.
Spirituality and religion can help a person become more resilient when facing the most painful life experiences. A belief in the afterlife can make the death of a loved one more bearable.
Faith can often help individuals get through a health or financial crisis with more optimism and hope. There's a tendency to look for and find a lesson in the challenges of life, which can help reduce distress in times of crisis or tragedy.
8. Confidence and a Sense of Worth
Spirituality not only gives you a sense of purpose, but it can also give you a sense of empowerment and greater self-confidence. The belief that you come from a higher power and were created with a purpose can lead you to set higher goals.
For many, the belief that they're a child of God gives them the courage or faith to try things they'd never believe were possible otherwise.
Priorities and goals may be easier to determine and more centered on fulfilling one's potential rather than obtaining worldly power or possessions. The difference in priorities and focus can bring a sense of peace and contentment in life that allows growth in personal areas, rather than always seeking approval from people.
9. A More Compassionate and Optimistic View
Those who have a strong spiritual base will often be more compassionate and optimistic in their view of life and the world. Someone who's truly trying to live a more Christlike life will have increased empathy and compassion for their fellow man and see the world with a more optimistic and loving view.
They'll often be the first to offer a helping hand and tend to be more willing to serve and help because of a sense of duty to another and to their maker.
Attending Church Can Make Every Day Better
Attending church doesn't just have benefits on Sundays. It can have positive effects and benefits in every aspect of your life if you make a commitment and find a community with spiritual beliefs you feel connected to.
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