Did you know participating in a spiritual community is good for you? In fact, attending a faith-based service of your choice four times a month can add up to 14 years to your lifespan! Blue Zones® researchers discovered that people who are the healthiest and who live the longest all seem to have a strong sense of belonging and purpose. It’s so important that it’s a Power 9® - one of nine healthy lifestyle habits shared by the people in the five original Blue Zones areas who’ve lived healthier and happier, longer. For many, a sense of belonging comes from spiritual or religious practice.
Participating in faith-based services boosts well-being
The simple act of regularly attending a religious service is a common thread among cultures with the longest life spans. It doesn’t matter which faith you are; attending a faith-based service, even just once a month, seems to have a positive effect on one’s overall health and happiness.
A study in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior discovered that those who attended regular religious services at least once per month had a longer life expectancy than those who did not. It seems that people who nourish their spiritual side lower their risk of heart disease, depression, and stress, while increasing their immunity.
Why is going to a faith-based service so good for your health?
1. Provides a Big, Social Network. Friends are an important part of enjoying a healthy, happy life. People who attend faith-based services have a big social network and a regular meeting place. Weekly meetings with friends are a great way to talk, connect, relieve stress, and have a good time. It also means being there for others in their time of need. Participating in a religious community is a great way to connect, bond, and share life’s ups and downs.
2. Encourages Positive Behaviors. People who attend faith-based services tend to be more physically active and may be less likely to indulge in unhealthy behaviors like excessive drinking, smoking, and using illegal drugs. Religious services offer a regularly scheduled time to slow down and reflect.
3. Creates a Sanctuary in Time. Taking a weekly break from the rigors of daily life is a great way to relieve stress and strengthen your social networks with loved ones. It offers a time to turn off the TV, not think about work or school, and spend time with the people who are important to you. It’s a great way to down shift by taking some time for yourself to slow down and rejuvenate.
4. Supports a Sense of Purpose. Religion encourages positive behaviors and expectations. When people act in accordance with their beliefs and values, they feel good about themselves and are more likely to feel a sense of pride and purpose in their daily lives.
Ask the Expert
Q: I’m not really interested in organized religion. Is there a way to connect with my spiritual side without going to church?
A: You don’t have to attend church to connect with your spiritual side, but you should set aside some time for yourself. Making time for your spiritual side creates a space for you to slow down. Practices like yoga or meditation can give you a break from the nonstop, internal chatter that goes on in the mind. Being active outside is also a great way to relieve stress and reconnect with your spiritual side.
Establish time to “Belong” with friends or family using this handy, customizable invitation: