By Jason Lewis (Contributor)
There are many reasons we love going to church. Spending time with neighbors and friends that share our same values, unplugging from the outside world for a bit and connecting with spirituality are just some of the reasons to enjoy it. And as it turns out, those reasons have more power than we initially realized. Going to church doesn’t just make our lives better, it also helps us live longer.
Going to church can help in the following ways:
- The community you find in spiritual congregations is generally filled with good influences and encouragement for a healthy lifestyle overall.
- It helps you establish a routine while instilling discipline as well as accountability.
- Spirituality promotes selflessness and goodwill.
- It gives you motivation to do what is right.
- Going to church gives you a chance to reflect back on your own actions and thoughts to help fortify your identity and build self-esteem.
- Spending time in a place of worship can drastically reduce stress. After a service, you can feel lighter, more confident and ready to face your week.
Senior Isolation and the Health Benefits of Church.
Seniors, in particular, can benefit from the longevity benefits of spiritual congregation. Senior loneliness is a serious issue. According to a survey conducted by the University of California, San Francisco, more than 40 percent of seniors experience isolation on a regular basis. In the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Theresa May recently appointed a minister for loneliness to help create state programs that help combat the problem.
Senior loneliness negatively affects both physical and mental health while increasing the risk of mortality. Social isolation is also connected to illnesses and conditions such as high blood pressure, chronic lung disease, arthritis, impaired mobility and depression. Furthermore, lonely people are more likely to participate in destructive behaviors such as drug and alcohol abuse, which are even more problematic if the person has a history of addiction and substance abuse.
Attending church services helps prevent senior isolation and the negative effects that accompany it. As DrugRehab notes, “It can be difficult to make ourselves focus on the here and now, especially if we’re going through a transition as life-changing as addiction recovery. But taking even a few minutes a day to be mindful of all we have in the present moment – and especially all we have to be grateful for – can help us feel more at peace with ourselves, our surroundings, and our circumstances.” Church gives us that opportunity to be grateful, mindful and presence. Furthermore, it gives us a community in which we feel included and useful.
How Church Improves the Lives of Seniors:
- Religious services encourage us to make positive changes for a happier and healthier life. From holding grudges against others to smoking, seniors are encouraged to give up the things that are detrimental to their overall health.
- People who go to church have a more positive mood and outlook overall. Church promotes optimism and positivity overall. People who have an optimistic outlook about life and illness are happier and have better recoveries.
- The community churchgoers experience helps prevent isolation, loneliness and the negative symptoms of the two. Having a social identity and a sense of belonging increases life satisfaction.
- From making it to Sunday services to volunteering throughout the week, church helps keep seniors physically active. Many larger churches also offer clubs and social nights for seniors to dance, play games and do other activities that help strengthen their minds and bodies.
Going to church isn’t just enjoyable, but it can improve your health and help you live longer. Seniors experiencing isolation can benefit from the health boosts church provides. From granting a sense of purpose to physical activity, spending time with a spiritual community improves the mental and physical health of seniors.
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