Article originally published in Free Press Journal.
Religion is an organised collection of beliefs, cultural systems, and world views that relate humanity to an order of existence and spirituality are the quality of being concerned with the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things.
Spiritual and religious people find various ways to manage the stressful events in their lives by praying, attending religious services, communicating with people who share similar beliefs, meditating, making art or music, being with nature, etc. Many people view the term "spirituality" as the more all-encompassing term. Spirituality reduces stress, by allowing a person to:
Sense of quiet, stillness, and peace:
We spend so much time rushing and trying to get things accomplished. Practising spirituality provides us with a quiet breather from all the rushing around. Time spent meditating, praying, or appreciating what is around and within us in that given moment allows us to disconnect from and find perspective on stress-causing events, enhance our admiration for the amazing world around us.
Give up control:
Believing in something greater than ourselves allows us to realize that we aren't responsible for everything that is happening in our lives. All things good or bad will happen no matter what. Spirituality allows us to release the need to always blame ourselves for bad times and constantly strive to achieve good results.
Sense of connectedness:
Feeling a part of something greater than ourselves makes us feel less isolated and alone. People who belong to religious and/or spiritual groups receive social support. Most stress events seem smaller and easy to deal with when we know that we belong to a higher power or the universe which can offer acceptance, solace, strength and possibly also solutions.
Sense of purpose:
Most of us have spent some time wondering what life is "all about." People who think that meetings, daily chores, and the "rat race" is all that there is to life frequently start to feel depressed and stressed. The enhanced sense of connectedness and increased sense of meaning derived from spiritual practices allow us to look beyond ourselves, which increases our sense of responsibility for our society at large and the universe.
Spirituality helps us to minimize hurdles that seem impossible into something approaching a manageable size. Spirituality helps us clarifying our core values, and focus on goals that are important, rather than goals or circumstances that are truly unimportant.