Modern society enjoys many conveniences, with technology simplifying many tasks and opening up communication across multiple borders. But despite these advances, it seems that people, in general, are more stressed, unhappy, and disconnected than ever. While there are many arguments about why this is the case, maybe now it’s best to focus on what to do about it.

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               Life Strategies for Happiness

Anxiety, sadness, loneliness, and similar feelings can sap your energy and decrease your motivation. While clinical depression requires professional treatment, there are several steps you can take to improve your mood:

• Spend time with friends
• Identify non-priority stressors
• Cut out unnecessary tasks
• Prioritize sleep and nutrition
• Get outside and start moving

Your personal list of “feel-good” activities may look different from your neighbor’s list, but there are sure to be several similarities. Prayer, for example, is one common practice that has proven effective for people from all walks of life. One expert on theology and mental health, Dr. Harold Koenig, said, “The combination of getting the best medical care and having a strong religious faith and prayer can lead to better mental and physical health.”

      Prayer and Your Mental Well-Being

It’s easy to see the link between daily prayer and improvements in mental health. Speaking to a higher power and putting faith in a loving God provides hope, reduces anxiety, and offers a sense of purpose to life’s challenges. During times of trial, such as pandemics, natural disasters, and wars, researchers notice a surge in the number of online searches for prayer. People all over the world are strengthened when sharing their concerns, fears, and worries with God. Parents, teachers, and caregivers have found that their emotional load is easier when they give up part of that load to One who is omnipotent and ever-present. Time spent in prayer and meditation also leads to a brighter outlook; these peaceful minutes of reflection and constructive thinking target the roots of anxiety and despair.

    Prayer and Improved Physical Strength

The connection between prayer and physical well-being may not be as obvious but is still powerful. At the very least, prayer relieves much of the stress and anxiety that are often linked to inactivity and obesity. Daily conversations with God decrease susceptibility to health conditions that are related to stress, including weakened immune systems and high blood pressure. Many individuals and families, and researchers, have also found that faith and prayer have a powerful role in reducing pain after medication procedures.

          A Combination of Faith and Action

It is an accepted fact that exercise is a vital component of healthy living. Even when time is tight, you may find ways to squeeze some added activity into your day, such as taking the stairs rather than using an elevator. Daily prayer is a habit that may require some added effort, as well. At first, you might just carve out a few moments before and after you get into and out of bed each day. Just as you start to recognize the benefits that come from increased activity and make movement a higher priority, you’ll realize the same from your spiritual exercises – spending more time when conversing with God and then pondering your thoughts and feelings that result from those meditations.

As you reflect on your own life and your trials and successes, take some moments to identify ways to improve your emotional and physical well-being. A combination of positive habits and daily spiritual reflection can help you gravitate toward the good in your life and increase your feelings of joy and peace.

Bio: Courtney Rosenfeld started Gig Spark to be a resource and the first step for people who are looking to join the gig economy, either to supplement their income or as a way to fulfill their dreams of becoming an entrepreneur.