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Faith and stress


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#1 Vampchick21

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Posted 06 March 2009 - 09:24 PM

I just came across this article in the online version of the Toronto Star (health section) and thought it very interesting.

Stressed out? Have a little faith
Religious students remain calmer in face of errors, study shows
March 5, 2009

Strong religious convictions can lower stress and enhance the performance of basic tasks, a team of Toronto researchers has found.

They came to that conclusion after putting 28 of their students through tests measuring both their religious fervour and their stress at making mistakes on a test.

"The more religious they were, the less brain activity they showed in response to their own errors," says University of Toronto assistant psychology professor Michael Inzlicht, lead author of the study in Psychological Science. "They are calmer when they make errors."

The students, from a variety of backgrounds including Christian, Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist, were asked how much they agreed that their religion was based on objective truth, whether they would go to war for their faith, and other such statements.

The more they agreed, the more religious they were deemed to be.

The students were then given a Stroop test, in which they were told to identify the colour in which various words are written. The words themselves were the names of colours, though the names did not always match the colour of the type.

The word "yellow," for instance, might appear in red, causing stress as the brain sorts through conflicting signals. Brain functions were measured throughout the test.

The religious students showed significantly less activity in the anterior cingulate cortex, a portion of the brain that signals when attention and control are needed, usually due to an anxiety-producing event.

Inzlicht says religious people have a belief system to help them make sense of the world, so can better accept the occasional mistake.

"It lowers uncertainty," he says. "And when you don't have that uncertainty and you make an error, you just say, `Okay, that's the way the world is.'"

Inzlicht calls anxiety a "double-edged sword." While it can be a good thing to feel less stress, anxiety also pushes us to correct our mistakes and remain productive. The key, he says, is to find the right balance.

"We need anxiety to get us up in the morning, but too much of it can be paralyzing," he says.


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#2 cotton08

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Posted 06 March 2009 - 09:29 PM

....I'll go along with that!

#3 Vampchick21

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Posted 06 March 2009 - 09:31 PM

It makes sense to me. My late grandfather was an Anglican minister and just about the least stressed out human being I have EVER encountered and probably ever will.

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#4 Laurie Ann

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Posted 06 March 2009 - 11:16 PM

~I have to admit that I never used to be a very spiritual person...trust me, I wasn't. But when Todd got sick, I found a way to communicate to God in a way other than "please God, don't let them arrest me" kinda talk. When I seriously set out to have a one-on-one chat with the "Man Himself", I can feel one load at a time come off of my shoulders. There's definate truth of the findings in that article. I just have a more clearer sense of calmness.....and it helps.
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#5 Vampchick21

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Posted 07 March 2009 - 08:32 AM

Exactly. I know when I start stressing and freaking out over things that if I turn to one of the deities that I worship whom I think would be the most appropriate to help me in whatever problem that's got me all flustered that I do feel lighter and better afterwards. Maybe it's not so much accepting as suggested in the article and more along the lines of having 'someone' to talk to that you can totally trust? The idea that someone has your back in a way? I mean, we feel stronger and better facing something with someone standing by us (like my cousin literally holding my hand while I sit in the dentist chair), so it certainly makes sense that those of us with deep beliefs on the spiritual level gain a sense of calm by tapping into our omnipotent deity(s) and the beliefs we surround him/her/them with.

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#6 MoonChild

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Posted 07 March 2009 - 10:37 AM

Faith - is a strong thing to have, because faith also means we are aware of the higher (or deciding) energies. Faith enables us to surrender, faith enables us to reach out, faith enables us to understand the bigger picture, the bigger playground.
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#7 chestnut

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Posted 07 March 2009 - 11:04 AM

I love that phrase, Moonie, "the bigger playground."




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