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No wonder I’m so easily frazzled! Non-believers may want to congregate over chamomile tea and an aromatherapy candle this week, with news that faith in God blocks anxiety and minimizes stress.
In two studies at the University of Toronto, participants performed a Stroop task – a known evaluation of cognitive control – and were hooked up to electrodes measuring brain activity. The stronger the religious zeal, the calmer their brain waves were in responding to stressful situations or anxiety-producing events.
“We found that religious people or even people who simply believe in the existence of God show significantly less brain activity in relation to their own errors,” says lead author Michael Inzlicht, from the University of Toronto Scarborough. They’re much less anxious and feel less stressed when they have made an error.”
The findings may show that religious belief has a calming effect on devotees, which makes them less likely to feel anxious about making errors or facing the unknown. But should that really be a surprise? It would be a lot easier to avoid anxiety if you blamed unfortunate events and your own mistakes on God’s master-plan, wouldn’t it? Still – an interesting example of the overlap between health and faith, and another stress relief technique to consider…
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