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To Reduce Stress Think about God

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2010-08-06 02:38

If you want to reduce your stress level and feel less upset, perhaps you should think about God. Investigators at the University of Toronto Scarborough found that when people think about God and religion, their brains respond in ways that allows them to react with less distress.

Stress, Religion and God

The physiological and psychological impacts of stress are well known and range from depression and anxiety disorders to gastrointestinal problems, high blood pressure, sexual dysfunction, hair loss, obesity, and diabetes, among others. Findings effective ways to help people cope with or manage stress, therefore, is an important goal.

Given that 85 percent of people in the world have some type of religious belief system, Michael Inzlicht, assistant psychology professor, and Alexa Tullet of the University of Toronto Scarborough decided to uncover what functions such beliefs might serve. Therefore they conducted experiments to determine what occurs in the brain when people think about religion and God.

The researchers asked participants to either write about religion or do a scrambled word task that included words related to religion and God. After these tasks were completed, the investigators recorded the brain wave activity of each participant as he or she completed a computerized task that was selected because it has a high rate of errors.

The results of the recordings showed that individuals who had been prompted to think about God and religion either consciously or unconsciously had decreased brain activity in the anterior cingulated cortex (ACC), an area associated with regulating arousal and alerting individuals when they make mistakes. In other words, thinking about religion and God allowed them to react with less distress to mistakes that provoke anxiety and stress.

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