Religion. For many, it’s a very critical part of who they are and what they believe. It defines how they interpret what is happening to them now and how they foresee the future. For many, it provides hope that there’s a better life awaiting them beyond their current existence. In a true, prolonged grid-down situation, religion will play a vital role for many enabling them to push through the times of hardship they’ll face.
In this blog, we’ll look at 6 ways religion will be a foundational part of what keeps many going.
Before we venture into this article, let us start off by saying that this article will not elevate any one religious belief over another or cast a negative light on those with agnostic or atheistic views. We’ve never shared our personal beliefs on religion on this channel before as we find people get hung up when they find out your beliefs and then tend to cast judgment when it doesn’t line up with their own personal views making it hard to listen to anything else you have to say even if it’s factually true. Studies have shown that religion and politics are closely linked to the part of the brain that is connected with your identity. As such, people tend to become defensive when others express views that contradict their own.
For many, religion is a very core, foundational part of who they are. As such, when the grid goes down, many will find religion extremely useful in navigating the challenges that they’ll face.
1) How religion can help with depression
It’s not uncommon for people to feel depressed during a collapse since the life that they used to enjoy and live no longer exists. Take for example the collapse of the USSR, in which many turned to drinking as the state had collapsed, the very thing that had defined their existence. A dire situation can cause many people to lose hope and unable to function properly. Getting them out of that state of mind, a state of hopelessness will be critical and religion for some will be able to help.
Religion’s effect on mental health
According to a 2015 article from Live Science, religions actually have an impact on a person’s mental health. Numerous studies have shown that religions can have both a positive and negative effect on a person’s mental well-being. It can increase or decrease depression and anxiety that a person is feeling because of a situation they’re facing. If people view their religion in a kind, loving, and supportive nature, they’re less likely to feel depressed or anxious, even in a stressful or dire situation compared to people who are not religious. One major reason for this is that religion gives purpose and meaning to a person’s life. It helps them to find a way to process the events surrounding them in order to help them understand and make sense of why bad things are happening and provide them with a way to cope with it.
Another study showed that religious practices also help make the brain’s cortices thicker, which usually thins when people are experiencing depression. This study shows that positive religious beliefs actually have a beneficial effect on a person’s brain activity.
But religion not only serves as a buffer to counter stressful situations. A 2013 study showed that patients who were experiencing mental illness respond better to treatment if they have a strong faith and positive religious beliefs. People who believe in a “Higher Power” tend to also believe in the treatment that they are getting, thus allowing them to fully experience the positive effects of the treatment.
The key here, though, is positive religious beliefs since the study also showed that negative religious beliefs like viewing a dire situation as a punishment from the “Higher Power” tend to increase the risk of depression and anxiety. So it’s important that religion in a grid-down scenario should instill hope and positive beliefs, otherwise it has the potential to create a view that individuals are being punished.
2) The power of prayer
One of the main religious activities that can help during a disaster is prayer. Whenever a tragedy strikes, it is common to see individuals post on social media “thoughts and prayers.” And there’s a reason for this since prayers tend to provide benefits to those praying.
How prayers can be helpful
There are several studies that show how prayer is beneficial to a person’s overall well-being when they pray. People who pray frequently, especially if it’s for others, feel less stressed and anxious when faced with problems, such as financial problems, for example. Those who regularly prayed also have a sense of purpose in their life, resulting in better psychological well-being. However, similar to what I mentioned earlier, those who experienced positive results from prayer are the people who also have positive religious beliefs. If people view the “Higher Power” as caring and loving, prayer will have a positive effect on them. But if they view their religion as detached or unresponsive, then prayer will be harmful instead of helpful.
A study also showed that prayer improves a person’s capacity to handle anxiety because it can help them focus better. Participants of the study were broken into 4 groups. The first was asked to think about a life concern, the 2nd group was asked to spend 10 minutes praying about that concern while a 3rd group spent 10 minutes just thinking about it. A 4th group was asked to solve a puzzle for 10 minutes. Researchers found that people who prayed had better cognitive performance compared to those who thought about the concern or distracted themselves with the puzzle. The study revealed that prayer helps eliminate negative thoughts that usually distracts people from focusing on more important things and activities.
Basically, prayer can help people unload a heavy emotional and mental burden they are feeling. Praying to a “Higher Power” gives people hope that things could soon turn out for the better. At the very least, having someone you can trust and rely on with your problems is a great way to unburden yourself from the mental and emotional pressure and free your mind to focus on more important tasks. This makes prayer a great activity for people to lessen their depression and anxiety during a grid-down scenario.
3) Building a stronger community
Another way that religion can help during a collapse is by building a stronger community. About 80% of the world’s population identifies with a certain religion, which makes it an important part of most people’s lives.
It’s not uncommon to see symbols of faith found in many cities around the world, from small churches and temples to grand mosques and cathedrals. Religious activities also bring together people from different races, countries, and backgrounds to celebrate, mourn, reflect, and worship. One example of a religious activity that brings people together is All Soul’s Day, which is a Roman Catholic tradition to commemorate the “faithfully” departed. This activity is celebrated by Catholics from all over the world. Another example is Ramadan, which is the most sacred month of the year in Islam in which Muslims from all over the world fast and abstains from pleasures and pray.
But religions don’t only bring people together during religious activities. Religions, in general, can help strengthen social bonds. A study from the Santa Fe Institute looked at how religion strengthened the social bonds of a community. The study showed that people who participate in religious activities on a regular basis are viewed as more generous and trustworthy. Though the study noted that this would mean they’re often asked for support, it also means they can easily draw support from others as well.
How a religious community can help during a collapse
This aspect of religion is going to be beneficial in a SHTF scenario since building a strong community will be critical during a prolonged collapse. A religion could get people within a community to trust and support one another during this trying time. But aside from banding people together and help one another, religions can also help fill the gaps that governments and charitable organizations are unable to consistently provide in their disaster relief plans. Like providing a network of support to help the affected people cope with the disaster or actually being on the ground and helping people rebuild their community.
The role of the religious leader
Religious leaders are typically considered the most respected and trusted individual in a religious community. Leaders like pastors, monks, shamans, imams, and priests, among others, play an important role since they can influence people’s opinions, behaviors, and attitudes. In fact, even some political leaders listen and respect what religious leaders have to say.
People have immense trust in religious leaders, which is why they listen and usually follow the advice given to them. It also helps that religious leaders live within the community that they serve, allowing them to interact and communicate regularly with the people, making it easier for everyone to trust them. This is how a religious leader can shape how people think, the values that they will believe in, and even increase awareness about certain issues or causes.
How religious leaders can help during a disaster
The influence that religious leaders have on the community will play a major role during a prolonged SHTF scenario.
The main thing that leaders can provide during a disaster is to make sure that people in their community will not lose hope in times of crisis. As already mentioned earlier, depression and anxiety will be common during a collapse and religion’s role here is to help people deal with their emotional and mental issues and not to give in to their weaknesses. This is where religious leaders come in since people will be looking to them for guidance and support. It’s critical that they make sure people don’t lose hope since the community’s survival will greatly depend on people’s ability to overcome their emotions in this situation.
4) The benefits of mediation
Many religions use some form of meditation in their religious activities. But before we discuss how it helps, let’s first differentiate it from prayer since the two are actually unique in their own way.
Mediation is defined as a mental exercise that can help people focus, relax, and be more aware of the present. It is basically a means of transforming the mind. Prayer, on the other hand, is a communication process that provides individuals with a feeling that they are able to talk to a “Higher Power”. It is basically an individual’s own personal way of talking and conversing with God. Looking at the definition, the main difference between the two is that meditation is focused more on what’s inside of someone while prayer is directed at a “Higher Power”. Certain religions view meditation as listening to God while prayer as talking to God.
Though the two are different, they also share similarities, particularly in the benefits that they provide. Meditation can also help people control their emotions and mind, especially in dealing with depression and anxiety. Meditation is also known to improve your attention span and can help in sleeping soundly, which is important during a grid-down scenario.
5) Asking for forgiveness
Religions can also be helpful for people who are looking to ask for forgiveness. During a grid-down scenario, numerous people will likely do things that they wouldn’t usually do when things are normal like stealing supplies, taking advantage of people, and even killing. Having the opportunity to ask for forgiveness during this time will be very important for people.
Why it’s important to ask for forgiveness
If you are not used to committing crimes or doing bad things, you’ll instantly regret doing it in the first place. And that regret can linger and greatly affect your psychological well-being. For example, if you were forced into a lethal situation requiring you to dispatch an assailant who broke into your home and threaten your family while trying to steal supplies critical for your survival, you may have a sense of guilt or remorse. Though you are only trying to protect yourself and your family, it’s not unusual if you’ll regret your decision, especially if you knew the person. This is where asking for forgiveness can come in since apologizing can help you let go of that regret. When you apologize and let go, you’re not only asking for forgiveness from the person you have wronged, but you’re also forgiving yourself. This will be a huge relief to help lift a burden off your shoulders.
How religion can help in asking for forgiveness
Forgiveness is one of the oldest teachings in religions like Christianity, Confucianism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam. It also has a positive presence in these religions, enabling followers to offload feelings of guilt or shame.
Having a religion that teaches the value of forgiveness which also offers the ability to confess or having available religious leaders that people can talk to will be helpful after a disaster or in a prolonged grid-down scenario. It will be hard for people to avoid doing things that they’ll regret, so having a religion present and functioning can help ease the psychological burden that they’re feeling. This is especially true if you can’t personally ask for forgiveness from the person you wronged. Talking to a religious leader and letting it all out can be beneficial.
6) Having a hope of something beyond this life
The last way that religion can help after a grid-down scenario is that it can provide hope. Not only hope that things will soon be better but the hope that there is more beyond this current life that we are living in.
I’ve already been discussing throughout the article how religion can help bring hope to people who are suffering from depression or anxiety during a disaster or crisis. However, the hope that religion brings is not only limited to how things will soon be more positive in our current life but also providing followers a belief that there is something better waiting in the afterlife if they follow their religious teachings.
Mainstream religions believe in the afterlife, though they may have different interpretations of what happens after we die. For the majority of the mainstream religions (but not all of them), the belief in the afterlife centers on Heaven and Hell. Heaven is viewed as the reward for living a good life after they die, while Hell is the place of punishment that people who are bad will go to when they die. Some Christians also believe in Purgatory, which is a place that exists between Heaven and Hell.
Death is an inevitable fate we all face and there’s no verifiable documented information detailing what happens to our soul after we die. Believing that there is more to life after you die will be helpful in accepting the inevitable. This is also true during a grid-down scenario, where the risks of death are even higher compared to when things are normal.
Having people believe that death is not really the end of their journey, but the beginning of a new one will make it easier to accept and deal with the hopelessness that a SHTF scenario brings, especially when forced into situations that could be lethal. It gives people hope that the end of the world is not really the end since there’s more to our existence than just the time we have on this Earth.
A prolonged grid-down scenario will be a miserable place to live in for most people, especially those not prepared. Depression, anxiety, and hopelessness will be common and one way to keep people sane during this trying time will be through religion.
Religions will play a critical role in a prolonged collapse since they can provide mental, emotional and spiritual support to motivate people to keep on going despite the hardships and challenges.
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As always, stay safe out there.