by Gutman Locks
People who are religious are healthier and take fewer sick days. They are also less stressed and anxious at work. Experts believe this could be because spirituality offers a ‘buffer against strains’ of modern life.
A psychologist at the Health and Safety Laboratory in Stockport found that the more religious a person is, the less likely they are to suffer from anxiety, depression or exhaustion. Dr Roxane Gervais also discovered that employees who are religious feel their lives have more meaning than those who are not.
They surveyed workers in a bid to discover how happy they are in their home and working lives. They found those who attend religious services feel more content within themselves and that they feel connected to a higher being.
They found: “As the pace of work and life accelerates, people long for meaning, and the younger generation in particular is looking for more than just a big pay check at the end of the month. The research shows that religiosity in the workplace may act as a resource, making people more resilient to cope with the many challenges of working life. Such personal beliefs could be very helpful not only for employees, but also for employers providing people with a buffer zone. As a result, employers should be encouraged to be understanding and supportive of their employees’ beliefs.”
The research comes just after it was revealed that people who have a spiritual side have a 'thicker' section of brain tissue than those who do not. The research, from Columbia University, also suggested that this thickening of the brain’s cortex could help to stave off depression. The study authors believe this could suggest being religious changes the structure of the brain in a way which reduces depression risk.
 Dr Gervais’ findings are to be presented at the Annual Conference of the British Psychological Society’s Division of Occupational Psychology’s in Brighton.