The Power of Purpose


Hi friends, Hope you all are having a great week. We are creeping towards spring and will hopefully defeat that SAD many of us are feeling this time of the year.

But, something has been consistently coming up my conversations lately and my heart felt called to write something and share it with you. Let's chat about the power of purpose and the large scale mental health crisis we are seeing. 

Depression is a pervasive mental health challenge, affecting millions globally. While treatments abound, a fascinating avenue of research has emerged: the relationship between depression and a sense of purpose or meaning in life. Let's delve into the science-backed connection between purpose and mental health, citing studies that illuminate this crucial link.

The Correlation Between Purpose and Mental Health:
Recent studies underscore the profound impact of purpose on mental well-being. In a groundbreaking longitudinal study published in the *Journal of Abnormal Psychology*, researchers tracked individuals over time, discovering that those with a strong sense of purpose exhibited lower rates of depression symptoms. This correlation highlights purpose as a protective factor against depression.

Purpose as a Buffer Against Stress:
Beyond correlation, research demonstrates purpose's role as a buffer against stress, a significant precursor to depression. A study by Hill and colleagues (2019) in *Psychological Science* revealed that individuals with a sense of purpose experienced lower cortisol levels, the body's stress hormone, indicating better stress resilience. This suggests that purpose fosters psychological resilience, mitigating depression risk.

Understanding the Neurobiological Mechanisms:
Neurobiological investigations illuminate how purpose shapes brain function and emotional well-being. Neuroscientists, including Dr. Patricia Boyle at Rush University, have identified that purposeful living correlates with reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease and cognitive decline. Functional MRI studies demonstrate that engaging in purpose-driven activities activates brain regions associated with reward and positive emotion, providing biological insights into purpose's antidepressant effects.

Interventions Targeting Purpose:
Therapeutic interventions leveraging purpose have shown promise in depression treatment. The *Purpose in Life Test* (PIL), developed by Dr. Carol Ryff, assesses an individual's sense of purpose and its impact on psychological well-being. Additionally, interventions like Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) integrate purpose-driven goal-setting to enhance resilience and reduce depressive symptoms.

In the quest to combat depression, science has unveiled a potent ally: purpose! 

This work is so fascinating to me because the pull of passion and purpose had plagued me for most of my adult life.

For as long as I can remember, I had always felt called to serve other people. Maybe it's the empath in me, or maybe its part of being a middle child haha, but once I became an adult I shied away from my inner voice pulling me towards people in a way of service and health because I was just too busy. We all can relate right?! After years of this, I was only able to become in tune with that inner voice after becoming a parent. The feeling of aligning myself with my true purpose seemed to weigh on me daily, and the more I pulled away from it the deeper the discontent became in my soul.

Starting a|dash was the first time in a long time that I felt like I was honoring that voice and that inner pull towards my purpose. So, my hope for anyone who took the time to read this is that this can encourage you to lean into your purpose, not in a sense of you needing to switch careers or make major life changes, but to actually listen to your inner voice and start living a life that aligns with you and what you have always felt called too. Can't wait to see what that means for you all in our community. 

Be well, 


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