Winter is coming
It wouldn’t be the first place you’ve heard that more people tend to get sick during the cold, winter months. But as believers, we have the opportunity to be in the world but not of it. Meaning we can work towards strengthening our immune system without also participating in the dread and anxiety of what sniffles and coughs the winter season might bring. We know that God gave us our bodies to steward, but we also know that there’s a level of surrender and trust with everything. God’s design is intelligent, and He gives us many ways to keep our bodies healthy physically, mentally and spiritually. These next few paragraphs will be on a few of those ways and ways I feel that are amongst the most important to consider.
1. Prioritize prayer and community
When considering our health, it would be silly to only think physical ways to stay healthy because we are spiritual beings—made by God and for God and fulfilled only by God. We have access to prayer, a powerful weapon, and know that God cares for us and holds our lives in his hands.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6 (NIV)
The Bible is clear in what it says about community. It’s vital, and we must not forsake it. These are the people that are there when we go through our darkest moments, encouraging us and letting us borrow the hope we need to move on. These are the people that bring you a meal when you’re a mom or dad that’s too tired to cook, and the ones that reach out randomly to check in to see how you’re doing. These are the people that love you where you’re at and pray for you. We were not designed to live in isolation, therefore we do not flourish in isolation. Thoughts can too quickly turn to strongholds—worries can too quickly turn to hopelessness, etc. Let’s not forsake it when we need it most.
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily” Acts 2:42-47 (NIV)
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV)
2. Get outside
Yes, it’s colder but not every day is below 0 and most days the sun is still shining. Just as with everything God created, the sun was created not only to give us light but health. And the fresh air! It’s amazing what it will do not only for our immune system but for our mood. Sometimes it’s just what we need to break a bad mindset or pull us out of a funk.
The best times to get outside is right away in the morning when the sun rises and when the sun is setting. This will do wonders for your circadian rhythm, and there’s just something about spending more time in nature. It makes us more aware of how small we are and how big our God is.
3. Whole Foods
This means less processed and packaged foods with added sugars and more whole, fresh foods. This doesn’t mean that if you eat out for every meal, you need to immediately eat at home all meals. We want the goal to be obtainable and sustainable to make a lasting effect on our health. So maybe you start with packing your own lunch or cooking two meals at home for dinner packed with nutritious ingredients (think chili, pot roast, steak and mashed potatoes, all the warm, feel good meals!). This is a great start!
*Tip: When going to the grocery store, shop along the outside walls. The inside aisles are the ones that contain all the packaged foods and where ingredients become questionable.
Drink water. You should always be properly hydrating yourself but especially when you are trying to stay well. Our bodies are made up of an average of 60% of water which means that water is vital for health and many bodily functions. And if it’s feasible, drink less tap water. You can research this on your own but a lot of tap water is full of stuff you don’t want to drink (like chlorine, fluoride, etc). There are very pricier filters but there are also filters like Brita that are very affordable.
*Tip: Add a sprinkle of good quality salt to properly hydrate and allow the body to absorb necessary minerals.
5. A good night of rest
And all the moms and dads and hard workers go, “Yeahhhhhhhh, easier said than done”. But seriously it’s possible and necessary to prioritize this. As you’ve heard, even God had a day he rested—which means that we definitely need our rest, too. Yes, there will be seasons where you’re going to get less sleep, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still make small moves towards sleeping more soundly at night.
If you are a night owl, start by going to bed a little earlier than you did the night before. Another piece to consider that I’m sure we’ve all heard is to limit phone use around bed time. The blue light emitted by phones effects the circadian rhythm by restraining the body’s production of melatonin. A great goal would be to stop all phone use around 8:00 pm to allow your body to wind down and prepare for sleep. In addition to bettering sleep, this will create space for you to be more present with your loved ones. As said in the first point, we were made for community and face to face interaction with other humans—the internet will never fill that void or come even close to it. It’s a hard habit to break but well worth it.
*Tip: There are several restrictions you can put on your phone—from time limits to changing the color of your screen to not be as bright. Set a maximum time limit on your social media and do your best to stick with it and not just override the time limit.
“Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.” Luke 12:22-23 (NIV)
With all that being said, stress all plays a factor into our health so do your best to not stress over making healthier decisions. It can and should be fun, and your body will start to thank you for the nourishment which will make you want to continue on.
And last, speaking from experience, it’s easy to let health and wellness become an idol and look to the wrong places for help. So we pray against that and look for a balance directed by the Lord. We can’t be perfect, but we can be good stewards and take care of our bodies—also while remembering that we don’t need anything more than we need God and His presence in our lives. Knowing God as our Father, Christ as our Savior, and being empowered by the Holy Spirit is the piece to the puzzle we can’t miss when considering our health.
“Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.” 3 John 1:2 (NIV)
May you be healthy in mind, body, and spirit
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