It has been cold this week! All over Illinois, schools have closed, people have stayed indoors; everyone is trying to just keep warm. Local television and radio stations are reporting both the dangers of these temperatures and various approaches to mitigating risks and possible negative impacts on our health. They advise putting on layers of clothes, wearing a hat, and staying dry, among other suggestions.
The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) has asked individuals to make frequent checks on elderly neighbors and family members and to volunteer to help.
Ehow.com even gave easy instructions on how to visit someone during these cold snaps. They mentioned:
· Call first
· Organize a phone system with neighbors
· Take over some easy-to-heat-up food
· Offer to run errands
These go beyond just checking on an individual’s physical well-being, to becoming opportunities to bring cheerfulness, compassion, even a laugh or two. Isolation can be a challenge with negative health consequences especially for the elderly, and bitter cold exacerbates it.
“Your smile makes me feel warm inside!” an elderly woman once told me on a very cold day when I was visiting a local county nursing home. While her physical needs were being well taken care of, she needed a smile to help her feel “warm all over”, she explained.
There are many health benefits to sharing our love with another. According to award winning author and journalist Lisa Collier Cool, writing for Yahoo Health, “If a growing body of research is to be believed, love can lengthen your life, ward off stress, boost your immune system, lower your blood pressure, protect you from colds and flu, blunt your response to pain, hasten wound healing, and lower your risk of dementia in old age.”
It’s amazing what love can do!
In his book Healing Words, Dr. Larry Dossey, M.D. says this about the health wonders of love: “If scientists suddenly discovered a drug that was as powerful as love in creating health, it would be heralded as a medical breakthrough and marketed overnight – especially if it had as few side effects and was as inexpensive as love.”
He continued, “This is not sentimental exaggeration. One survey of ten thousand men with heart disease found a 50 percent reduction in frequency of chest pain (angina) in men who perceived their wives as supportive and loving” (Healing Words, p. 109).
While the health benefits of human love are now being researched and observed, for millennia many individuals have been espousing the health benefits of a power greater than human love - divine Love. The Bible speaks often of the “tender mercies” of God and their results. David wrote, “Let thy tender mercies come unto me, that I may live” (Ps. 119: 77).
Christian healer, Mary Baker Eddy, who spent much of her life healing others through prayer and writing of her findings, knew the importance to her healing practice of both God’s love and human affection. She wrote, “The poor suffering heart needs its rightful nutriment, such as peace, patience in tribulation, and a priceless sense of the dear Father’s loving-kindness” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 365-366). She reasoned that our human expression of love is more powerful if it is acknowledged as an outcome of the love of God for both the giver and the receiver.
So give someone a call. Take someone a meal. Let your love make someone else feel “warm inside” – especially when it is cold outside!
Thomas (Tim) Mitchinson is a self-syndicated columnist writing on the relationship between thought, spirituality and health, and trends in that field. He is also the media spokesman for Christian Science in Illinois. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.