“Joy to the world! The Lord is come. Let earth receive her king. Let every heart prepare Him room and heaven and nature sing….”
It is the final week of Advent, and Christmas is almost here. Today, we celebrate joy. I know I often let the weight of the world press down on my shoulders. I struggle to celebrate amidst all the pain, sorrow, and injustice of the world. I let my schedule get saturated, I stress about work, family, friends…I even stress about being healthy. Did I get enough vegetables today? Am I getting enough exercise? Should I eat this dessert? What is the right thing to do?
These are important questions to ask, but the problem with stressing about health is that stress is detrimental to health. The mind-body-spirit connection is so important in part because the state of the mind and spirit really do affect the state of the body. According to a study at the University of Maryland, “laughter, along with an active sense of humor, may help protect you against a heart attack.” Eating healthy foods, exercise, and the like are important, but joy can be added to the list of preventative measures that can be taken to improve health.
As we set aside time to celebrate and embrace joy this Christmas, remember that although there are many holiday traditions that are unhealthy, a joyful spirit and a positive attitude can go a long way toward promoting good health. In the same study from the University of Maryland, the director of the Center for Preventative Cardiology suggests incorporating laughter into our daily activities, just as we do with other heart-healthy activities, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
“We could perhaps read something humorous or watch a funny video and try to find ways to take ourselves less seriously,” Miller says. “The recommendation for a healthy heart may one day be exercise, eat right and laugh a few times a day.”
I pray your holiday season is full of love, laughter and joy, and that this positive energy continues into the new year. Joy to the world!