As the flu season approaches, we are going to hear a slough of ways we can avoid getting sick. Use hand sanitizer…ALWAYS. Sneeze the opposite direction of the crowds…got it. Don’t lick the inside of a hotel bedspread…tempting, but I’ll resist. It goes on and on and on.
But today I stumbled onto an article a friend posted from Weather.com that upended my sarcasm towards the sure-fire strategies of avoiding the flu. I was upended because it was so true of the life I currently live.
They argue that the #1 way to build your immune system is to be present in COMMUNITY. Here is what they say:
Research shows that the fewer human connections we have at home, at work, and in the community, the likelier we are to get sick, flood our brains with anxiety-causing chemicals, and live shorter lives than our more sociable peers. In one study, researchers who monitored 276 people between the ages of 18 and 55 found that those who had 6 or more connections were 4 times better at fighting off the viruses that cause colds than those with fewer friends.
What to do: Don’t let a jam-packed workday or hectic schedule get in the way of your friendships. Stop by a co-worker’s office for a quick Monday morning catch-up, or e-mail/text your friends at night to stay in touch when you’re too busy for phone calls.
Reflecting on our experience in Covenant Community (with NieuCommunities), I recently wrote this in our book Thin Places:
“God created men and women as communal creatures. In addition to being ontologically designed to be in union with the Creator, we were designed to be in communion with fellow humans and to the rest of the created order.”
We are hardwired for community. We can’t fully be human outside of it. And when we are outside of it, we not only expose ourselves to physical illness, we expose ourselves to the illness of disconnection with God, others and creation.
Let’s spend more time around the water cooler.