In a few days, we will usher in the New Year 2020! I usually take time to do three things. Reflect on the current year – the highlights, the answered prayers, the lessons learned – and thank God for each of them. Review goals and activities to see whether they are worth continuing or stopping and sense if God is making new openings I need to enter into in the coming year. Remain in God’s presence with no other agenda but just to worship Him, especially ushering in the New Year this way. I enjoy these times so much. When I don’t get to do these for one reason or another, I miss it
How about you? How do you usually prepare for the New Year? Are you busy making preparations for the Media Noche feast you will have? Have you been accumulating firecrackers (for those outside Davao City) and noisemakers to usher in the New Year? Or do you still have hangover from the Christmas feasts and cannot think of another round of festivities? If you do not have much planned, I would like to suggest doing something differently to end the year 2019 and usher in 2020!
In Psalm 90:12, the Psalmist prays, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Taking time to reflect, review, and renew yourself by waiting on God in worship may help you to live with intentionality and purpose. Consider the following areas you may want to grow in and pursue for the NEW YEAR.
N – Nature. Studies have shown that taking a walk in the forest, being around trees and green spaces have many quantifiable health benefits. It boosts our immune system as we breathe in airborne chemicals that plants give off to protect themselves from insects and also protects our bodies. Being in nature lowers blood pressure as we are more relaxed, reduces stress, improves our mood and our sleep. Patients with “green view” also recover from surgery or illness faster. (For scientific research references, see https://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/90720.html). We have the benefit of having a lot of forest cover still in Mindanao that makes it easier to get away once in a while to be in nature. It is here that I discovered so late in life how invigorating it is to climb mountains, and my husband and I create opportunities to do it. Why not take advantage of it on a regular basis this coming year to refresh your body and soul?
E – Exercise. Dr. Robert Butler, founder of the National Institute on Aging, says, “If exercise could be purchased in a pill, it would be the single most widely prescribed and beneficial medicine in the nation.” The National Heart Association says that 30 minutes of walking or other moderate activity could help lower one’s risk from degenerative diseases. Their latest guideline based on research advises 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous ones or a mix of both spread-out over the course of the week. Regular exercise energizes our bodies and clears our minds. Being a bookworm, I got into doing aerobic exercise in my mid-30’s and did it on a regular basis to maintain health. But in my late 40s, my husband finally got me into playing basketball that increased my enjoyment and stamina a lot more. Recently, I came across several articles saying that more and more senior citizens are getting into sports, running marathons and triathlons late in life and are doing well! Keeping physically active does make one deal less with difficulties associated with ageing!
W – Worship. Worship is adoration of God, both personal and corporate. Development in neuroimaging technology and ECG that measures the electrical activity of the brain has shown the positive benefits of prayer, worship, and spirituality. Engaging in spiritual practices raises the level of endorphins and serotonin, the “happiness” neurotransmitter, and are associated with better health outcomes, faster recovery from illness (Mueller et al 2001), and less depression (Moreira-Almeida et al 2006). Local studies show that spirituality among youth are associated with prosocial behavior, positive character, altruism and improved decision-making (Batara 2015; Mansukhani and Resurreccion 2009; Ocampo et al. 2013), and ability to overcome challenging life experiences (Derbyshire 2014; Ladion 2007; Mansukhani and Resurreccion 2009). Studies on low-income mothers suggested that “those attending religious services frequently may help mothers to cope with stress, encourage mothers to be more involved in their child’s life, and increase social control for children, all of which may deter young children from engaging in problem behavior” (Petts 2010; Jocson 2016). Indeed, spirituality, and engaging in worship of God positively affects one’s health, perspective on life, and relationships. (To be continued)