Annoying Cold or Welcome Cold

I got really crook this week, well as crook as you get with man flu. Yes I know men are far worse patients than women. What I don’t understand is why when my wife gets a grumbly tummy for an hour I go down with a week long sickness bug, or why when she gets the sniffles I get the flu and a raging temperature! Is it all in my head?

It is clear that whilst physical illness have obvious biological causes, our psychology interplays strongly with when we are susceptible to illness. Whilst on the search for sympathy at church on Sunday I was discussing with a friend how illness often comes at the worst possible time. Ok, there never is a good time for illness, but doesn’t it always arrive as the nail in the coffin, the final straw, the last in a long line of stressful and unfortunate incidents.

Coincidence? I don’t think so! It is clear that stress can significantly reduce our immunity and increase our susceptibility to getting ill. There is definitely a link between stress and illness. But what if we thought about things another way. What if illness was sometimes a way of our bodies going on strike and removing our minds form the building pressure of stressful circumstances.

Of course this idea can’t be universally applied, but I wonder if we sometimes need to be ‘taken out’ for our own good. I was struck by an article about the heroic rugby star; Johnny Wilkinson. Interestingly he is one of the most injury prone international players, yet he is also the most enduring, injury has offered him rest periods that other players haven’t been afforded.

I know physical illness are painful and hard to deal with in themselves, but don’t we so often make it so much worse by stressing about what we can’t do, work missed, deadlines building and people let down. Imagine instead that we listened to what our bodies were saying, maybe that our brains need a break, a chance to have some space and let everything settle for a few days. If you are feeling rough right now, let go of feeling guilty about what you aren’t doing, instead give yourself a mental break. Pray for healing, not just for the body, but also for the mind. Start treating yourself like you would treat others, with compassion.

Get well soon

Will Van Der Hart, 19/02/2008
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