Each year, World Health Day is celebrated on April 7th, spreading awareness of the importance of health and access to healthcare and providing an opportunity to shine a light on important public health issues affecting people all over the world. With the COVID-19 pandemic still affecting the lives and health of many people all around the world, 2021 is a particularly important year for World Health Day.
The theme of World Health Day 2021 is “Building a fairer, healthier world”. COVID-19 has highlighted many of the inequalities that exist in the world. Poorer housing, education, and opportunities can lead to less access to safe environments, clean water and air, adequate food, and health services. This can lead to preventable illness and suffering, as well as communities who are hit harder by the impact of a crisis like COVID-19.
In embracing the theme of World Health Day 2021, those of us who are more fortunate can call on our leaders, urging them to ensure all people have access to adequate resources and healthcare, regardless of the conditions into which they are born, or in which they live or work.
We can also show gratitude for our good health and the privileges we enjoy. We can take a moment to be thankful that we do have access to the care and medical services that we need through our lives, thankful to those who work to provide these services, and we can also take time to learn something new and consider how we can take better care of ourselves.
Many of our choices throughout our daily lives can impact our physical, mental, and emotional health. Even a small improvement can make a difference in the short and long term. What are some choices you can make today to improve your own health? We’ve put 5 suggestions together for you below.
Get better sleep
A lack of quality sleep can have detrimental effects on your health, leading to poor focus or performance during the day, difficulty learning and remembering information, as well as impacts on emotional and mental wellbeing. Lack of sleep can even lead to dehydration.
Getting adequate, good quality sleep every night is a critical component to health, allowing the body and mind to rest and recover. The stress and disruption that COVID-19 has brought to many of our lives means that even more people are suffering from irregular or interrupted sleep or insomnia. Thankfully, there are a number of ways to improve sleep, even during a pandemic, the most important of which is to set a regular bedtime and wake time. This allows your circadian rhythm to adjust to a regular sleep schedule, helping your natural cycles of energy and sleepiness. Can you commit to a regular bedtime and wake time today?
Move more, sit less
The World Health Organization recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity in a week for an average adult to maintain optimum health. Many people have been stuck at home for prolonged periods of time with reduced access to sport and recreation. There are also fewer opportunities for incidental exercise that you may usually get during the day, such as walking from your car to the shops, or going up and down the stairs at the office. More and more people are spending time sitting at home, with the temptation of the couch or even the bed nearby instead of a lunchtime walk around the block.
Can you make a commitment to get more movement into your day? Take regular breaks from sitting, making time to stretch, do a home workout such as yoga or even dancing, or go for a walk around the block. Even a small increase in exercise can make a difference.
Reduce alcohol consumption
There are many negative effects of drinking. Too much alcohol affects both our physical and mental wellbeing in the short and long term. Yet, many people turn to alcohol in times of stress, having a drink to relax and unwind after a tough day. While it’s widely believed that drinking can help you relax and get to sleep at night, alcohol can actually cause disruptions to your sleep and prevent you from getting deep sleep. Drinking too much or too often can lead to worse things than stress and poor sleep, so it’s important to try to find other ways to deal with life’s many challenges.
Can you commit to reducing the amount you drink? Make sure to seek help if you think you might be drinking too much.
Drink more water
Our bodies are mostly made up of water. Water is responsible for processing and transporting important nutrients and minerals all around our body and is crucial for all of our internal organs to function properly. So vital is water, we can’t even survive just a few days without it. A lack of water throughout the day can cause dehydration, which in turn can affect our ability to focus and perform throughout the day, our ability to sleep, and it can also lead to headaches and ultimately can have severe effects on health. Many people forget to drink enough water throughout the day. Your body loses water through breathing and urinating, so even if you don’t break a sweat, it’s important to drink plenty of fluids as you go about your day.
Can you make a commitment to have another glass of water today? Or perhaps get a nice drink bottle to keep at your desk? Your body will thank you for it!
Floss your teeth
Dental health is often overlooked when we consider our overall health. Poor dental health can increase your chances of gum disease and tooth decay. Making sure to brush your teeth morning and night and flossing regularly are essential for maintaining good oral hygiene and dental health.
Can you keep your oral health in check by choosing to floss your teeth today? Perhaps you can even stop procrastinating and book in for a visit to your dentist for a check up!
The list above is by no means exhaustive! There are countless choices you can make today to make small but mighty improvements to your overall health.
The World Health Organization is committed to ensuring that everyone, everywhere, can realise the right to good health, so let’s not take ours for granted. Take time to appreciate your health, commit to making the most of it by continuing to learn and make healthy choices, and have gratitude for the services available to you this World Health Day.