Health Observances in the Month of April

What We May Have Overlooked

BY GARY W. SELNOW, PH.D., WIRED INTERNATIONAL DIRECTOR

As regular readers know, WiRED’s writers keep watch for official health observances to elevate key issues that promote healthy living and disease awareness. As a health education organization, it is our calling to stimulate health consciousness and promote practices of disease prevention.

 

Here are a few thoughts about official observances this month — all, by the way, are real, declared observances.

Through the luck of the draw, it falls to me this month to tout observances in April that fulfil this mission. The website manager, away for the day, has given me an “open mike,” and so, with this freedom, I’ve excavated the records for key observances that have some relevance — marginal or otherwise — to health. Here are a few thoughts about official observances this month — all, by the way, are real declared observances.

 

Let’s start with a food theme, always an observance favorite. I’m sure most readers already know, and may have lavishly celebrated, National Soft Pretzel Month, National Pecan Month, Fresh Celery Month and Fresh Florida Tomato Month. And if that isn’t enough, it’s National Food Month, a convenient catch-all observance to stand against charges that we missed any of the food groups. All these, of course, are related to human health, good or bad, and are worth considering. You may eat more or less of each item to promote or undermine your own health; we’ll leave that to you. Our job is just to be sure these observances are on your calendar.

 

Moving on, it’s also National Straw Hat month, National Safe Digging Month and the related National Lawn and Garden Month. Further, it’s Pets are Wonderful Month and Canine Fitness Month. In the UK, it’s National Pet Month. What I like about these observances, celebrations really, is that they, too, have great relevance to our health. Wear a hat to avoid ill effects of the sun; dig carefully, because we all know that no good can come of reckless digging. And animals: how many studies have demonstrated the salubrious effects of our wonderful pets. You live longer, happier and enjoy a richer existence with a dog at your feet, a cat on your lap, a morning filled with bird song. We should caution that, in many neighborhoods, anyone disputing the value of pets might find that such a view comes with an ill effect on health.

 

Rounding out the list of health-related observances during the month of April are: National Humor Month, National Stress Reduction Month and the National Month of Hope. Who could dispute the value of such observances to our health and well-being? Someone once said, “He who laughs, lasts.” That seems about right to me. When is the last time you saw an old sourpuss? Okay, maybe not. Let’s move on to Stress Reduction Month. It’s hard to swing a stick without hitting yet another university study reporting the value of stress reduction. Why do you think there are so many studies on this topic? It could be because it’s so important. It also could be that institutional review boards are more eager to approve human subject studies on stress, but that’s beside the point. We all know in our gut that less stress is better than more stress; at least we hope that’s so. And while we’re hoping, we are reminded that for all its embedded observances, April is known most prominently as the National Month of Hope.

 

It seems to me that one of the greatest contributions to good health of the individual is good health of the community.

Let’s conclude with an observance that I genuinely believe is good not only for health and well-being but is good for the soul: Community Services Month. Never before have populations been so fractured, so sliced and diced and subdivided so thoroughly by the media, by economic interests and by politics. With the divide so widespread, our common agendas and reference points are yielding to individual preoccupations, and this weakens empathy, tolerance and compromise. It weakens our societies to the breaking point. Of all the observances in all the months of the year, I can’t think of a theme any more important than one with a purpose to bring us together; Community Services Month fits the bill. Imagine the good of it if everyone gave an hour a month to help a neighbor, to plant a tree, to clean up a small portion of the neighborhood, shoulder-to-shoulder with a friend. It seems to me that one of the greatest contributions to good health of the individual is good health of the community.

 

April has been quite a month for health observances.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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