On April 7, people around the world will focus on their health as a part of World Health Day, which celebrates the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organization in 1948. This year’s theme, “My health, my right,” was selected with the goal of championing the right of people everywhere to have access to the resources they need to be healthy individuals.

As this day of wellness approaches, think of what actions you can take to be a healthy and empowered person. Those pursuits can include anything related to your wellbeing, including the environment, education, nutrition, altruism, mental health pursuits and more. Not sure where to begin? Read on some ideas to get your wheels turning. And don’t feel limited to just one action! Feel free to add to the list and return to it all year long, when you need inspiration.   

  1. Show the earth some love. Your health, and the health of your community is impacted by the air you breathe, the water you drink and the food you eat. In April, make an effort to help the environment. Some ideas include participating in a clean-up in a neighborhood or in nature, planting a tree, recycling and reducing your water use. In addition, find ways to immerse yourself in the beauty around you. Go for a hike, walk along a beach, swim in a lake or the ocean and take a moment to feel grateful for the natural world.
  2. Plant a garden. Gardening can be such a satisfying activity. When you plant your own fruits, vegetables and herbs, you’ll experience the wonder of watching the fruits of your labor grow and change, right before your eyes.  Plus, with such easy access to your fresh bounty, you may be more inclined to eat more servings of healthy food—and you could even save money on grocery bills when you do.
  3. Get moving. Springtime is an excellent season for new outdoor habits. With longer, warmer days, it feels good to walk—or run—some extra miles. Or, consider joining a sports team or signing up for a fitness class, where you could meet new friends.
  4. Leave the car behind. In honor of Earth Month (April), park your vehicle at home and take alternative transportation to the store or office, whether it’s by bike, foot, public transportation or carpooling.
  5. Help your community. What health challenges or barriers exist in your region? And how can you help others help themselves? Some possible actions include donating money or volunteering your time with a non-profit organization that addresses those issues, whether it’s food security, housing support, education access, skills training, or environmental problems. Alternatively, you could participate in an event that raises awareness around a cause, such as a march or rally, or a walk or run for charity. Or if you know someone in need, find a way to help them out, personally.
  6. Spring into seasonal cleaning. When you clean your home, you get rid of allergens and germs that can impact your physical health. Plus, there’s something mood-boosting about a tidy environment. As you roll up your sleeves and pull on your gloves, consider using natural cleaners that won’t harm your health or the health of others around you. Vinegar and baking soda can work wonders when used in the right proportions! The University of Arkansas publishes a handy guide on “clean and green” cleaners you can make yourself.
  7. Make any health appointments you’ve been putting off. We’re now into the fourth month of the year, so it’s a good time to ask yourself this question: are you making the most of your health insurance? If you haven’t already, make an appointment with your primary care provider for your annual exam. There, you can discuss any changes or concerns, and find out what actions you need to take when it comes to health screenings and vaccines.
  8. Exercise your brain. It’s easy to fall into the same old routine. But learning and growing should be lifelong pursuits. Consider actions that could give you a “spark,” like learning a new language, signing up for an artistic class, enrolling at the local community college, teaching yourself how to play a musical instrument or tutoring others who need help.
  9. Check in with your mental health. How have you really been feeling lately? Do you find that you’re worrying, or “stuck,” or struggling? If you think your mental health could use some help, talk to a loved one about your concerns, and consider making an appointment with a counselor, or finding an online or in-person support group.
  10. Make plans with friends. The mere act of adding a fun outing to your calendar can brighten your mood and give you something to look forward to. Connect with friends and arrange for a healthy outing, even if it’s as simple as a picnic or a walk. Social connections are good for your mental and physical health!
  11. Load up on fresh fruits and vegetables. If your house is full of healthy options, it’s way easier to make healthy choices! Do a quick run and pick out fresh, nutritious items you know you’ll eat. If you can, visit a local farm or farmer’s market and support their business. Then, make these fresh items your go-to choices when snacking, and be sure to load up half of your plate with fruits and veggies with each meal. You may think better, sleep better and feel better for it.
  12. Get more sleep. Too many Americans are sleep deprived. Not getting enough zzzs has been linked with chronic health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, depression and obesity. While sleep may feel like a luxury, it really is a necessity.  If you’re an adult who is getting less than seven hours (here’s a chart of how much sleep you need by age), it may be time to revamp your routine and make time for more sleep. If you find you’re tossing and turning for weeks on end, talk to your doctor. You may have a sleep disorder or other physical or mental health problems that could be getting in the way.

On World Health Day, any action you take with your health in mind is the right action. It can be challenging to put your own health first, but if you don’t do it, yourself, who will?