Wellness Wednesday: Health Flavour of the Month: January

University of Kent Occupational Health and Wellbeing Manager, Brenda Brunsdon

Every month there is a range of national health promotion campaigns in the UK. January sees an emphasis on health after some of the potential excesses over the Christmas period. There are also some interesting themes which are not related to this. Here is a synopsis of the campaigns should you want to learn more or join in:

  • Dry January: this initiative was first started in 2013 by the UK charity Alcohol Concern. Dry January is this organisation’s most well-known campaign and is aimed at getting everyone who consumes alcohol to consider the effect it has in their life and reduce their consumption. It provides a platform for those wishing to engage to consider the gains of avoiding hangovers, losing weight and saving money by giving up alcohol for 31 days
  • Love Your Liver Month: this forms a natural link to Dry January, because the liver is the organ most detrimentally affected by high alcohol consumption. The other high-risk factor to developing liver disease is carrying too much weight. January seems a natural time to address both risks, coming so soon after Christmas! This health initiative is promoted by the British Liver Trust
  • Veganuary: launched in the UK in 2014 with the aim of encouraging people to trial a vegan diet and lifestyle. There have been over a million participants in Veganaury since it started and it is a fixture in 192 countries across the world. Veganism is seen as a healthy diet choice and a positive ethical choice given the global warming crisis
  • Paget’s Awareness Day, 11 January: Paget’s Disease affects the bones and skeletal system. It can be very debilitating. Held annually on this day, which was the birthday of Sir James Paget who discovered the disease
  • STIQ Day, 14 January: this date is deliberately chosen 14 days after Christmas and the New Year with their association as a party season which can lead to people engaging in unprotected sex; this is because it takes 14 days for the symptoms of chlamydia to become apparent. STIQ Day is here to prompt people who have had unprotected sex to get tested for Sexually Transmitted Infections. Getting a sexual health check is easy and shouldn’t be embarrassing or shameful; sex is a normal part of adult life so sexual health checks should be to. It’s a quick, simple process that not only puts your mind at rest but could protect your fertility or even save your life or that of your partner
  • Blue Monday/ Brew Monday, 17 January: the third Monday in January has now been accepted as Blue Monday, so-called because it is, allegedly, the most depressing day of the year. This may or may not be rooted in research, as it is purported to be, but a lot of us certainly feel a deeper level of glumness this month, for a number of reasons. With the obvious link to poor mental health, the Samaritans have initiated Brew Monday to help those struggling with low mood and depression/anxiety. It is a campaign focussing on the importance of connecting with others as a way of helping against poor mental health. The Covid 19 crisis remains ongoing with the consequent risk to the health of many and the NHS. This means that the imposition of restrictions and lockdowns across the country will lead to lack of contact for many. The campaign encourages setting up a virtual meet up for a cuppa on 17 January
  • Cervical Cancer Prevention Week 17-23 January: promoted and organised by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust. Its aim is to promote the importance of having smear tests as a means of the early treatment of cervical cancer.
  • World Leprosy Day 31 January: promoted in the UK by the organisation Lepra, the aim is to spread knowledge about leprosy as a preventable and treatable disease and to raise funds for this

There are many initiatives to stimulate you to learn more, get involved and possibly change your health profile and habits in the short or long term.

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