6 Healthy Habits For Physical Wellness Month And Beyond

Medically reviewed by Julie Dodson, MA
Updated May 3, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

April is Physical Wellness Month, which can make it an ideal time to commit to improving your fitness levels, nutritional habits, sleep hygiene, and other facets of wellness. As mental and physical health are often closely related, it can be vital to find different ways to practice healthy habits including incorporating simple activities and daily habits that benefit your mind and body. For professional guidance in improving your mental health so that you’re able to embrace beneficial physical health habits, consider working with a licensed therapist online or in person. 

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A healthy body often starts with a healthy mind

What is Physical Wellness Month?

Physical Wellness Month can be defined as an unofficial observance aimed at promoting healthy habits that foster physical wellness. Though not officially observed by public health authorities, Physical Wellness Month is typically observed annually in April, beginning with National Public Health Week.

During Physical Wellness Month, healthcare organizations, community groups, wellness professionals, and others often promote activities and initiatives aimed at finding different ways of improving physical health. This can include encouraging physical exercise, good nutrition, mental well-being, managing stress levels, and preventative care, among other healthy practices. 

It can be important to note that this month does not focus on weight loss or achieving a specific physical “look.” Physical wellness includes so much more than appearance and weight; while losing weight may be a personal goal for some, the general goal of the month is to encourage people to understand and increase their overall physical health and achieve a fit body and sound mind together. 

Understanding the dimensions of wellness

In 1943, renowned psychologist Abraham Maslow developed an influential model of human well-being known as Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. This model generally outlines a five-tier structure of human needs, with physiological needs forming the base upon which all other needs are built. 

This theory has generally been corroborated by a wealth of research, and current ideas about human thriving typically embrace a multifaceted approach to wellness that involves a number of dimensions:

  • Physical: Physical wellness may be one of the first facets of well-being to consider, and indeed, taking care of physical needs can be crucial to overall health. This typically includes maintaining good sleep, eating healthy, and staying physically active with regular exercise habits, among other aspects of health.

  • Mental and emotional: Mental well-being can play a vital role in quality of life, and it can directly impact physical health. Managing your mental and emotional needs can foster better physical health, relationships, and life stability.

  • Social: Social connectedness is frequently considered by health professionals to be foundational to whole-person health, making it important to spend quality time with others and invest meaningfully in close relationships.

  • Intellectual: Intellectual health generally involves catering to your mind’s need for knowledge, creativity, and critical thinking. Prioritizing this dimension of health can help you feel more connected, fulfilled, and enlightened.

  • Environmental: A person’s natural, social, and built environment can play a critical role in their well-being. Healthy environments like clean homes, walkable neighborhoods, and low-pollution areas can promote good health.

  • Financial: Good financial habits like effective budgeting, saving, investing, and managing debt can reduce stress and anxiety related to financial insecurity

  • Vocational: Vocational well-being generally describes the degree to which we thrive in our careers and work environments. Job satisfaction and career fulfillment can promote a better quality of life while also supporting other facets of well-being. 

  • Spiritual: Spiritual health usually refers to our relationship with the world around us. Many find spiritual fulfillment in religious traditions, while others may gravitate toward nature, art, science, or personal philosophy for meaning and connectedness.

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Exploring the relationship between mental and physical health for a healthy lifestyle

While physical health is often the first aspect of health we consider, a substantial body of research indicates that mental health may be just as important. Poor mental health can jeopardize physical health, and vice versa. This may be because mental health influences how we think, feel, and behave, which can directly influence the way we care for ourselves. 

For example, those experiencing depression may be more prone to a sedentary lifestyle, which tends to be associated with several health conditions. However, sedentary lifestyles can also be a risk factor for depression, suggesting a cyclical depressive pattern in which physical and mental health symptoms may exacerbate each other.

Thus, Physical Wellness Month may be a good time to prioritize mental health. If you struggle to maintain healthy habits, connecting with a mental health professional may be a good first step in helping you break problematic cycles and work toward whole-person health.

6 whole-person health habits to challenge you during Physical Wellness Month

This April, you can observe Physical Wellness Month by engaging in healthy habits that help you achieve the mental clarity and vitality necessary to address other aspects of well-being. 

1. Practice good sleep hygiene

Sleep hygiene typically refers to our habits surrounding our sleep-wake cycles. Experts typically recommend at least seven hours of quality sleep each night to avoid the effects of sleep deprivation, which can impact other facets of health. This may be achieved with healthy sleep habits, such as the following:

  • Maintaining a consistent bedtime

  • Avoiding screens and other stimulating activities before bed

  • Avoiding caffeine and large meals late in the day

  • Limiting or avoiding alcohol use

  • Opting for short naps over long ones 

  • Sleeping in a cool, quiet, dark room

  • Prioritizing regular exercise

  • Getting morning light

2. Nourish your body with wholesome food

Dietary habits can have a significant impact on both physical and mental health. While there may be no right or wrong way to eat, dieticians generally recommend diverse and balanced eating habits that include plenty of protein, healthy fats, fiber, probiotics, and micronutrients. 

By learning to eat healthy and prioritizing wholesome, nutrient-dense foods, you may naturally limit your intake of sugar, alcohol, trans fats, and other proinflammatory agents. While occasional indulgences may not be incompatible with healthy eating habits, medical professionals often warn against overconsumption of such foods due to their potential to damage the body’s cells and tissues. 

3. Get plenty of exercise

Regular physical activity can be one of the most effective ways to improve your health. During Physical Wellness Month, consider finding new ways to incorporate physical activity into your day, increase your fitness level, and stay active. This physical activity may be as simple as committing to taking a walk each day, or even signing up for a new fitness class or sports league. As long as you get your body moving with regular physical activity, you can benefit from it.

Finding ways to move your body that you enjoy and look forward to can be key to making exercise a regular part of your life. If you’re new to working out, be sure to talk to your doctor about a suitable exercise plan.

4. Maintain mental health

Because mental and physical health can be so closely linked, maintaining your mental and emotional well-being can be an effective way to enhance your physical health. This could include managing stress effectively, cultivating a positive relationship with yourself, or checking in regularly with a therapist.

With a healthy mind, you may be better equipped to manage stress in your life and maintain the other good habits discussed here, as well as do more of the things that bring joy and meaning to your life.

5. Invest in your relationships

While social well-being may not be an obvious aspect of physical health, a growing body of research suggests its importance in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Although updated research may be beneficial, one meta-analytic review involving 148 studies and more than 300,000 participants found that those with strong friendships and social connections were usually 50% more likely to live longer

This April, consider looking for ways to invest meaningfully in your relationships. This may mean spending time with your loved ones, reconnecting with old friends, or expanding your social circle by getting involved in a local club or organization.

6. Prioritize mindfulness

Mindfulness is a skill that can be used across a number of situations to improve emotional control, which can be pivotal as you balance the need to care for yourself with the demands of your daily life. 

For example, the exhaustion you may feel after a long day may make it challenging to stick to your exercise routine, but with mindfulness, you could acknowledge and move past this mental resistance and find the motivation to work out. You can learn mindfulness through self-study, guided meditations, or breathwork exercises. Consider adding meditation to your regular fitness routine as a pre- or post-workout activity.

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A healthy body often starts with a healthy mind

Learn self-care practices in therapy

Despite the feelings of positivity and accomplishment that often accompany healthy practices, it can be challenging to be consistent. Stress, time constraints, and mental health concerns may be just a few reasons that many struggle to maintain healthy habits.

If you have difficulty keeping up with your self-care regimen, it may be worth enlisting the help of a therapist. In therapy, you can work through any challenges that may be hindering your ability to stick to a healthy routine, and a therapist can offer practical guidance for incorporating good habits into your daily life. 

Benefits of online therapy

With online therapy platforms like BetterHelp, you can attend weekly therapy sessions from the comfort of your home at times that fit into your busy schedule. You can also choose between video conference, phone call, and online chat for each appointment to further tailor the therapy experience.

Effectiveness of online therapy

Online therapy can effectively treat a wide range of mental health disorders and concerns, including depression, which can be one of the most common barriers to engaging in healthy habits. A 2019 study reported that “depression symptom severity was significantly reduced” after completing three months of online therapy.

Takeaway

This April, you can honor Physical Wellness Month by engaging in practices that foster a healthy body and mind. This could include addressing your sleep, nutrition, and exercise needs, as well as prioritizing your mental health and relationships. Mindfulness might offer a way to strengthen the mind-body connection as you work to keep up with such habits. For help maintaining your self-care regimen, connect with a therapist online or in your local area.
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