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Adding Life to Years
by Dr. Lawrence J. Weiss
March: A Month of Celebrations
I started thinking about what is happening in March and Saint Patrick's Day immediately popped into my mind.
It is the Feast of Saint Patrick (the Day of the Festival of Patrick) and is a cultural and religious celebration held on March 17th, the traditional death date of Saint Patrick (c. AD 385 – 461), the foremost patron saint of Ireland. Saint Patrick's Day was made an official Christian feast day in the early 17th century and now is celebrated in many countries. That thought generated to what else is celebrated in March. National Awareness Days in March includes everything from National Puppy Week to International Women's Day. Here are only a few of those celebrations:
National Horse Protection Day is March 1st. Unfortunately, there is a lot of cruelty to horses. Some are subject to unimaginable abuse and slaughter. Did you know that a bill passed under the Wild Horse Protection Act in 2004 made it okay to slaughter wild horses? Five years later, BLM (The Bureau of Land Management) that farms these wild horses – decided that they were going to eliminate 620 wild horses. Why? Because they were apparently ‘trampling the landscape’. National Horse Protection Day (NHPD) is also known as World Horse Day (WHD). Horses are an icon of Freedom. Aside from the dog, horses have been man's best friend for centuries, carrying them crosscountry, being their faithful comrades in battle, pulling the wagons that carried their families, their supplies, and materials for their homesteads. You can help by adopting, educating about the need, help feed and care for horses or foster or sponsor a horse at your local shelter. Providing for the horses lives and safety, also help promote human happiness and wellness.
University Mental Health and Wellbeing Day (UMHAN) believes that more attention should be focused on ensuring the positive wellbeing of people with mental health difficulties. So March 3rd aims to get people from educational institutions involved in ensuring the mental health and wellbeing of students and staff in higher education. They emphasize different methods, such as the proper installation of access ramps and hearing loops so the disabled can get educated. People with disabilities will have greater higher education opportunities and in turn greater employment chances. In the past there has been no legislation specially dedicated to helping people with mental health issues – instead, the emphasis has been on how to contain and manage people. So this day is not only about encouraging positive changes in legislation and society, but also informing people more about the issues affecting people and implement change.
National Sleep Awareness Week is March 6-12. This week is about raising the issues concerned with sleep and asking yourself if you are getting enough. How much sleep is enough? Nine hours is usually enough for adults but depending on the age and person, more or less time might be needed. The older you get, the less sleep you tend to need and vice versa. Unfortunately, things like snoring problems, insomnia, life stress, and other issues can disrupt our sleep. A disrupted sleep often leads to not feeling alert the next day and stops us from carrying out our important daily tasks. A more dangerous example would be drivers that have fallen asleep at the wheel, which recent research shows that it is as powerful an accident generator as liquor. So what can you do in March during National Sleep Awareness Week? Well, first of all and most importantly, make sure you’re getting a good enough sleep! Here are a few simple tips to help you sleep easy: Don’t drink caffeine; No exercise at least three hours before bed, and; Winding down with a nice bath will always lead the way to a good night’s sleep! Certainly good sleep contributes to healthy aging.
National Pi Day really is a whole 24-hours dedicated to celebrating Pi, the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. So do you know why Pi is so interesting? Well it’s a transcendental number meaning it’s infinite – no mathematical operation can be the equal to its approximate 3.14 value. This is why it has fascinated and confused mathematicians for centuries. It even made the news after a Japanese psychiatric counsellor recited Pi to 83,431 decimal places from memory – setting an unofficial world record. Larry Shaw recognized the significance of all this and created Pi Day on 14 March – the 14th day of the 3rd month (3.14, get it!). It’s even been passed as a non-binding resolution by the House of Representatives. Certainly there are more important days than Pi Day, but the circle of life affects us all.
National Puppy Day is March 23rd and is celebrated for two reasons: to draw awareness to the unconditional love we get from our dogs and to highlight the importance of working to save our orphaned canines and teach people the truth about puppy mills in the US. Dogs/Puppies, animals in general, are therapeutic and promote healthy aging.
National Doctors Day is March 30. Why honor doctors? What would we do without doctors? The short answer is not much! We need them to get us better when we’re ill whether that means help with something small or a much bigger, sometimes lifethreatening illness. National Doctor’s Day wants to celebrate our medical professionals and all they do for us – because let’s face it we probably take them for granted. The holiday was first celebrated in 1933 in the US to mark the success of the new general anesthesia in hospitals. Modern advances in medicine means people are now living longer – great news for us! So why not take the time to thank your doctor? Send them an ecard or send a simple message to thank them for all they’ve done – a small token of gratitude that will go a long way. Medicine is important to our lives, especially as we age and need more attention by the professionals.
World Water Day is observed each year on March 22nd. The day, which was established by the United Nations and first celebrated in 1993 to celebrate the importance of freshwater around the globe. Did you know that over 45 percent of the world’s land surface is covered by river basins, and over 75 percent of all countries have their boundaries within shared river basins? All around the world events will be held to celebrate freshwater and promote its sustainability, and every year there is a different theme. From water and our future to sanitation and water scarcity, the day aims to keep us informed. We should consume at least 8 glasses of water daily which promotes healthy aging.
World Meteorological Day is observed annually on March 23rd. Organized by the World Meteorological Organization, a part of the United Nations, the day has been celebrated for over 60 years. Clueless about what meteorological means? It is all about the study of weather and shortterm forecasting. Weather is something that affects us all. The day commemorates the World Meteorological Organization’s convention, and in previous years, events have included presentations on the weather and climate, preventing natural disasters and sustainable development – all very important.
International Women’s Day is March 8th. Now, more than ever, there's a strong call-to-action to press forward and progress gender parity. There's a strong call to motivate and unite friends, colleagues and whole communities to think, act and be gender inclusive. In a year when women broke the silence about the extent of the sexual harassment they have experienced and its impact on their personal and professional lives, it is perhaps not surprising that the day is the most talked about topic on social networking. Women’s rights were a central part of the public discourse in 2017, 106 years after the first International Women’s Day was observed. Let’s celebrate our equality.
These special days of acknowledgement and celebration are only a few that are recognized during the month of March. Even if you only recognize one of the celebratory days or weeks, what better way to "add life to years"!
Lawrence J. Weiss, Ph.D. is CEO of the Center for Healthy Aging. Dr. Weiss welcomes your comments on this column. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Center for Healthy Aging, 11 Fillmore Way, Reno, NV 89519.