Nigerian Health and Wellness for Balanced Living
Health and wellness constitute two significant aspects of living a balanced, fulfilled life.
Often considered in isolation, the intersection of these components is crucial, especially within the Nigerian context. As of the 2021 World Health Organization (WHO) report, Nigeria has been grappling with several health challenges, with a significant focus required on both physical and mental wellness. This article explores practical steps to bolster health and wellness, underscoring the nexus of physical and mental well-being.
Physical Wellness in Nigeria
Physical wellness implies maintaining a healthy body through regular exercise, proper nutrition, sleep, and avoiding harmful habits such as substance abuse. In Nigeria, rapid urbanization and lifestyle changes have led to an increase in non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like hypertension, diabetes, and cancer.
Engaging in regular physical activity can mitigate the risk of NCDs. As per the WHO, adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity throughout the week. This could include walking, jogging, cycling, or participating in local cultural dances like Bata, Ekombi, or Swange.
Proper nutrition is another key factor. A balanced diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains, can improve physical health. Limiting intake of processed foods, high in salt, sugar, and unhealthy fats, is equally important. Locally available Nigerian foods like millet, sorghum, or African yam can serve as wholesome alternatives.
Adequate sleep is essential to physical health, with adults needing between 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. A lack of sleep can lead to physical health issues such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
Mental Wellness in Nigeria:
Mental wellness is as crucial as physical wellness. It encompasses our emotional, psychological, and social well-being and affects how we think, feel, and act. In Nigeria, mental health remains stigmatized and is often left unaddressed.
Awareness and Education:
Raising awareness about mental health and debunking common misconceptions can encourage individuals to seek help. Institutions can engage mental health professionals for workshops, while community leaders can leverage traditional forms of communication to spread the message.
Access to Mental Health Services:
Improving access to mental health services is essential. Digital platforms can make therapy and counselling more accessible to people across the country, especially in rural areas. Initiatives like the Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative (MANI) have made strides in this direction.
Having a strong social support system has been shown to improve mental well-being. Encouraging open conversations about mental health within family and social circles can cultivate a supportive environment for those in need.
The integration of physical and mental wellness is indispensable to achieving balanced health in Nigeria. Recognizing the importance of each facet and fostering a holistic health approach can contribute towards improving the overall health and wellness in the Nigerian society.
 WHO. (2021). WHO Country Cooperation Strategy at a glance: Nigeria. World Health Organization.
 Adeloye, D., Basquill, C., Aderemi, A. V., Thompson, J. Y., & Obi, F. A. (2014). An estimate of the prevalence of hypertension in Nigeria: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Hypertension, 32(2), 230-242.
 WHO. (2020). Physical Activity. World Health Organization.
 Hirshkowitz, M., Whiton, K., Albert, S. M., Alessi, C., Bruni, O., DonCarlos, L., ... & Neubauer, D. N. (2015). National Sleep Foundation’s updated sleep duration recommendations: final report. Sleep Health, 1(4), 233-243.
 Gureje, O., Lasebikan, V. O., Ephraim-Oluwanuga, O., Olley, B. O., & Kola, L. (2005). Community study of knowledge of and attitude to mental illness in Nigeria. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 186(5), 436-441.
 Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative. (2023). What We Do. MANI.
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