“I wasn’t planning on getting pregnant, so my first pregnancy caught me by surprise. I’m glad I made regular exercise and sleep a part of my daily schedule. I felt more prepared to handle the changes that came with pregnancy because I was already feeling good.”
When it comes to your health, you’re in control. Whether you’re pregnant, thinking about becoming pregnant, or pregnancy is the last thing on your mind, there are steps you can take to improve your health and feel better. Taking good care of yourself now can pay off in the long run, as you never know when life will throw you a curveball.
Health fads come and go, and it can be hard to keep track of what you can do to feel your best. When in doubt, health experts recommend going back to basics:
1. Break a sweat – Find an activity you love and do it often. Experts recommend you do anything that gets your heart moving faster for about 20-minutes a day – just be consistent. This can look like a vigorous walk, a dance/cardio break, or even pilates/yoga. The best exercise for you is one that makes you feel great. Movement can help boost your mood, stay sharp and alert, and even sleep better.
2. Fill your plate with whole foods – Indulging every once and a while is okay, but to feel good you need to feed your body with nutritious foods. Nutrition experts recommend filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables and the other half with whole grains, lean protein like chicken or fish, healthy fats like olive oil and avocado, and dairy. If your plate is colorful, you’re on the right track!
3. Take care of your mental health – We all need a little help from time to time. Building healthy habits can help you take care of your emotions, mood and mind when life’s challenges from work, caregiving, grief, illness or trauma throw you off course. Spending time with friend, finding balance, eating well and moving your body are just a few tips to help you maintain a healthy outlook and develop resilience. When these things don’t work, you might want to consider talking to a professional. You can find support at 2-1-1 NH.
4. Sleep more – Not getting enough sleep can impact how you feel in the short-term, but it can have long-term effects, too. Frequent lack of sleep can affect your ability to fight off some infections, cope with stress, and regulate metabolism. Aim for seven to eight hours of good-quality sleep each night. To improve your sleep, consider cutting back on alcohol, marijuana or tobacco.
“For a long time, I thought I needed weed to help me fall asleep. After talking with my doctor, I realized what I really needed was a therapist I could trust. Focusing on my health helped me feel a lot better, and I’m sleeping better, too!”
Happy hour, a glass of wine after work, and drinks at dinner: alcohol is often at the center of our social activities, and this isn’t a bad thing. Being mindful of alcohol consumption is important if you want to feel your best.
- How much can I drink per day? The recommended low risk alcohol guidelines suggest no more than one drink a day per women and no more than two drinks a day per men, because our bodies react differently to alcohol. Of course, there are times when no alcohol is recommended like when you are under age 21, are pregnant or may be pregnant, taking certain medications, driving or operating equipment or you are in recovery.
- Wait, what’s one serving? All drinks are not created equal, but the following measurements count as one serving: 12 ounces of beer (5% alcohol), 5 ounces of wine (12% alcohol content), or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits (40% alcohol).
- Are there short-term health effects? There are some short-term health effects associated with drinking, including alcohol poisoning; injuries, such as car crashes or falls; or risky sexual behaviors like unprotected sex, which puts you at risk for unintended pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections.
- Are there long-term health effects? Consuming too much alcohol consistently over a long time can result in health problems like heart disease and stroke, some cancers, learning and memory problems, and mental health conditions like anxiety or depression.
- What if I need help? If you or a loved one is concerned with how much and how often you drink, help is available at 2-1-1 NH.
The strength or potency of the drug in marijuana that makes you feel high (THC) has increased over time – making marijuana more powerful and addictive. Today, many products contain 20% – 90% THC. Take this quiz to see how much you know about marijuana.
- Is marijuana legal to use in New Hampshire? Marijuana use, including medical and recreational, is not legal in every state – state and local laws vary. In New Hampshire, medical or therapeutic marijuana is available at qualified Alternative Treatment Centers for patients who have an approved card for the therapeutic use of marijuana.
- Is marijuana addictive? Research shows that about 1 in 10 people who use marijuana will become addicted. For people who begin using before the age of 18, that number rises to 1 in 6.
- How does marijuana impact my brain? Consuming marijuana can affect the parts of the brain responsible for memory, learning, emotions, and decision-making.
- How does marijuana impact my mental health? When you first start using marijuana it might help you unwind and relax, but overtime, regular use is linked to increased risk of developing cannabis use disorder, higher rates of mental illness and a greater chance of misusing other substances like alcohol.
- What if I eat or drink it? Eating foods or drinking beverages that contain marijuana have some different risks than smoking marijuana, including a greater risk of poisoning. Products containing marijuana are often unregulated, and it’s hard to know how much marijuana each product contains.
- Can I use marijuana safely while I am pregnant? It is difficult to study the impact of using marijuana while pregnant, so doctors and experts are still learning. Most agree, however, that it is best to avoid all types of marijuana at all stages of pregnancy because it has the potential to impact the cognitive and behavioral development of babies. It’s never too late to stop – stopping at any point during your pregnancy has benefits. If you’ve been approved for therapeutic marijuana, talk to your provider about alternative treatment.
We believe in science- and evidence-based health advice.
- Move Your Way® Campaign. Health.gov. https://health.gov/our-work/physical-activity/move-your-way-campaign
- President’s Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition. Health.gov. https://health.gov/our-work/pcsfn
- Mental Health. Womenshealth.gov. https://www.womenshealth.gov/mental-health