“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. Prioritizing your wellbeing pays 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. Move Your Body – Find an activity you love and do it often. Experts recommend you do anything that gets your heart working for about 20-minutes a day. This can look like a brisk walk, a dance/cardio break, or even pilates/yoga. The best exercise for you is one that you enjoy and can do consistently. Movement can help boost your mood, stay sharp and alert, and even sleep better.
2. Fill Your Plate with Whole Foods – To feel your best you need to fuel your body with nutrients. 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. Prioritize Your Mental Health – We all need a little help from time to time. Building healthy habits can help you take care of yourself when life’s challenges throw you off course. Spending time with friends, finding balance, eating well and moving your body are just a few ways to help you develop resilience and take care of your mind, emotions, and mood. If you’re needing extra support, you might want to consider talking to a professional. You can find support at 2-1-1 NH.
4. Sleep – Lack of sleep is detrimental both in the short and long-term. Frequent lack of sleep lowers your immune system, impacts your ability to cope with stress, and disrupts your metabolism. Aim for seven to eight hours of quality sleep each night. Substances like alcohol and marijuana negatively impact sleep quality, cutting back on usage is a great first step.
“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!”
Interested in learning more? Check out our Wellness and Self-Care Tips.
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.
Most people already know about the dangers of using tobacco products and most people who use it also want to quit. The most important thing to know is that all forms of tobacco are harmful and there is no safe level of exposure.
- Why is tobacco considered harmful to health? Tobacco contains numerous harmful substances, including nicotine and tar, which are linked to various health problems such as heart disease, respiratory issues, and multiple types of cancer. Individuals who use tobacco, especially those with mental health or substance use issues, face a higher risk of premature death, often occurring between 5 to 25 years earlier than non-tobacco users.
- What about vaping? Is that safer? There’s not enough evidence to know whether or not e-cigarettes help people to quit smoking. There is evidence to show that vaping (using e-cigarettes, mods, etc.) is harmful to the lungs. Although the aerosol of e-cigarettes generally has fewer harmful substances than cigarette smoke, e-cigarettes and other products containing nicotine are not safe to use during pregnancy.
- How addictive is nicotine in tobacco? Nicotine is highly addictive and leads to dependency. Nearly one third of people who start smoking become dependent, a rate higher than addiction to substances like heroin, cocaine, and alcohol. But the good news is that quitting is possible at any time in a person’s life and that help is available.
- Can quitting tobacco improve mental health? Yes, quitting tobacco has been associated with improved mental health, including lower levels of anxiety, depression, and stress. Nicotine, found in tobacco and tobacco products, can make symptoms of anxiety and depression worse.
- How can I quit tobacco? Quitting tobacco can be challenging, but there are various methods available, including counseling, medications, and nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) such as patches, gum, lozenges, inhalers, and nasal sprays. Check out QuitNow-NH to get started.
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