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Wellness & Self-Care

It’s no secret: stress levels have been way up, and it’s having serious impacts on mental health in New Hampshire and across the country. Over 220,000 people have a mental health condition in New Hampshire alone, and many of us may not be feeling our best without being diagnosed with a specific condition. Mental health means more than just the absence of mental illness.

There’s no reason we should suffer more than we need. Prioritizing your health also means being intentional about your mental health and wellness. Enter: self-care!

Is self-care really for me?

Taking care of our mental health and well-being is for everybody. And it doesn’t necessarily look the way you think it might. What do we mean when we say “self-care”?

At the end of the day, it’s about making space and time for things that make you feel happy, fulfilled or mentally relaxed. It’s about the small decisions we make every day, and it’s also about making time for those activities that are purely for our own benefit (think: what makes you feel consciously happy or calm? Fill your life with more of that)!

Everyday choices

Self-care includes doing things to take care of yourself—things you’ve heard before—like eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and getting regular exercise. These things directly impact our mood, energy levels, and ability to focus. Some healthier choices can be harder to stick to in winter, with less sunlight, less fresh produce, limited outdoor activities and snowy roads.

But self-care can also mean building in a regular practice of activities that are just for you, for your mental health and wellbeing. At its core, it’s about valuing and prioritizing yourself. Want some ideas for self-care activities to try? Flip through the following cards to browse by category…

Relaxing

Relaxing self-care activities:

Mindfulness meditation (so many available online!)

Bubble bath

Journaling - a gratitude journal is a nice place to start

Reading or listening to an audiobook

Creative

Creative self-care activities:

Adult coloring books

Zentangle drawing

Homemade holiday or greeting cards

Photography or photo editing

Cooking or baking a new recipe

Crochet or cross-stitch

Pottery

Nature-ful

Nature-ful self-care activities:

Gardening or caring for houseplants

Growing herbs in your kitchen

Fostering a dog or cat through a local pet adoption group

Build a terrarium (mossy or succulent/dry)

Social

Social self-care activities:

Set aside time every week to call a friend

Join a community church or volunteer group

Send postcards to loved ones

Make a bucket list of cafes or restaurants to try - and start marking them off!

Set up a weekly "watch party" with a friend for a new show

Active

Active self-care activities:

Bundling up to take a walk

Yoga, stretching, or aerobics classes (in-person or via free online videos)

Morning mini dance sessions to a few of your favorite songs

Joining a gym with a friend so you can help motivate each other

Challenging

Challenging self-care activities:

Sudoku

Crossword puzzles

Taking a free online course to sharpen a skill

Learning a new language (with real people or via an app)
 
 
 
 

The lists go on and on–but start with something doable, that makes you feel good. Whether it’s focused inward, deepens your connections with people you love, or gets your endorphins pumping, self-care should be about increasing our joy and fulfillment.

Seasonal Depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Winter can be a tougher time for a lot of people. Days are shorter, the sky is darker, and it can be harder to connect with others, get outside, and do those things that bring many of us joy in warmer months. You may just be feeling a little bit down in the short-term, or you may have a more serious condition known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This is a type of depression that comes and goes with the change in season. If you’re concerned about your mood or mental