Name: Brittany Cotton
Department: Residential Life
Role at UNH: Residence Hall Director
Year Started at UNH: 2017
What does being healthy look like to you?
Being healthy is an illustration of who I am as a person. I love being a plus size woman who takes pride in her health and outer appearance. I love to dress, do my hair in different styles, smell good, and look in the mirror and say, “I am proud of you.” Being healthy is having the ability to talk and walk in my own truth. It is important that my mental, physical, and emotional health are recalibrated and that I give myself space to make mistakes. If I don’t reach a goal, I do not beat myself up anymore. I just say, “Ok, I didn’t get that this time, but I will next time” and then I simply move on. We all woke up today to try again at this thing called life. Each day I am living and I love it.
What have you been doing to take care of your mental health while in quarantine?
I have been taking this time to spend quality time with myself. I work two jobs and I am around other people 24/7, so it is important for me to find time for myself. I have appreciated the alone time, and I have been able to recalibrate my purpose in life and check in with myself mentally. It is a lot to deal with, especially as a woman of color who is living in a predominately White state and constantly seeing Black people dying on social media. For that reason, I have deleted all my social apps and stepped away to center myself and my emotions. I think that is super important especially being in the student affairs higher education field. I canceled facetime dates, social distancing gatherings, and reduced my work hours. Putting yourself first can be the most rewarding action step you can do for yourself in a time of adversity.
What has been your favorite tech-free hobby?
Sitting in my living room in the dark while laying on the floor and meditating. I am the freest when I mediate and pray. That has helped me center myself and check in mentally. Mindfulness is so important and there are so many videos and playlists that have helped me think about how important it is to disconnect. Also, music in general has helped me through this quarantine. I sincerely love music, especially neo-soul and R&B.
What do you do to stay active?
That is a great question. I hang with friends, I walk around campus, I am planning to go hiking, and I sit still. I am tired after I stand on my feet for eight hours at my part time job, but I can be more active. This is something I can do better at. But I am taking in the scenery and walking and exercising when I can.
What has been your favorite food to make while in quarantine?
I LOVE making dishes from the app, Tasty. My favorite dish I have made was a low-carb Mediterranean chicken and tomato dish by Kevin Curry. I made it with fresh green beans and mashed potatoes. I also learned different ways to make mashed potatoes. I have cut out a lot of starch and this was my first time making mashed potatoes in a while, and I truly loved them. I used heavy cream and melted butter and oh my goodness what a difference it was in the consistency and taste. I also use garlic salt more than salt. Cooking is my happy place and since I had to move to the Gables, I have the space to really explore different recipes with varying flavors.
How do you find motivation to stay healthy and active while in quarantine?
The people around me keep me motivated. We have challenges and I have been steady with my weight loss goals. I started last February and I am currently down 30 pounds. I am very proud of myself and I do not have a certain weight I want to be at. I want to be healthy and I am pre-diabetic, so I want to make sure I control that. I also weigh in with some friends on Mondays and we send in our weight while standing on the scale. Seeing my weight go down has been very motivating and makes me happy that I am doing something right each day.
Have you seen or felt any improvements in your physical or mental well-being after making positive changes in your life?
To be honest, some days I feel good and some days I do not, but I really need to do better with going to bed at a consistent time. It’s so hard because all of my favorite shows are late and everything is readily accessible so I just sit for hours and catch up on shows. So, now I have created a plan to just watch one episode each night instead of binge watching a series in one night.
Do you have any positive words of encouragement for others to create a healthier lifestyle?
Do what is best for you, not what is best for others, including family. You are learning new things about yourself everyday and your happiness is what is important. You matter. Your well-being matters. To take care of others, you have to make sure you take care of home first. It is the most liberating feeling you will have. Try it sometime, you will not regret it.