wellness

The Easy Mealtime Habit That Improved My Relationship

Generally, dinner time at my house is pretty relaxed and casual.

For the first several years of my relationship with my partner Davin, our evening dinner routine didn’t vary much. After picking up or making dinner, we would sit down on our well-worn brown leather couch, he’d say a brief prayer, and we’d dig in.

We’d chat briefly about our days and turn on the TV to watch a show. This is one of our favorite ways to decompress.

About a year ago, I started feeling like something was missing. Our days were busy and I knew a lot was happening in both of our lives, but we weren’t really connecting.

I thought about requesting we stop watching television and talk to each other, but I actually really enjoyed the hour of TV.

Then it hit me: Davin was saying thanks to God for the meal, which was great, but I realized that we could also say thanks to each other!

The next night we sat down for dinner and I said that I’d like to try a different way of saying thanks. He looked confused, but replied with a tentative, “okay…” I said, “I’m going to tell you something that I’m thankful for about you, and then I’d like you to tell me something that you’re thankful for about me. Let’s hold hands and look at each other.” He looked at me like I was crazy, but played along. 

Michelle: Thanks for coming home for dinner.  
Davin: Umm...Thanks for cooking dinner. It looks delicious.
Michelle: Thanks for encouraging me to go to the gym this morning. I feel great!
Davin: Thank you for taking care of Diego. (our dog)
Michelle: Thanks for saying thanks :)
Davin: This was cool, thanks for having us do this :)

Then he said a brief thank you to God and I expressed thanks for everyone and everything that helped make our meal possible - from the farmers, truck drivers, grocery store clerks, my car, the electricity, etc. - it felt so good!

That was over a year ago, and we love the practice so much we do it almost every night. We say thanks at home and in restaurants. It’s fast, free, and a great way for us to connect with each other.

I admit that some days it’s harder than others (especially if we’ve gotten into a disagreement) but it’s always worth the effort. It turns out that there is scientific evidence that expressing gratitude can strengthen relationships.

Dr. John Gottman at the University of Washington has been researching marriages for almost 25 years and has found that unless a couple is able to maintain a high ratio of positive to negative encounters (5:1 or greater), it's likely the marriage will end.

In under three minutes of observation he can predict which marriages are likely to flourish and which are likely to flounder with 90% accuracy. The formula is that for every negative expression (a complaint, frown, put-down, expression of anger), there needs to be about five positive ones (smiles, compliments, laughter, expressions of appreciation and gratitude).

Saying thanks before a meal is an easy way to boost appreciation and that 5:1 ratio of positive to negative interactions.

Some days I may only find one or two things thank Davin for, and other days I can find five or six, (maybe more). In my experience, it’s always possible to find one thing to be grateful for, and that’s all it really takes.

This practice is great for couples, families, or friends and I encourage everyone to give it a try.

There are no real rules, so do what feels best for you.

The next time you share a meal with someone who isn’t familiar with this way of giving thanks, you can let them know something specific you appreciate about them without any expectation that they will reciprocate. Just know it will feel great for you and just might make their day.

The side effects of gratitude, in general, are plenty.

Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., at the University of California at Davis conducted a study on gratitude and found that people who practiced gratitude felt more positive toward others and their lives in general. They reported greater satisfaction with their lives as a whole, felt more optimism about the upcoming week, and felt considerably more connected with others than did participants in the control group.

When we cultivate an attitude of gratitude, life doesn’t just feel better — it actually gets better.

Gratitude makes us happier, and that has a positive ripple effect on all aspects of our life. Dr. Sonya Lyubomirsky, a research professor at the University of California, has proven that happier people have higher incomes, are more productive, have more satisfying and longer marriages, more friends, stronger social support, more activity, energy, and flow, better physical health (e.g., a bolstered immune system, lowered stress levels, and less pain) and even longer life. Who doesn't want that? 

We all have so much to be grateful for. Do you say thanks before a meal? Did you find this interesting or helpful? I'd love if you let me know in the comments. Also, if you liked this article, please click the like button below!

Grateful for you,

michelle-mccormick
 

P.S. Fun fact: I believe in gratitude so much that I created a line of candles to celebrate it!

How To Prepare For An Emergency

From destructive hurricanes and massive flooding to the devastating earthquake in Mexico to record fires in California.... I mean, damn.

If you had any doubt or forgot how powerful nature is, we’ve gotten one heck of a reminder lately.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about how to prepare for an emergency. I know it’s impossible to prepare for every scenario, but we can do something. I know I could be more prepared, and maybe you can too.

I’ve scoured the internet to find out what the experts recommend. The websites are confusing, and it’s hard to know where to begin. Maybe that’s why so many us don’t have an emergency kit.

I’ve simplified the process for busy people who don’t want to think about creating an emergency kit (but know it’s important).

In case of an emergency, you should have basic items like food, water, first aid supplies, sanitation and hygiene items, tools, clothing, important documents, and contact numbers. They should be compact and accessible. It's often best to put together your own emergency supply kit rather than buying one at a store so you can personalize it.

In addition to items below, consider adding "comfort items" such as coffee or tea, a deck of cards or board games, a bottle of alcohol. If you have children, include toys. I’m including links to products to make it easy, some of which may be affiliate links.  

You should have a kit wherever you spend a majority of your time. We all need at least one kit at home, but if you spend a lot of time in your car or office, consider having a kit there as well. Consider this when purchasing supplies (you may want to purchase multiples). Also, review your kits every year. Replace expired items and update it as your family’s needs change (new baby/pet/health changes/etc).

HOME KITS

Your home kit will consist of a “grab and go” duffle bag packed and available in case you have to leave your home quickly, and a plastic bin or two with home-based supplies. Put all items in airtight plastic bags (like ziplock) to keep them protected.

Keep your kit in a designated place and make sure everyone that lives in the house knows where it is. 

In your bag:  

Emergency Supplies

  • Hand crank radio
  • Powerful Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Whistle (to signal for help)
  • Local maps (if you are a AAA member, you can pick them up for free)
  • Cash (minimum $25)
  • Dust mask (to help filter contaminated air)
  • Copies of I.D. cards, passports, insurance policies, bank account records
  • Photos of family members and pets (in case you are separated)
  • Paper and Pen

Personal Supplies

  • Sturdy shoes to provide protection from broken glass/nails/etc (old sneakers will work)
  • Gloves (heavy and durable for cleaning up debris)
  • Personal Hygiene Kit (soap, toothbrush/toothpaste, brush, deodorant, laundry soap, feminine products)
  • Cell phone charger
  • Essential medications/eyeglasses (if necessary)

In your plastic bin:

Food/Kitchen items

  • Water (2 gallons per person)
  • Food (ideally for 3 days)
    • High energy foods (peanut butter, jelly, crackers, protein bars, trail mix; foods that will not increase thirst)
    • Ready to eat canned food and manual can opener (store in a cool, dry place)
    • Avoid foods like rice, pasta and dry beans that require a great deal of water to prepare.
  • Eating Utensils (1 set of cups, plates, and utensils per person)
  • Baby food (if applicable)
  • Pet food (if applicable)
  • Vitamins
  • Review and restock food once a year.

Home Emergency Supplies

First Aid Kit

I suggest buying a First Aid kit from Amazon and supplementing with what you need. Store your first aid supplies in a waterproof case and keep it freshly stocked.

Here's a small streamlined first aid kit and here is a more comprehensive first aid kit. Both are great options. 
 

WORK KIT

Be prepared for at least 24 hours. Gather the following items and put them in a small bag or backpack that you can keep at your desk.

  • Bottled water (I suggest two 1.5 liter plastic bottles)
  • Nonperishable food (nutrition bars, trail mix)
  • Change of clothes and pair of sturdy shoes (old sneakers will work)
  • Powerful Flashlight
  • Hand crank radio
  • Whistle (to signal for help)
  • Small first aid kit
  • Essential medications/eyeglasses (if necessary)

CAR KIT

In case you are stranded, keep emergency supplies in a small bag or backpack in your trunk. This will make them more convenient if you need to walk.

In your bag:

  • Bottled water (I suggest two 1.5 liter plastic bottles)
  • Nonperishable food (nutrition bars, trail mix)
  • Change of clothes and pair of sturdy shoes (old sneakers will work)
  • Hand crank radio
  • Powerful Flashlight
  • Whistle (to signal for help)
  • Local map and compass
  • Paper and pen
  • Work Gloves
  • Toilet paper
  • Baby wipes
  • First aid kit
  • Blanket
  • Essential medications/eyeglasses (if necessary)

In your trunk:

  • Small fire extinguisher
  • Emergency signal device (light sticks, battery-type flasher, reflector, etc.)
  • Small mirror for signaling
  • Rope for towing, rescue, etc.
  • Tools (pliers, adjustable wrench, screwdriver, etc.)
  • Jumper cables

 

And there you have it! I suggest printing this post and using it as a checklist.

If you found this helpful, let me know by clicking the "like" button below and sharing with friends. If you have anything to add, please leave a comment.

Thanks for reading and being here! Now let's get prepared and hope we never have to use our kits!

michelle-mccormick
 

5 Easy Ways to Prevent Burnout

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Once upon a time, I was burnt out. Constantly tired, running on caffeine and stress. I cared more about my work than I did about myself. 

It seems counterintuitive looking back on it (how could I do my best work when I wasn’t feeling my best?) but I was driven to excel, even if that meant suffering in the process.

After about a year of overworking myself, I started feeling physically sick. I would wake up with migraines several times a month. I felt exhausted no matter how much I slept. I had frequent stomach pains, bloating, and digestion issues. While annoying, these issues weren’t going to stop me.

Eventually, I burned out and realized it was time to take a step back and re-evaluate my priorities.

I learned that you can have a busy, demanding job you love AND take excellent care of yourself. But here's the catch - It’s up to you to put yourself first - you and you alone are responsible for your health and wellbeing. The best part? You can start right now. Small steps can make a big difference. Here are my top five suggestions to get started: 

1 | Turn off email AT night

Even if it’s 11pm to 7am, turn it off and don’t look at it. Put your phone in airplane mode. Give yourself time to completely disconnect. I would check email right before going to sleep and as soon I woke up. It was anxiety inducing and made me completely consumed with my work.  

2 | Exercise

Make time to move your body at least five times a week. Go to the gym Take a class. Get a trainer. Do something to make sure you’re connecting to your body and getting a good sweat. 

3 | Take care of your health

Find a doctor you love, get annual check-ups, and prioritize your health. If something feels off, investigate. Your body is your number one resource. 

4 | Eat well

Eating well is not optional if you want good health and energy. Make healthy foods, have them delivered, or go out of your way to get them. You'll feel better, look better, be more productive, and inspire others around you. 

5 | Be clear on your big life picture

When you love your work, it can be really easy to get consumed with doing well. Unfortunately work can take over, and leave very little room for anything else. Make sure you have a big life plan with short and long term goals, and work towards both. Make time for hobbies. Maybe you want to write, play in a band, make art - whatever it is, this is your life and you can create time for it. If you have a hard time with this (like I did), get support. Hiring a coach can help identify what you want and hold you accountable to change (shameless plug here 😊). 

If you feel like you could be on the verge of burn out, try implementing one of these steps today. If all five feel daunting, try just one. You deserve it. You will benefit, and so will everyone around you. 

I'd love to know - how are you going to take care of yourself this week? 

Rooting for you, 

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