Changing Together and Finding Ourselves

At the end of January 2017, my husband and I were married for a year and six months. It wasn’t until those last six months, though, that we started finding ourselves together – as a married couple.

Leaving home doesn't mean that you drop everything you were taught - but sometimes it's better that we branch out and do our own thing. These are some things my husband and I have changed together.

The first year of marriage, everything was different. New town (for me), new people (also for me), new home (for both of us) and of course new lifestyle – neither of us has ever been married before, or lived with a partner before. That first year was a lot of adjustment. Even though we both felt that our marriage seemed to come naturally – it didn’t really seem strange to live together, or wake up in the same bed; it seemed right – we were still learning how to live together. So during that time, we primarily did what our parents did when we were growing up – shopping in a similar way, spending the way our parents did, doing the things we had watched our parents doing.

After Time Away:

A year and a half later couldn’t be more different from how we started. These past six months we have found our own routines and preferences, things neither of our parents did (or that we are aware of them ever doing).

  • We buy “fancy” cheese (a few we have tried include “blueberry vanilla goat cheese” – a favorite, “rosemary and olive oil asiago cheese” and “balsam and fig goat cheese” – yum) a few times a month at the grocery store, and eat it on mini toasts – a fun semi-healthy snack that allows us to try many new flavors.

 

  • Also, we go to a “cultural” restaurant once a month. For us that means choosing a restaurant outside of our culture/experiences/and sometimes our comfort zone to try other foods. We tried a Thai restaurant due to starting this practice, and LOVE it! Hopefully we will be trying an Indian restaurant soon.
Different Spending Patterns:
  • Shopping for clothes once a month, regardless of whether we need clothes, helps our budget. There is a price limit that we can spend per person a month. It does NOT roll over to the next month. Growing up, we outgrew or wore out our clothes close to the same time. Then we had to go buy new clothes all at once. With our method, we always have clothes that are in good shape/fit us and can spread out the clothes buying. It’s also kind of fun, and if we are particularly broke one month, it wouldn’t be a big deal to simply not buy new clothes that month.

 

  • We have budget meetings where we sit down and discuss our spending and financial situation together once a month. Sometimes we miss a month when it is particularly busy, but then the next budget meeting we do the month we missed as well.
Branching Out with Dinners:
  • We don’t necessarily eat the same dinner every night (or even most nights). When my husband lived at home, he ate whatever his mom fixed for dinner. When I lived at home, I usually fixed dinner and could choose what I wanted to fix within reason. Everyone ate it and would complain if a certain meal was featured too often.

The first year of marriage especially, I made dinner nearly every night (or we had leftovers, but those were usually lunch, not dinner) and we ate the same things. A year and six months later, I usually prepare dinner about once a week (except for special occasions). I cook a big casserole/pot/whatever and we enjoy those leftovers when desired. Other than that, we “fend for ourselves”.

If I’m preparing something I offer to fix him some of what I’m having, but if he isn’t interested he makes himself a sandwich, a bowl of tuna salad (we eat just the filling with no bread), has cereal, or eats a leftover out of the refrigerator. Usually I make myself a salad, since salad is my favorite food. We keep fresh broccoli, tomatoes, bell pepper, and lettuce/spinach in the refrigerator for these salads. When I cut up the produce, I slice the broccoli stems (he doesn’t mind them), a few pieces of the broccoli head, and some bell pepper and bag it for him to snack on later.

 

  • Many of our meals are meatless, which kind of goes along with the point above. This is not because we do not enjoy meat, but because meatless meals are much more affordable. We both come from families where meat is featured in virtually every dinner.
Loving Where We are Headed Together:

These are some of the ways that we have differed in our marriage than from either of our parent’s marriages. I’m interested to see where we are six months or a year from now; if we have kept these practices or established new ones. These practices are fun, but spending ones can also easily be dropped for a month or so if money is tight. They are especially meaningful to me, however, because they make us more unique as a couple. We are not “following our parent’s footsteps” – we are striking out on a different path and finding our own place together.

 

How has your lifestyle changed if you are living on your own or together with a partner?

 

Basics for Reheating Leftovers

After a recent post on why leftovers are wonderful, I was considering reasons people may not like leftovers. It occurred to me that if leftovers are not reheated properly, that could cause them to not be very good. Thus, I plan to do an overview of how to reheat different types of foods, based on the successes my husband and I have had with these methods.

Leftovers can be a delicious way to reduce stress (not having to cook dinner!) but only if you reheat them well.

Reheating Leftovers:

There are different techniques for reheating different types of foods, but here I focused on the basics of microwaving to get great results:

Soups/Stews/Chowders
  • Usually can be reheated as is using the microwave, or in a small saucepan on the stovetop. If you choose to reheat on the stovetop you may need to add a little water, milk, or broth (depending on the base). Keep in mind that even though leftovers like these tend to thicken up when they are refrigerated for storing, they get thinner again as they are heated. Adding too much liquid for heating or heating too quickly could make these leftovers less desirable. Start with a small amount of liquid if necessary, and heat over low heat.
Breads/Baked Goods
  • Most of these leftovers that have only been sitting for a day will be fine gently microwaved for about 15 seconds (depending on size). Keep in mind that this option will NOT crisp up anything that was originally crispy. For those, you would want to use a toaster, a toaster oven, a Nuwave style oven, or your home oven. If the leftover has been sitting long enough to be dry, then cover or wrap it in a damp (not dripping!) paper towel before microwaving. Do not use the paper towel method with any heat source other than the microwave. Keep in mind that breads and baked goods tend to have some of the shortest shelf-lives as “good” leftovers.
Pasta/Rice/Grain Dishes 
  • Much like the aforementioned soup leftovers, you may want to add a small amount of liquid to these leftovers when you reheat them. The liquid (usually milk, broth, or water) depends on the base of the dish. For instance, macaroni and cheese is better if you stir in a small amount of milk before microwaving. It is even more important to use small amounts of added liquid with these dishes, because most people don’t want watery pasta. If you do happen to mistakenly add too much liquid, you can carefully dab it off with a paper towel or drain it off.
Meat Based Leftovers 
  • Leftovers that are mainly meat also reheat better with a little bit of liquid (usually water) added before microwaving. You can also try using a microwave cover* over the dish to help keep moisture safely in or cover with a damp paper towel (as seen for breads). A little bit of gravy if it was originally on the meat could also help keep it moist as it is reheated.
Cooked Vegetables 
  • Added liquid being beneficial to leftover vegetables usually depends on how they were cooked, and if they are straight vegetables or a vegetable based dish. Straight vegetables are usually okay microwaved without any added liquid. For a vegetable based dish, it would be better to see which category above it most closely follows. Then adhere to those general guidelines.

With all of these, experiment (safely) and do what works best for you. There is often more than one way to accomplish the same goal (I.E. reheat leftovers).

 

*NOTE*  Microwave covers are specially designed with steam holes AND are microwave safe. Please be careful what you use as a cover. They are generally used to prevent splatter in your microwave.

P.S. Leftovers might not be good after reheating if the person who made the leftovers needs a little more practice. This should be easy to figure out if the meal wasn’t very good before saving. Don’t be afraid to go to tutorial videos or food blogs for help. Practice is essential as well.

Relieving Stress: 8 Reasons Leftovers Are Wonderful

Day to day life gives more stress than many feel possible to bear. Why do we add even more stress by adhering to some mysterious obligation to cook every night? It is possible to not eat out, and also not cook every night … and that is where leftovers come into play. You still get the delicious healthiness of a homemade meal (because it is homemade!) without the pressure of needing a plan for dinner every night of the week.

There is so much to love about leftovers, and yet many people despise them. Here's 8 reasons they are wonderful!

Two Sides:

When it comes to leftover food from meals, there seems to be two main sides: the lovers, and the …eh hem … people who are most definitely not fond of them. It is always shocking to me when people who hate leftovers and can’t afford to go out to eat often also hate cooking (but are good cooks). If the person who created the meal is a good cook, then why would the leftovers not be enjoyable? There are often times when dishes are good the first night, but even better as leftovers (because the flavors have had more time to meld).

Reasons Leftovers Are Great Options:
  • They provide a homemade meal that takes little effort to reheat (hello, microwave!) – great for busy adults
  • Homemade leftover meals are typically much healthier than fast food or frozen meals (and you can control how healthy/unhealthy they are when the meal is initially prepared)
  • If you loved the meal the first time, you can enjoy the same dish again without having to make it again.
  • Making a big batch of a meal and eating it as leftovers throughout the week is usually cheaper than preparing just enough food for the first meal.
  • When you make big batches, you can easily use up larger quantities of ingredients and not have to worry about how to use them, or about leftover ingredients going bad in the refrigerator.
  • Some leftovers (like soup) can even be frozen and reheated months later when you want it again (a great option if it’s a meal you don’t want often).
  • You can save money on your utility bills by reheating leftovers instead of turning on the oven to cook a fresh meal – using inside ovens heats up your home and makes your air conditioning work harder (raising your electric bill).
  • Preparing food to eat as leftovers throughout the week can help you stick to a diet or healthy eating plan more easily – if you can quickly reheat a healthy meal and assuage your hunger, you are less likely to eat quick (often unhealthy) snacks that happen to be nearby OR get so hungry that you binge eat.

Are you sold yet? I’ll give you some time to think it over …

Why I’m Saying “No” to Seeing the Doctor

Before we go too far, let me reassure you – the doctor in this case is a medical doctor, not a psychiatrist. Feeling reassured? Good!

After years of appointments that never find a diagnosis or a solution, I'm done agreeing to be poked and prodded for various tests. I'm saying "no" to seeing the doctor.

Issues That Don’t Leave

For as long as I can remember, I have had a few issues that have never gone away – despite countless doctor visits and more medicine than I care to remember. One of these issues is earaches. My ears hurt almost constantly, and the pain only alternates between ‘ignorable’, ‘tolerable’ and ‘unbearable’. It is worse at night, since I sleep on my side. My pillows are arranged oddly for this purpose – layered with one overlapping the other so there is less pressure on my ear when I sleep. I can’t stand to put things in my ears, but I have over the counter ear drops for pain when it is unbearable.

Migraines are also an issue for me (when I don’t have a migraine I almost always have a headache), and stomach problems (meaning throwing up a lot and not being able to help it). Both of these come and go and sometimes seem to be connected. (If I have a migraine I often start to throw up. Earaches can also make me throw up if the pain is bad enough.) Unfortunately, the throwing up happens much more often than the migraines do. Growing up, getting sick constantly was a problem for several years – and no, I did not have any eating disorder. The older I’ve gotten, the longer the breaks are between ‘episodes’ – I might go months without throwing up, but then throw up almost daily for weeks.

Doctors and Tests

My concerned parents took me to doctor after doctor. These doctors would recommend specialists, who would order all kinds of tests – with no noteworthy result (other than costing lots of money). They had all kinds of ‘answers’ – acid reflux, my stomach empties slowly, blah blah blah – but no answers to the migraines, headaches, or earaches. Well, no answers other than, “these aren’t physical problems” (it’s all in your head).

Even for the intense earaches, I have only been diagnosed with an ear infection once. Two years ago, a doctor looked into my ears (years after the only ear infection diagnosis) and mentioned I had a lot of scarring on my eardrums. Doesn’t that indicate that this IS a physical problem? Isn’t that some kind of proof that this is not all in my head?! This has always been a losing battle, though, and I have given up.

Chronic Illness

I have family (not blood related, marriage related) with chronic illnesses. 90% of the time, anything I hear about them is that they are in the hospital, seeing a doctor, or having some kind of test run. They have an official diagnosis for their problem, (which took years to get) and they still don’t have a solution! (Unless you count enough prescriptions that they could open their own pharmacy). In their case, going to the doctor and receiving treatment is life or death. They still have more problems than they started with, though, due to all of the medications they are on. Obese? Check. Nerve damage? Check. I could go on, but I’ll spare you. My point is, I have a choice.

Not Life or Death

Earaches, migraines, headaches, vomiting – they are miserable – but they are not life or death. I can decide whether or not to be a human guinea pig for a doctor that has no idea why I’m sick (and probably won’t figure it out for a long time, if ever). Doctors had their chance to help me. YEARS of chances. From everything I have seen about chronic problems, though, they do not go away. The reason doctors can’t figure out what is wrong, is because they don’t have a solution. Sure, they can prescribe something for the pain, but I have over the counter pain killers for that. After years of doctors visits and testing, I would rather rely on pain killers that don’t entirely kill the pain than doctors with their bundle of prescriptions and all of the tests they want to run.

With over the counter pain medicine, I don’t need a doctor, or insurance, or to wait in a waiting room for an hour. An appointment isn’t necessary, and I don’t have to keep hearing that since the doctor can’t figure out what is wrong (and doesn’t want to admit it) that it’s all in my head. I don’t have to suffer the side effects from the prescription medicines, and I’m saving a crap ton of money. Yes, the pain is miserable – but so are doctors that don’t know what the problem is.

I HAVE A CHOICE.

My situation is not life or death. I will not be a guinea pig for doctors to poke and prod until they think they know the problem.

Goodbye, doctors.

 

Sincerely,

A Frustrated Ex-Patient

Friends: Thanksgiving Gratefuls

Mental illnesses can be a lonely road. We are often surrounded by people who don’t understand, by people that want to believe we are ‘normal’. Can you believe that Thanksgiving is next week? Families get together, and friends might throw a party or have a nice meal.

Even when everything is going wrong, there is usually something to be grateful for. Since I had a long list, I narrowed it down to one thing in particular to share with all of you.

No Pressure: YOU Decide

Major holidays like Thanksgiving can be devastating for the mentally ill. Sometimes, the people who should understand better than anyone – they grew up with us! They raised us! – understand the least of all. It is not uncommon for people with mental illnesses to be estranged from family members. Remember, Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be a gathering with your family. You can join your friends with one of their families, or have a celebration of your own with friends. You can even volunteer at a Thanksgiving celebration hosted for the homeless or needy. We all have different paths to walk, different lives that we’ve led. Don’t feel shamed into spending Thanksgiving alone if you don’t want to – and don’t feel forced into being around people on Thanksgiving if you don’t want to. 

Gratefuls:

Soon (if it isn’t already), the internet will be buzzing with everything people are grateful for. Thanksgiving is about being thankful, after all. I have a long list of gratefuls, so I will share only one (for now):

friends.

As a person who is not very social, I have very few friends. I can count them on one hand, with fingers left over. That’s not the important part, though. The important part is that I have friends who are willing to be there when I need them. When they need me, I return the favor.

One In Particular:

Fortunately, one of my friends works nights – which means that even when he isn’t at work, he’s awake at crazy hours. I can text him at one a.m., and he will answer – even if it’s a ridiculous reason.

He doesn’t know why I text him at odd hours – but it’s okay. There doesn’t need to be a reason discussed. (Although he knows I have a mental illness, sometimes it’s nice to pretend that everything is normal. There is no reason to tell him every time I hallucinate.) He doesn’t know that I texted him at one in the morning last night because there were people surrounding me in the dark room. That I was texting him for a distraction while waiting for my sleep aid to kick in and make me sleepy enough to ignore what I saw around me. It’s okay, though.

This Thanksgiving, I am grateful for people who we call friends. People who we can text at one in the morning when we’re scared to death, and people we can hang out with and watch a movie. There are so many good friends out there, and this is my shoutout to them.

Do you have friends you can rely on, that know your struggles and are still there for you? Give them a shoutout!

 

Being Productive: Benefits of Tithing

Although Christians are typically the group encouraged to tithe, there can be benefits for everyone – Christian or non-Christian. Just keep in mind that Christians would have different reasons for giving than non-Christians. Tithing can even give people a sense of being productive, of doing something of worth (for a non-religious person, this would likely be similar to giving to a charity). For people with mental illnesses, being productive can be extremely helpful in providing a sense of worth. Note that there are other ways to be productive and feel worthwhile, this is simply one option. Giving to a church is a choice that should be done with the right attitude. 

While tithing is typically labeled as a Christian activity, non-religious people can choose to give money to a church as well (for different reasons). Here are reasons to tithe, as benefits both the church being tithed and the tither.

Benefits of tithing can be divided into who they help; the person tithing or the church receiving the tithe (this post will only discuss tithing to churches, not other organizations). While this could be further divided into believers and non-believers, I do not think that is necessary.

Benefits of Tithing for the Church:
  • supports keeping the church’s doors open by helping keep bills paid
  • Enables students to get volunteer hours through the church (by keeping church doors from permanently closing)
  • can fund various missions, whether local or foreign
  • can help fund community outreach (which could make new believers, but also reaches needs in the community)
  • can help stock a food pantry (many churches donate food to those in need in the community)
  • can help the church pay staff to support services for members, such as child care during church services, or counseling
Benefits of Tithing to the Tither:
  • Christians who tithe 10% or more with the right attitude would be showing Biblical obedience (Malachi 3:8-10)
  • Christians can also receive blessings for tithing properly (see above, or Luke 6:38)
  • tithing is tax deductible
  • can help the individual feel more productive
  • the individual knows their money is going to a good place (many churches have business meetings regularly in which the congregation can see where their tithes are going)
  • if the money goes to the church, it is not burning the proverbial hole in the individual’s pocket – it cannot be spent wastefully if the individual does not have it (which could help some individuals fight addictions)

Clearly, individuals will have to decide for themselves whether or not to give money to the church. Individuals that prefer to give to organizations other than churches have plenty of options, and plenty of causes to choose from. This is by no means an exhaustive list of benefits.

See you next week,

Nicole

From a Delusional Mind

Trouble Begins (or continues):

For about a month now, I’ve only been taking half of my prescribed dosage of medicine in order to stretch my remaining medicine further. This is due to insurance issues related to our recent move. Unfortunately, lowering my intake of medicine that already wasn’t working very well (of course) has not had very good results. (*Cough* delusional *Cough*).

A symptom I only just realized, right before typing this, has been rather frequent: delusions. I’ve known for quite a while that my beliefs didn’t make any logical sense, and yet I still firmly believe them – even after this realization. My thoughts are so chaotic and confused – I know they don’t make sense, that my beliefs can’t be real, but I cannot shake them.

It's not a secret that those diagnosed with a mental illness can often be delusional, and I am no exception. Running out of medicine, and living on half of my dosage, symptoms are returning full force. In 'From A Delusional Mind', you can read some of the delusions that I can't quite shake off.

 

Delusional Thoughts:

It’s stupid beliefs, too. One in particular is that my fingernails are starting to flatten out (before they had a rather nice, rounded curve) because in high school I thought one of my friend’s fingernails weren’t very good (she had flat fingernails). For perspective, I have been out of high school for about five years. Even though I know it doesn’t make sense, I keep thinking that my fingernails are flattening because I’m being punished for being so critical of her fingernails.

Other nonsensical beliefs relate to my gaining weight, and even problems people I know are having. Without giving too many details, someone I know is going through a tough time, and I keep thinking she’s being punished because of something I complained about. Mind you, I only complained to my husband, and regretted the decision after. Not because my husband would say something (he wouldn’t), but because complaining doesn’t fix anything. Aside from that, complaining leaves a bad taste in my mouth. That’s not the person I want to be (it’s something I’m working on).

Nonsensical, but Still Real:

These pointless thoughts keep circling around in my head, keeping me awake and convincing me that I’m being punished; even that the people I care about are being punished because of me. As I have said far too many times already, these thoughts don’t make sense. I can’t shake them, though. They are firmly rooted and refusing to let go. Knowing something isn’t real isn’t enough to allow me to believe it isn’t real.

This doesn’t even make sense to me, but I suppose that’s to expected. Not much makes sense to me anymore. This thoroughly sucks, but there is little that can be done at the moment. Here’s hoping you are far less delusional than I am.

Sincerely,

A Delusional Mind

Reducing Stress: Talking to Someone without Judging

Living with a mental illness requires coping skills to keep symptoms in check or to control existing symptoms. A great way to help reduce symptoms is to reduce stress! Being stressed out over judging others is completely preventable.

I was sick and tired of hating myself for judging others, but I still couldn't seem to help myself. When I told my husband, he told me this tip that has definitely changed the way I look at other people. We don't have to judge others, we simply haven't taught ourselves not to. You can teach yourself, though, and it's easy.

 

Judging – An Embarrasing Confession:

A while back my husband and I were talking, and I happened to mention how hard it was to look at someone and not be judging them by the way they looked. I know, I know – awful, right? While I didn’t typically say anything to the person about it, the thoughts were in my head – and I hated myself for it.

As a woman, it seems natural to look at other people and critique the way they dress, fix their hair, or do their makeup. Do they wear loud, patterned clothes? Bulky jewelry? Is their hair messy? Is their makeup obnoxious? There are so many ways to look at someone else and decide what we think of him or her – before they even open their mouth.

For me, it was mainly a problem with other women. I would compare myself with them. Am I thinner, or are they? Who dresses better? Is my makeup better or is theirs? Is their skin clearer? There are so many problems with judging another person, though. We all have different tastes, for one. You may like bulky jewelry – but I, for one, do not. I don’t wear makeup often, but many women in our culture wear it every day. Some people wear nice clothes, while I am happiest in a pair of jeans and a tank top. We are all different. It’s really unfair to judge someone by our preferences, when they have their own preferences which influence how they look.

A Simple Trick:

To help with this problem, my husband shared the trick that helps him not judge others with me.

Make and sustain eye contact.

Really, that’s it. Super simple. The reason this works is, if you are looking into someone’s eyes while they talk or you talk to them, you aren’t looking at their clothes or their hair. You can’t easily see their shoes or jewelry. Oh, and by the way – people have really pretty eyes. There are different colors and shades in different people’s eyes, and long and short eyelashes – something we typically miss when critiquing someone else’s appearance.

This may make some people uncomfortable, but it helps build trust between you and that person. We are so accustomed to distractions – phones, computers, televisions – that we are missing out on each other.

If you have any tips for not judging people in other situations, I’d love to hear them. Trying to be more Christ-like is a constant struggle, and help is most definitely welcome.

Reducing Stress: Making Your Relationship Stronger

Anyone in a serious relationship can definitely tell you that the interaction between his or herself with their loved one can be stressful. Cortisol, the stress hormone, inhibits and can even shut down the frontal lobe of the brain. When cortisol does so, it hinders or temporarily halts “… appropriate behavioral responses to external and internal stimuli.” (Buchsbaum, 2004). That means that the mirror neurons involved in mimicking a smile, receiving a kiss, etc. might not function correctly. As just one potential example, can you imagine going in for a hug – but instead of the usual response you get the cold shoulder? Of course, I am referring to times when this would not be a typical reaction (i.e. when your partner is mad at you.)

When a mental illness is already on the relationship playing field, an unexpected reaction to stimuli has a greater potential of occurring. Adding cortisol to the mix can make things even more difficult. If you plan on being involved for the long haul (and even if you don’t) it is definitely beneficial to learn to make your relationship stronger.

My husband and I dated for 4 years, were engaged for 4 months, and now have been married a year (at the first of next month). During that time, we have learned about each other and what it takes to make a relationship work. Yes, there is more to learn, but I thought I’d share some of what I’ve already learned with all of you.

My husband and I dated for 4 years. We were engaged for 4 months ... and now we have been married for a little over a year  - we've learned quite a bit together. Here are some of the things we've learned that were so important to the health of our relationship that we decided to share them with you.

 

Relationship Tips:
  • Budget together. When my husband and I first got married, he did all of the budgeting alone. I had no idea how much money was available and therefore was not watching what I spent very closely. We have recently started having a budget meeting at the end of each month for the next month (using Dave Ramsey’s Financial Plan Found in Total Money Makeover) and now I’m much more careful about spending. I’ve even come up with different ways to save money (like making homemade toothpaste). This is time we spend together, but it also helps our relationship because knowing where our money is going helps us get along and reduces stress about finances. Bonus: budgeting together helps build trust because you know where your partner is spending money and can agree on it.

 

  • Cuddle after sex. I cannot stress how important this is enough. My husband makes sure to spend time lying in bed with me after sex; as a result I feel loved and valued. If he did not cuddle afterwards, I would feel used and taken advantage of – because he wants my body and not me. Especially since my primary love language is physical touch, this speaks volumes to me. Even if your love language is something else, though – don’t just have sex and jump in the shower. Show your special someone that you love them for more than their body. Stay and cuddle for a short time. Someone I know just got married recently, and when the men left the room, one of the first things she asked me about was sex. She wanted to know if my husband left for the shower immediately after, too. If I could give any advice to any married couple, this would be it.
Don’t Forget:
  • Make sure your partner’s needs are being met. I try to regularly ask my husband if he feels loved. If your partner says no, ask them what you can do to make them feel loved. This helps you learn selflessness because you are showing concern for your partner and their needs.

 

  • Learn your partner’s love languages. This goes along with meeting your partner’s needs. Love languages tell you how your partner feels love, so you can better meet his or her needs. For example, my husband’s primary love language is quality time. I know spending time with him watching a movie or talking will make him feel loved.

 

  • Compromise on preferences. If your partner wants to do something and you want to do something else, try to come to an agreement about it. For example, if my husband wants to play a card game and I want to cuddle, I will play the game in exchange for cuddles. Sometimes I play extra games that were not required simply out of love for my husband – but I still get cuddles or whatever we agreed upon later. This does not mean require them to do what you want every time they want you to do something; it simply means that if you cannot come to an agreement otherwise, this is usually a good option. It should not be every time, though. It’s good to do things simply out of love, with no requirements.

My husband and I are far from perfect, and are most definitely still learning. Hopefully these tips will help you along your relationship journey, though.

Resources

Buchsbaum, M. S. (2004). Frontal Cortex Function. American Journal of Psychiatry, 161(12), 2178.

Reducing Stress: 9 Tips for a Move

Being really stressed out can cause an increase in symptoms for someone with a mental illness, and sometimes even preparing to move is an unbearable amount of stress. Short of hiring someone to do everything for you, it is pretty much unavoidable to have some stress – but we can still reduce how much.

If you are moving soon, Pinterest is your best friend. There are a crazy amount of ideas out there that are super helpful. My husband and I just moved at the end of last month. I was packing a month beforehand, trying to be prepared, and my husband waited until the week of the move. In the end, we left hours later than planned because there was still so much left to pack on moving day … which brings me to my first tip…Moving to a new place is already crazy as is - new friends, new home, new job ... the last thing you need on your plate is more stress. These tips aim to decrease your stress levels and help you have a calmer time with moving - from someone who has moved multiple times.

 

Tips for a Move:
  • It sounds obvious, but DO NOT wait until the last minute. It makes everything so much more stressful when you are in a hurry and can’t leave because not everything is loaded into the truck.

 

  • Declutter. I wish we had done this before we moved. Filling a 15 foot truck to the very top is embarrassing when it is just two people. I definitely felt judged when our friends opened the truck, saw our things, and commented, “do two people really need this much stuff?” No. They don’t. We plan on decluttering (a little too late, now that we’ve already embarrassed ourselves) and it is definitely easier to fit your things in a truck when you’ve eliminated or stored useless items.

 

  • Use a moving app if you have a smartphone (BoxMeUp is the app I used). The app I used (and loved so much I’m going to use it every time I move) was totally free for android and very useful. You name or number the boxes, identify a location, and list the items in the box. Yes, this IS time consuming. Plan accordingly. My husband was complaining about it making packing take longer, because I insisted on listing the items in the box, but now that we’ve moved we know where everything is without opening any boxes. This is especially helpful because we are living with someone else while looking for an apartment, and don’t need most of our things. Now I don’t have to open unneeded boxes and have to repack them later … I simply check the items in the box on the app, decided whether or not the box is necessary, and deal with it accordingly. My husband has definitely changed his tune on the app being worth it or not!
Plan Ahead:
  • If someone you do not know is moving your things, NUMBER your boxes. Do not list the items on the box. Keep a master list of what items are in what number box (or use an app instead of a list). That way, no one knows which box contains valuables so items are less likely to be stolen. If you’re using an app, use a number instead of a name, and write the number on the box with a marker.

 

  • Bribe your friends to help load (and maybe even drive) the truck. It’s one less person to pay (and if you do pay them, it’s cheaper). Most friends can be bribed with a pizza or something to eat, and you get to spend time together. We actually had a relative drive the U-haul, and friends helped us load and unload the truck.
Please:
  • If you plan on moving again soon and have room, SAVE YOUR BOXES. We saved nearly every box we brought with us from our first move, and almost all of the boxes from items bought online. This is easy to do if you break the boxes down, and then re-tape them when you’re actually ready to move. In the end, we actually had one extra box. If you can’t save your boxes, consider donating or selling them on craigslist. People are always looking for boxes for moves. You can also usually find boxes for your move on craigslist, usually for cheap.

 

  • DO NOT get your boxes from grocery stores if you can avoid it. Although this did not happen to me, I read that the warehouses tend to be infested with roaches. The roaches lay eggs in the boxes, and when the eggs hatch your house now has a roach problem. You are welcome to test this out for yourself to see if it actually happens, but having seen enough filthy stores I really don’t want to risk it.

 

  • Using your app or master list, organize boxes by which ones need to be opened immediately and which can wait.

 

  • Pinterest can help you pack items more efficiently. I don’t want to rehash tips that are already abundant there, so go check it out! I have a moving board with some great ideas if you are short on time and need them in one place. My Moving Board on Pinterest.

Happy moving! Don’t forget to treat yourself once you’re settled!