How to manage stress in the build-up to your wedding
29 May 2018
As many of us know, planning a wedding can be stressful, but you don’t have to lose sleep over the tasks ahead. We ask experts in a variety of fields – from fitness to nutrition – on how best to manage pre-wedding stress
You’ve decided to spend the rest of your lives together. Your thoughts are dominated by that dewy-eyed moment when you exchange vows and say “I do”. But long before you get to that point, there’s a potential minefield of obstacles just waiting to trigger your stress points.
So, to help you to arrive at your wedding as a blushing rather than blubbering bride here’s some guidance on self-care and practical steps you can take to stop the stress-monster from rearing its ugly head.
Consider hiring a wedding planner
If the thought of planning a wedding is enough to make you want to elope, then a wedding planner might be the answer. Depending on your budget and your timescale, you might hire a wedding planner to assist in a number of ways.
1 You have plenty of time and you are organised: You may simply need someone to assist on the day, for example, to set up tables and chairs, decorate the marquee, co-ordinate timings and then take everything down and put it away.
2 You are prone to obsessive checking: It might be an idea to bring in a wedding planner three months before the wedding to take the reins. They can help by creating a wedding day timeline as well as taking over communications with venue and suppliers – among other things.
3 You are time poor: If you have the budget for it, are getting married in a hurry or in an unusual venue – or simply don’t relish the thought of planning your own wedding, then a wedding planner is probably the answer.
With 15 years’ experience in local wedding and event planning, Katie and Charlotte of Canterbury-based Black Sheep Events have a number of planning packages that can help to ease stress levels both before and during the big day.
Charlotte says: “All couples can benefit by having a wedding planner. By providing support in organising a wedding, the planner can dramatically reduce the pressure that it inevitably brings – especially with so many options and family opinions to consider.
“From the moment of their engagement, we as wedding planners build wonderful relationships with our couples. We help to support, guide and build their big day from the ground up with our knowledge and experience.”
Katie and Charlotte can help ease the planning process by creating a wedding day timeline, liaising with your venue and suppliers, completing finishing touches and ensuring guests are looked after on the day. Charlotte adds: “Our attention to detail and ability to calmly adapt to any situation keeps our couples and their families relaxed and focused on enjoying their wedding planning experience.”
Look after yourself
Not everyone has time for the gym. In fact, when time is at a premium, the idea of dedicating two hours three times a week to working out might put you off altogether.
High-Intensity Interval Training – HIIT for short – is a way to get your exercise fix without spending precious time away from your planning.
Georgey Stafford is fitness manager at Bannatyne Health Club and Spa, Norwich. The club offers a range of high-intensity classes, from Les Mills classes to Speedflex.
She explains: “Les Mills' BODYATTACK ™ is a high-energy fitness class with moves that cater for total beginners to total addicts. They combine athletic movements like running, lunging and jumping with strength exercises such as push-ups and squats.
“We also offer Speedflex which is limited across the country to specific clubs; this is an all-inclusive, high intensity, low impact class with little or no post-exercise soreness, great for those with little time and lots to do.
“There is no doubt about the fact that exercise makes you feel good, and that is exactly what I would suggest. It gives you the opportunity to have a break from day-to-day stresses to focus on nothing other than getting that heart rate up.”
As for some general tips on how a bride-to-be can best avoid stress, Georgey says:
“My best advice would be to listen to your body, keep your diet consistent, clean and, most importantly, stay hydrated to keep that head as clear as possible. Take half an hour to an hour out of all the busy planning to go to the gym or, if more convenient, work out at home.
“Not only will it give you that boost of endorphins, think how good you will look in that dress after all of the hard work and persistence. But just remember, in fitness, there are no short cuts. It involves discipline and hard work, just like marriage."
Jenna Hope is a London-based nutritionist who believes diet can play a significant role in managing anxiety. Here she offers some helpful advice for brides-to-be who may be feeling overwhelmed and anxious.
Reduce your coffee intake: If you're susceptible to anxiety issues then you may find that your coffee intake is significantly enhancing your anxiety. Research has shown that those who are susceptible to anxiety are also more sensitive to caffeine. I recommend reducing your coffee intake to one a day or swapping coffee for matcha. Matcha contains a compound called L-theanine which generates a calming effect on the brain.
Look after your gut: Yes, this comes up in so many topics associated with nutrition but it's amazing the role the gut plays on your overall health. What we do understand is that stress and anxiety can significantly affect gut health. Opt for prebiotic and probiotic foods including: onions, apples, bananas, garlic, fermented vegetables, yoghurt and kefir to help restore good gut bacteria.
Magnesium: Research has shown a correlation between low magnesium status and an increased risk of anxiety. Opt for foods such as green leafy vegetables, almonds/almond butter, beans, dark chocolate, banana and avocados to ensure you're getting enough magnesium in the diet.
B-vitamins: These vitamins are essential in brain energy metabolism and to ensure adequate blood supply to the brain. As a result, some researchers have suggested that deficiencies in B-vitamins may affect the risk of mental health decline. Foods rich in B-vitamins include quinoa, buckwheat, fish, green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds.
Alcohol: This can alter chemicals in the brain which can contribute to anxiety. Alcohol creates a significant imbalance in serotonin which is responsible for stabilising mood. It's very common to turn to alcohol in social situations to help reduce the anxiety. However, these effects only last for a short period of time. The more you use alcohol to reduce your anxiety the higher your tolerance becomes, increasing the risk for alcohol dependence in social situations.
Life coach Stephanie Varda, a former wedding planner, specialises in stress management and bridal coaching. She says brides often get caught up in the little details of their wedding and forget the things that really matter.
She advises: “The most important thing is to approach your wedding in the right frame of mind. ‘Ditch the Dull and Grow the Glow’ is a saying that you can use to remind yourself that your emotional readiness outweighs things like the colour of the favours.
“Set aside time to reflect on your current thoughts and feelings; how ready are you feeling to get married? When we deal with the bigger emotional issues, we are less likely to stress over the little things.”
Find out more about Stephanie Varda's life coaching packages at www.svardalifecoach.com
Take time out to de-stress
Holistic therapist Ingrid Perrin runs her practice, Rose on the Green, at Fair Green, Diss. Here, she advises on how to use aromatherapy, with or without massage, as a technique to use in the build-up to your big day.
“Aromatherapy not only relieves stress but is an indulgent and easy way to carve out an hour of calm here and there in all the whirl of booking and checking arrangements.
“A good aromatherapist will be able to make up a blend to your personal preference (you need to love the essential oils used) and to the correct strength. Methods include diffusing, or using oils in the bath, on a tissue (very effective at moments of high stress) or in a little glass roller bottle to pop into your handbag.
"Special occasion oils include precious rose otto, jasmine and sandalwood. For unwinding in the evening, you could burn a few drops of Roman chamomile and ylang-ylang in the diffuser. Frankincense is also good for slowing the breath and restoring a sense of peace and makes a beautiful blend with rose or lavender.
“A regular massage is always beneficial, and you can offload all the little niggles as well as share the fun moments with your therapist. During the run-up, you can increase the frequency according to time and budget.”
Ingrid advises that you stick to the style of massage you like or book for a regular Swedish or aromatherapy massage. “If you’re pressed for time, Indian head massage takes only 25 minutes and is sure to help you empty your head of day-to-day worries. Book a couple of sessions in for the fortnight before the main day and stick to them come what may – you’ll be pleased you did.
“You could also consider booking in a pair of massage therapists to give massages to your hens during your hen event – they’ll definitely appreciate it.”
Finally, as the title of a best-selling self-help book proclaims: Don’t sweat the small stuff. Avoid fighting fires by dealing with important tasks before they become urgent; don’t forget to delegate; avoid procrastination, trust your helpers – and you can kiss goodbye to pre-wedding stress.