When I first began mindbodybride I surveyed dozens of newly engaged women asking if they would benefit from bridal-focused fitness and nutrition advice. While everyone responded with an overwhelming ‘yes’, I was surprised to find that sculpting their ideal body was not actually their top priority. Instead, the vast majority of respondents said their number one concern was how to manage stress during the wedding planning process.
That’s right – 90% of the women I surveyed told me that they would rather know how to relax and enjoy their engagement experience than be given a blueprint to create their bridal-babe body. This makes sense total sense – it’s very difficult to achieve your fitness goals or even feel excited about your wedding if you’re too stressed.
Here’s what some of these “blushing” brides from my original survey had to say. Perhaps you can relate…
“The stress of wedding planning has caused some really dumb fights between my fiance and myself. I just wonder if I am alone in this?”
“This whole planning process is literally creating a nausea-inducing amount of stress…”
“All I can think about lately is how much there is still to get done.”
“If I’m honest, I’m not even excited about the wedding. I thought there would be time for anticipation and expectation but I’m just too busy and tired.”
I totally get it because planning my own wedding was really stressful. Prior to getting engaged I had imagined tasting cake, sipping champagne, and giggling with girlfriends while addressing the invitation envelopes. While there was some of that, in reality there was also a bunch of late night emails, family disagreements and financial sacrifices.
What I found particularly stressful was creating an event that reflected our personalities as a couple, while still keeping with the traditions of our parents and wowing our guests in the process. On this last point, social media has done amazing things for wedding planning, but it has also opened up a can of comparison worms that can be rather hard to ignore. You might feel pressured into springing for those over-budget centerpieces because you want to exceed your guests’ expectations of your wedding.
Click To Tweet: 90% of readers say that learning how to manage stress would be the ultimate bridal gift.
Chances are that your wedding is also not the only one you will be attending this year. This can increase your financial pressure as well as filling you with self-doubt – will your event be as good as your friend’s?
All of this can turn what should be one of the most enjoyable experiences of your adult life (your engagement) into a time of tiffs and tears.
I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be that way. About halfway through my two year engagement I realized that I was going about it all wrong, I would never have the opportunity to be a bride again and I made the decision to not let stress eat up my time and energy. After all, I knew that I was very much in love with my husband and this would be my one shot at the wedding rodeo so I wanted to make the most of it.
Let’s Change The Experience
It’s amazing that something as simple as a reframe – a conscious decision to think and feel a different way – can change the experience and the outcome of a situation. Everything felt easier once I made the decision to let go of my wedding planning anxiety and simply enjoy my engagement.
I want to help you feel excited and calm about planning your own wedding day, so today I’m sharing a really cool exercise to help you cope with stress as it arises.
This exercise is part of my Stress Toolbox, a series of mindfulness techniques, time management skills and daily routines that I have created to help brides deal with the pressure of wedding planning and allow them to get on with enjoying their engagement.
I originally discovered the breathing technique 4,7,8 through Andrew Weil in 2013 and have since used it to manage anxiety, to refocus and even to help induce sleep; it is something that you can do anytime, anywhere.
The benefit of breathing in this way is that it acts as a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system. Unlike anxiety medications that lose their effectiveness over time, this breathing exercise actually becomes more powerful and brings even greater results with repetition and practice.
When To Do This Exercise
I encourage you to use the 4, 7, 8 Breath at least twice a day. You can do it in the morning to prepare for your day and again in the evening to help you sleep. I also recommend implementing this exercise anytime that you feel something is upsetting you, or if you become aware of internal tension in your body. Some examples of when you might need to practice this technique include:
- When your mother in law calls to disapprove of your signature cocktail choice.
- When it’s one week until your RSVP date and you’re still waiting on 40 responses.
- When you printed your invitations but then your coordinator recommends starting an hour earlier.
- When your bridesmaids can’t seem to get on, even though it’s your bachelorette weekend.
- When your sister-in-law steals the show at your engagement party by announcing that she’s pregnant….
How To Do This Exercise
- Sit in an upright position with your back straight
- Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise (it feels a little awkward at first but you quickly get the hang of it)
- Close your mouth and inhale through your nose for a count of four
- Hold your breath for a count of seven
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound for a count of eight
- This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three times for a total of four breaths
The absolute time you spend on each phase is not important; the ratio of 4:7:8 is important. You might need to start with faster breaths but overtime I encourage you to slow each breath phase down and get used to inhaling and exhaling more deeply.
Now It’s Your Turn
Let me know in the comments below what is the biggest stressor in your planning process at the moment. Then incorporate this technique into your daily routine anytime that stress comes up. I I feel confident that you will feel better equipped to manage that stress and bring light-hearted anticipation back into your engagement.
By the way, if you would like to get all the benefits of managing your stress, enjoying your engagement and still creating the bridal-babe body that you desire you should check out my Bridal Elite Wellness Program. I currently only have four spaces available for new clients and I think you would benefit immensely if you are feeling overwhelmed with the pressure of trying to stay healthy and stress-free during the wedding planning process.
Until next time…simply breathe.