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MENTAL HEALTH

by Tesni Rowlands

Getting engaged and planning your wedding can be an exciting time. Yet the reality of long to-do lists, personal expectations, financial strain and balancing external pressure from friends and family can be incredibly stressful and have a negative impact on your mental health. According to a recent survey,  96% of couples said that planning their wedding was stressful, and 40% of those couples categorized wedding planning as “extremely stressful.” Without careful consideration, stress associated with wedding planning can impact your day-to-day wellbeing as well as your ongoing mental health. Clinical psychologist Tesni Rowlands shares several useful tips to assist you to take care of your mental health throughout the wedding planning process and beyond. 

Let go of having the ‘perfect wedding’ 

In the age of carefully curated images that flood social media, many couples feel pressure to create a ‘picture perfect’ day. Many of us have spent endless hours imagining how our perfect wedding will look, combing Google, Pinterest and Instagram photos for inspo and screenshotting gorgeous weddings we long to recreate. When we face the reality of planning our own wedding, the pressure of striving for our idea of the ‘perfect wedding’ will almost certainly lead to stress and disappointment. Rather than pouring energy into ensuring every detail of your wedding is ‘perfect’, start by discussing with your partner what you both feel is most important and what is least important. Next write a list of things which are out of your control (e.g. weather, restrictions, what other people think). Agree as a couple to only invest your time and energy into what is important and what is within your control and let go of the rest.  

Monitor your thoughts and feelings while planning your wedding  

Our brain generates thousands of thoughts every day; while many of our thoughts come and go, some of our thoughts can be unhelpful and have a negative impact on how we feel. Unhelpful thoughts can assume the worst, ignore the positives or call us names. Unhelpful thoughts are rarely based in fact and generally make us feel bad about ourselves or our situation. When engaging in stressful activities such as wedding planning, holding onto our unhelpful thoughts can result in increased feelings of anxiety, low mood or resentment towards the big day. If you notice that you are feeling this way while planning your wedding, acknowledge your thoughts without judgement, remind yourself that your thoughts hold no power over you and try to let them go. You can also try talking to your partner, a friend, or trusted family members about how you are feeling as they may help you to reframe or challenge the thoughts that aren’t serving you positively.  

Take time to prioritise yourself  

Planning your wedding will most likely be an additional task on top of an already busy life. When we add more to our full plate, we tend to put our own needs to the bottom of our list of priorities. According to a recent survey, 86% of couples surveyed about wedding stress reported physical side effects such as increased skin breakouts, reduced sex drive and poor sleep while planning their wedding. Ensuring that we prioritise self-care means we will be more likely to manage the stress when is does eventually arise. Practicing self-care means making time for restful sleep, being active every day, staying well-fed and hydrated and practicing some form of mindfulness or relaxation each day. If you are finding it difficult to find the time to care for yourself, set aside 10 minutes a week to review your schedule and book in time for self-care to ensure it happens.  

Focus on the present moment 

When spending extended periods of time planning a wedding, it can be easy to become fixated on the future and forget to live in the moment. Without an anchor in the present moment, our mind can easily become stressed and overwhelmed. Mindfulness can work as our anchor and can work as antidote against stress. When stressed, our heart rate and blood pressure increases and our body releases stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol into our bloodstream. Long term impacts of stress have been found to have detrimental impacts on our overall physical and mental health. Practicing mindfulness has been scientifically proven to help to combat stress by releasing the happy hormones oxytocin and serotonin, slow down rate of breathing and balance your mood. Aps like Headspace, Calm and Smiling Mind can help you to practice guided mindfulness meditation for anywhere between 30 seconds to 45 minutes.  Practicing daily mindfulness will help you to manage not only your stress around your wedding but all stresses in life moving forward.

  

Ask for support   

Signs that you may be struggling to manage stress associated with planning your wedding could be chronic exhaustion, changes in sleep/ appetite, feeling anxious when you think about your wedding, procrastinating on wedding tasks, increased conflict in your relationship and feelings of dread about your wedding day. If you notice any of these signs, it may be time to ask for help. Friends and family may not know how much pressure you are under and may be able to lend a hand; don’t hesitate to reach out and let them know that you may need some extra support. If you feel your mental health is significantly impacted or you would like to speak to a professional, you GP will be able to provide individualised advice and refer you to professional supports available in your area. A therapist can offer professional guidance by helping you identify your thoughts, explore possible coping methods, and navigate how you are feeling. 

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