My heart goes out to you if you’re one of the thousands of brides who have had to cancel one of the most important days of your life – your wedding day. Dealing with Covid 19 and it’s aftermath is hard for everyone but when lockdown means axing plans for your dream wedding day, it can be truly heart-breaking.
Every bride-to-be knows that planning a wedding is a demanding exercise. Wedding stress is real. You’re negotiating tight budgets, managing expectations of family members, dealing with unpredictable emotional outbursts – yours and theirs – in an endless stream of detailed decision making, shared with the person you want beside you through thick and thin, whether they truly love the invitation font or not.
So, after all of that effort, postponing the celebration or scaling it down to a shadow of its former glory can have a dramatic impact upon your physical and mental health.
Think of Stress like a Bridge
The Stress Management Society offers this helpful metaphor. If we keep piling more and more onto the bridge it will eventually begin to buckle and groan. That bridge is, of course, our physical and mental health. When the bridge starts to creak, we really only have two options. Either we take some of the stuff off the bridge and lighten the load or we strengthen the girders, so we are better able to cope.
Lighten the Load – Grant Yourself Emotional Permission
Several brides spoke to me recently about feeling overwhelmed, lost for words, bewildered and one bride described feeling ‘broken.’ But the most common emotion expressed was guilt: many felt guilty about their own pain at seeing wedding plans crushed, when others were going through far worse. They struggled to appreciate the good in their lives and felt unable to stop focusing on what they had lost. One bride was stranded in the Caribbean, having had her wedding cancelled five days before it was due to happen. Initially, the couple were unable to find food or even a place to stay yet felt they couldn’t speak up because they might seem ungrateful.
Just because other people are experiencing difficulties, it doesn’t make yours less valid. There is no competition for sadness. When others are dying it is normal to feel “lucky to be alive” but even that doesn’t change how you’re feeling, especially if you’ve been dreaming of a magical wedding since the age of five.
Sadness for some was less about the day itself and more about major life plans now going on hold. One couple had plans to give up work and spend 12 months travelling before settling down and for another it was sadness that the biological clock was still ticking and yet now their carefully laid plans for starting a family would have to wait.
Accepting these emotions rather than trying to squeeze them back down will actually help you to move on. Pushing feelings out of the way can lead to increased stress, anxiety and potentially depression, so remember you are entitled to your feelings. You have gone through a great deal and recognising that and appreciating it is the first step to moving on. So, lighten the load by letting go of the guilt.
Lighten the Load – Focus on What You Can Control
We all have an inner voice that chatters away to us – mine never shuts up! Right now, some brides are hearing ‘this is horrendous’ ‘I don’t know where to start,’ or ‘it’s so unfair.’ It’s helpful to talk back to your inner voice and let it know you’re okay. ‘Well, this isn’t what we wanted, but it’s given us more time to plan.’ ‘Now we can re-consider those final table settings we were stressing about and have an even more perfect day!’
Sadly, you have no control over the virus, the rules nor the fact that things could still change for the worse; but you do have control over your mind and body – and that’s a great start. You can’t control what happens to you, but you can control how you choose to respond to it.
One of the things to re-imagine is the day itself. I’ve heard some delightful stories of how people have celebrated. One couple invited neighbours, had a street party and everyone dressed up. Another planned a home spa day, with photo-shoot and precious time together. Another cooked their dream meal. Each of them made their day a wonderful celebration. Equally, if you no longer feel it is your special day that’s okay to. The key is recognising and acting upon what you can control and doing that will also lighten the load.
Strengthen the Girders – Love Your Body
The term ‘Covesity’ has sprung up and I think even those of us who weren’t getting married have eaten more and hit the wine! But are you tempted to eat rubbish because your dress fitting has been put on hold, then resort to a crash-diet nearer the time? Think again. Eating a healthy diet now will make you feel more energised and more in control.
Start by making sure you’re getting enough water. Eat a varied diet of whole foods that don’t come in a box! Avoid processed foods. Enjoy lots of fruit and veg. Eat when you’re hungry and not when you’re not. Avoid low fat foods because they are packed with sugar and chemicals. Cut back on the grains, potato and sugar as these are often inflammatory and reducing them will make a real difference. You’ll have bags more energy; you’ll boost your gut bacteria and that will have an impact on your mental health as most of your Serotonin the ‘happiness hormone’ is made in the gut. Eating a healthy diet will help you look and feel fabulous.
Another revelation from my conversations with brides was that those who had kept up a regular exercise routine were feeling the benefit of a lighter mood. Building an exercise habit can really help you. Pick something you enjoy, share it with a friend if you can, or involve an accountability buddy. If you want your habit to stick, attach it to something you already do. Brushing teeth is a great example. One bride told me she did yoga every morning straight after her teeth. That way she always remembered, and it easily became a habit. Another tactic for building a successful habit is to give yourself a visual cue. Simply leaving your running kit out the night before bed can be just the trigger you need. Regular exercise can significantly impact your mood even if it’s just a walk: so, try and fit in 20 minutes every day.
Strengthen the Girders – Love Your Mind
One of the easiest, most effective exercises for the mind is practising gratitude. When you are in a state of gratitude, you cannot be in a state of lack at the same time – and right there is the peace of mind we are seeking.
There are lots of ways to practice gratitude and you need to find one that works for you. Some people like to walk in nature and take time to notice what’s around them: the sound of the birds, the sun on your back and maybe just the smiles on the faces of the children playing. Others prefer to wake in the morning and immediately think of three things that they are thankful for. These don’t have to be big or special; the key is to connect deeply with the feeling of whatever you are thankful for. Finding and expressing gratitude is not a logical act, it is an emotional one. Some people like to write in a journal and create a treasured record to look back and remind yourself of the many blessings in your life. On a day when you’re not feeling so great, taking out your journal and reminding yourself of everything you appreciate can often be enough to lift your mood.
Gratitude is deceptively simple as a practise but don’t underestimate its power. This simple act has been shown to help increase our energy, improve our sleep, reduce anxiety and depression and, best of all, it’s easy and free! So why not give it a go?
It’s these habits and routines, the things you do over and over again, that add up to become big things. It’s not the things you do when you feel good that make the difference, it’s the things you do even on your worst days when you don’t feel like it. Master a few habits and no matter what life hands you, you will be able to get through.
I’d love to help you more. Feel free to message me for a no obligation chat.