Wedding stress - a bad thing, right? Nope wrong, or at least not necessarily. Stress can be a key motivator and when used in the right way can help us move mountains!
According to Kelly McGonigal, a leading health psychologist, it is, in fact, our view of our stress that is the most damaging. A recent study revealed some quite shocking statistics. It's our belief around stress that dictates the outcome of it's physical, mental and emotional effect on us. Whether it's our perception or reality that is correct we can certainly not ignore the enormous impact stress has - not just for ourselves but the people around us.
Society's norms have always dictated the man's role as the fixer, organiser, the strong one! Like there's an unwritten rule book of life, that we all must conform to.
However, psycotherapist Jane Barnfield Jukes says differently. “It's often expected that your bride will be stressed and nervous leading up to the big day but less so for the groom. This can sometimes lead to the added pressure of managing your feelings alone, on top of being supportive to your bride-to-be.
"When we don't acknowledge, dismiss or bury our feelings, that's when they can swamp us or seep out in unexpected places. This can build and build. Keeping a lid on things can seem like the right thing to do but often has a pressure cooker effect. You may start to express your feelings in a more aggressive way and use outbursts as a release without even realising. A certain amount of stress is a normal part of life. How we respond to it is key.
"One of the most important things is to take control of what you can change and try to accept the things you can't. We often wrongly assign our feelings. Our conscious self allocates responsibility for stress in an area of our lives but like anxiety, it's not always easy to ascertain the cause e.g. our partners. We can often blame our partners for our stresses or vice versa. Whatever the reason stress and anxiety is our bodies way of letting us know that something is not right.
"When we are struggling with high stress levels, planning a wedding and trying to manage a good work/life balance, it may be because one is seeping into the other. You may start to feel overwhelmed. Although easier said than done try to set boundaries, creating a clear distinction between personal time and work time, or time with your loved one and wedding planning. These boundaries are more difficult to impose with technological advances we feel we have little control over. We are always expected to be available to respond. Our devices can also fulfil our deepest desire for personal interactions, feelings of self-worth or, simply, feed our feeling of relevance. (I'm in demand, therefore I am loved and necessary.) This, in turn, feeds our egos and temporarily making us feel more secure. In fact, some suggest the devices themselves have become attachment figures or security blankets fulfilling our unconscious needs.
"Problems arise with this constant access and when the balance between our work, personal and wedding planning becomes skewed, it can feel that the wedding is taking over. It may sound simple but the most important thing to remember when this happens is to take control. Create proper boundaries between your work and your home, including your phone. If necessary, book time off from your phone and all other electronic devices. Quite literally schedule time in your diary to swithc off. Let your loved ones know so they don't become anxious.
"Communication with your wife to be is key, so start getting in to good habits now.
"If everything is getting on top of you speak to somebody. Do not suffer in silence. Be active. Take time to connect with people you care about, including yourself. Sometimes it's not that we are doing too much but doing too much of the wrong things, for us.
"Consider watching the “How to make stress your friend” TED talk. Mindfulness meditations in the morning and evening can have a remarkably positive psychological impact. Consider finding a mindfulness course in your area. These suggestions may sound simple however when we are stressed and overwhelmed sometimes it the simplest things we forget. Don't wait until you are in trouble to put these suggestions into action. Prevention is better than cure.
"Above all be kind to yourself, you can't look after others if you are not looking after yourself. Embark on a regime of self-care. Make sure the voice inside your head is on your side and has your back. Try to be self-aware of your own coping mechanisms. Do you withdraw into yourself when under pressure or do you use your drive to succeed as a way to bulldoze through life and the current situation? Often these ways of being can overshadow the simple fact that you and your future partner are the priority. The combination of extreme workloads, weight of work load responsibility, let alone deadlines can be extremely anxiety provoking. Throw in the mammoth organisational operation needed to plan a wedding and it's not hard to see how overload occurs. Some of us thrive on it, others less so. The society norm is to applaud this and indeed it's rarely on the extra mile so we know that both personally and professionally this can work until it doesn't.
"Remember, try to be aware of your stress levels and how to manage them not just for the big day but everyday!"
Psycotherapist Jane Barnfield Jukes is Founder of Online Therapy Service The Practice (www.thepractice.co.uk)and all natural supplement range, Eudeamon (www.eudeamon.com). To book a free telephone consultation for online therapy please call 0333 0096 321.