This guest blog is written by Kathryn Blake, a qualified Naturopath, who specialises in sleep and fatigue management.
So you’re engaged! All the congratulations flood in from friends and family, you’re bursting at the seams with excitement!
And now the planning begins – date, location, how many bridesmaids, the Dress, guests….
Your mother in law tells you that you must invite your fiance’s cousin Lewis because “he’s family”. But the most you have said to him is “Hi Lewis” at family functions because he never makes the effort to talk to you, he’s always living in his phone. Your own mother tells you to invite her brother, your Uncle Jack. But Uncle Jack is a horrendous drunk and always criticises every single thing you do.
How many guests…50, 80, 100? Now all your thoughts turn to $$. How much do you have to save? Can you even afford the big wedding that you’ve always dreamed of? Now it’s getting overwhelming and you sit on the couch with your notepad and pen in hand and start to stare at your fiancé with that look on your face that tells him not to ask you what’s wrong.
Shit… “I need to lose weight”
Suddenly the rush of excitement turns into stress and leaves you anxious. How did this magical day turn into your biggest nightmare?
How your body deals with stress (hint: it ain’t pretty)
Welcome to fight or flight. A survival mechanism where your brain tells your adrenal glands to pump your body full of adrenaline and Cortisol. Your heart rate increases, your blood is directed to your arms and your legs, you start breathing quicker and you are alert. You are ready to fight to survive or “flight” to remove yourself from danger. Short term this response is fantastic for survival, however if this is what you’re experiencing constantly leading up to your big day – well I will tell you right now, you’ll burn out quicker than a candle without oxygen.
Two things happen in this fight or flight mode. Your digestive system and immune system shut down. Why? Because those two systems aren’t really needed when running away from your burning house or fighting the robber who has just broke into your home. So how can we stop this stress of your wedding take over your health?
Here are my four top tips.
Eat Well and Often.
Due to our immune system and digestive system functioning being surpressed by stress, the demand on our bodies nutrients increases. Protein and Good Fats are going to be your friend leading up to your big day. The best way to ensure your eating stays on track is to be prepared. When cooking dinner, cook extra and when serving up, pop some into a couple of Tupperware containers for tomorrow’s lunch. Pack healthy snacks because you are going to want to be eating every 2-3 hours. Eating regularly is going to reduce the need for your body to want to secrete excess adrenaline and Cortisol. By regularly consuming the right nutrients your adrenals will stay happy little glands.
Omega 3 deficiency is increasing in our society because we simply do not eat enough good fat in our food. Make sure you are eating oily fish 2 to 3 times per week, snacking on raw/unroasted/unsalted nuts like walnuts, seeds like linseeds, avocado, and drizzle olive oil on just about anything. When you can’t get any of these, opt for a good quality fish oil supplement (veg and vegan gals opt for flaxseed oil). Not only will your brain start working better but your skin will improve, and it will improve your metabolism too!
How will you ever have the time to exercise with all these appointments to find the dress, meet with the bridesmaids, check out venues….? Here comes that “be prepared” phrase again. Pack a bag with workout gear, deodorant, and face wash and leave it in your car or at work. You are going to be extremely busy so if you’re going to fit in a workout at least 3 times a week you need to be able to go to the gym last minute. Go on more walks, invest in a personal trainer, and find a work out buddy (perhaps the bridesmaids will join you?). Exercise is one of the most effective ways to reduce stress and reduce the negative effects stress has on our body.
Remember that hormone Cortisol I was talking about before? Well it likes to hold onto fat tissue and deposit in areas that we don’t want. In times of stress it is much more difficult to shed excess fat so exercising is a win-win when it comes to both burning fat and reducting stress. It also makes you feel 100 times better post workout. You’ll have a clearer head, be able to focus and concentrate much easier, and be able to get those plans organised without procrastinating.
Delegate a 2.I.C (second in command)
If you are a bit of a control freak, this will be the hardest task to do. But you need to allow yourself to have help, as much as possible. Your bridesmaids are there to help you have the most memorable day possible. Give them tasks, ask them for advice, and let them support you. A 2IC is going to be the person you trust that is not in the bridal party. It is someone to contact urgently if heaven-forbid anything is to go wrong last minute. What if something goes wrong with your wedding cake on the day and someone needs to meet the delivery at the venue, or the florist has issues with the flowers you ordered.
Choose a person you trust, who is excellent at organising, and works well under pressure as your emergency 2IC. This person will be able to answer any last minute calls to put out fires, so you don’t need to sweet the little details on your big day. A great alternative if you can’t find a friend to fill this position is a wedding planner who specialises in on-the-day coordination.
Get your beauty sleep!
It’s called beauty sleep for a reason! Who wants to be told “Congratulations, you look exhausted!” on your wedding day? Not even the best wedding makeup artist in the world can stop you looking tired. We need at least 7 to 8 hours of solid sleep a night, yes that means falling asleep and not waking up in the night 3 or 4 times to go to the toilet or get a drink of water.
But I struggle to switch off before bed, you say! Well guess what? The stress and adrenaline I have been talking about causes a viscous cycle and in most cases causes sleep deprivation. Don’t go on Instagram and search wedding centrepieces when you are laying in bed! Looking at a screen immediately before bed will stimulate the stress response, switching on those adrenal glands just before you are due to sleep. Your adrenal glands only need 2-3 hours rest to survive so that’s why you will be waking up every few hours through the night. Have your last coffee before 2pm and get to bed before 10pm. If you exercise at night and feel extremely energetic after your workout, I would suggest working out before work. You’ll feel tired in the evening and allow your body to get the well deserved rest it needs.
Kathryn specialises in sleep issues and fatigue management. If you would like more advice on how to reduce your stress, improve your sleep or just get some energy back, call Kathryn for a comprehensive consultation.
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