How to deal with pre-wedding anxiety
Wedding anxiety setting in? Wed samples a series of therapies designed to combat those nerves and allow you to revel in your big moment...
Talk to any budding bride or groom and one word usually resounds: nerves. Ask them how they're feeling and I'll guarantee, 'stressed', 'excited' and 'nervous' will pour as much from their verbal response as it will off their entire aura. Each will have their individual anxieties, but research reveals that brides appear to be taking the brunt, reporting an upsurge in panic attacks and breakdowns before - and most worryingly - on the day itself.
According to a survey by fearcourse.com, 71% of brides-to-be suffered from some type of nerves during the build-up to their wedding. Unsurprisingly, 92% of brides experienced nerves on the day of the wedding or the evening before, while 66% reported that it affected their daily lives prior to it, or hampered their performance and enjoyment during the day itself.
With many brides obsessing about the details, any negative feelings that spring up are cast aside in favour of ensuring everything else runs smoothly. Then, when the day comes, they are completely mentally unprepared for it, being flooded with unexpected emotion without any means to successfully tackle it. Hence, the spectacle of tearful tantrums, bridal breakdowns and familial flare-ups that many a congregation has born witness to.
So where are these worries coming from? Depending on the person, any number of issues can become manifest at this most trialsome of times. Past grievances can stir up present psyches as much as the bridal burden itself; but nerves of this type are most often associated with performance anxiety, self-esteem, relationship issues and fear.
While these may not be startling statistics, they are nonetheless cause for concern and entirely avoidable. With practically a fifth of those studied suffering one or more panic attacks during the pre-wedding or wedding period, brides should learn to harness their behaviour, be aware of the potential pitfalls, and put in place strategies to mitigate them for stress-free solutions.
The ethos of the modern matrimonial is to design and enjoy your day in individual style. So with that in mind, we've taken a look at a range of methods and therapies to ensure you're emotionally fit to avoid the disasters and embrace the dreams of your day.
On average, we take over 900 an hour without thinking - but the simple key to relaxation is breathing properly. Instantly beneficial to the mind and body, a few slow, deep breaths will calm nerves and allow greater control over the situation, however stressful it may be.
There are a number of disciplines in which breathing is a core practice. Yoga and tai chi are both renowned for employing the breath within their techniques and are an excellent way to gain some peace and perspective away from wedding woes.
Meditation is another celebrated mechanism for relaxation. An ancient tradition that focuses on inner peace and clarity of thought through meditative practices and being, I visited a class with Colette Hartgill of The Light Works to experience it for myself.
In short, the basic idea is to transcend the reflexive, thinking mind in order to achieve a more blissful state and to learn how to independently induce this clearer consciousness. Whether it's by concentrative or mindfulness meditation or as a religious or spiritual act - the primary aim is often the same, whatever the individual's belief and lifestyle.
Colette employs a combination of mindfulness, relaxation and self-enquiry to facilitate feelings of peace, self-realisation and self-awareness. Sitting comfortably in a circle as incense gently wafted around us, we began by briefly sharing our thoughts and feelings in group therapy style, which was reassuringly easy. Next, we concentrated on our breathing - and that alone - for three minutes of mind purging before embarking on a more protracted bout of meditation.
Using a word that we had 'blindly' chosen from a selection in front of us as a basis for our minds' focus, we imagined it alongside any feelings and symbols it ushered as we drifted deeper into the centre of our spiritual selves.
Though it may all sound slightly strange, it felt so tranquil that by the time we had emerged from our longest meditative spell, I'd transformed. To others, my findings may have sounded as from someone either possessed or under the influence - but I left lucid, calm and undeniably 'higher' than I had originally entered.
Colette holds meditation classes in Penryn every Monday at 6-7.30pm or 7.45-9.15pm. She is also a Reiki practitioner, offering treatments by appointment.
07886 988479 www.thelightworkscornwall.co.uk
Confidence is another attribute that is core to experiencing not only a successful and happy day - but also marriage. By fostering self-esteem and understanding how and why you may lack it, the risk of emotional explosions or meltdowns can be severely reduced.
Personal development trainer, Angela Coote, is qualified and experienced in a range of disciplines to help people achieve their potential. I visited her to discuss nervous dispositions and anxieties amongst brides and to see, first-hand, how she may be able to combat these common fears and afflictions.
"I can teach relaxation methods that will help deal with any stressful situation," she says. "These simple techniques are very effective and perfect for seeing you through your big day feeling calm and relaxed and fully able to enjoy yourself."
I opted to sample some NLP - or Neuro-Linguistic Programming - which is an approach in psychotherapy based on thought, feeling, language and behavioural patterns that can be altered to elicit specific results such as weight loss, sports performance and personal development.
Firstly, Angela guided me through some basic breathing techniques before creating a circle of power by using spatial anchors. This involved immersing myself in a feeling of total confidence by recalling a specific time I felt that way, and then stepping into an imaginary circle, taking that sensation with me. With repeat, guided practice of this technique, participants are able to re-evoke that feeling whenever required, thus creating their desired state of being at will.
Already calm and relaxed, I then received a session of Reiki. This practice channels healing energy through the hands to release blocked energy, removing toxins from the body and promoting balance.
Again, concentrating on breathing in order to initiate relaxation, Angela unobtrusively used touch very lightly while I continued to drift into varying states of calm, experiencing odd - but pleasant - tingling sensations throughout the course of the treatment.
Used for an array of emotional and physical problems, or simply for relaxation, Angela reminded me that Reiki affects everyone in a different way as I awoke from my trance with all stress banished and ready to continue with my day.
Angela is a fully registered clinical hypnotherapist, NLP Practitioner, Reiki practitioner and personal development trainer. She offers individual and family sessions and is based in Penryn and at The Mitchell Hill Clinic in Truro, where she is also introducing special fertility treatments.
01326 373057 www.angelacoote.co.uk
If you cannot envision a happy day, then how can you expect to experience it? We all know that by being relaxed and confident, we can avoid and manage stressful situations with greater ease; but you need to truly imagine yourself doing it for real enlightenment and success.
Experienced hypnotherapist Vanessa Tucker extols the virtues of hypnosis for a variety of complaints, deeming it of particular value for anxious brides-to-be: "The benefits of hypnosis can be used to overcome all aspects of the wedding day stresses, from the planning stages to the honeymoon. These may include fear of public speaking, social phobias (being the centre of attention), fear of flying, weight loss and commitment issues to name but a few. This type of hypnotherapy has assisted numerous couples in pulling off great events and enjoying them fully."
Vanessa has a developed understanding of the pressures at the root of these nerves. "Many brides go through similar emotions of anxiety, confusion and even depression. The amount of pressure to be perfect is immense, especially when they are told this must be the happiest day of their life. In reality, we all know that weddings bring with them a time of stress."
Her approach centres on refocusing the way couples approach their wedding planning. "Couples have often expressed regret that they have focused so much time, energy and stress on the planning and arrangements that the actual wedding day itself has been a 'bit of a blur'. It is easy to see why couples have been adding a new component to their wedding planning: a hypnotherapist."
The word hypnosis stems from the Greek word hypnos, meaning sleep, which aptly portrays the suspended state it induces. A heightened state of awareness is achieved through a range of specific methods, making your mind more receptive to suggestions for self-improvement, positive change and to target particular concerns and problems. Some practitioners teach self-hypnosis so that the state can be recreated during times of need or at especially stressful events.
Vanessa recommends couples use a variety of techniques together in the run-up to the wedding in order to reduce anxiety. These include "seeing each other as a new person every day. This objective viewpoint creates a space for both of you to keep growing as people, which can sometimes feel threatening."
She also reaffirms the art and power of communication. "Talk to each other. Active listening helps us to understand our partner and demonstrate respect. Also, use affirmations. Mantras or affirmations are a way to use positive thinking to cause change in your life, such as 'I will have a joyful wedding.' Do this everyday and you will become the change you wish to see."
Vanessa has developed Ki Healing Arts - an intuitive system that combines a unique healing palette of therapies, courses and advice, tailor-made for your individual needs. Vanessa uses Reiki, hypnosis, NLP and coaching, crystal healing and dramatherapy in her private practice and creates individual powerful breakthrough programmes for each client.
07887 510067 www.kihealingarts.co.uk
Treat yourself to a calming massage or facial during the countdown to the big day.
Take some gentle exercise or go for a brisk walk either the night before or morning of the wedding.
Get a good night's sleep the night before. If you're worried about getting to sleep, try a few tricks that usually help you unwind, whether it's a cup of chamomile tea, a relaxing bath or burning some aromatherapy oils.
Ensure any last minute details are either sorted out the day before the wedding or have been delegated to someone responsible.
Eat a substantial breakfast. Opt for slow-release, sustained energy that will stabilise your blood sugar and help to abate nerves.
Tempting as it might be, avoid drinking too much alcohol during the preparations. A glass of champagne while you have your hair and make-up done will suffice.
Surround yourself with calming and reassuring people.
Don't sweat the small stuff. Keeping a sense of perspective will help you relax and enjoy the process.
Focus on your beloved as you walk down the aisle and throughout the ceremony - you'll be amazed at how quickly you'll forget about everyone else present.
Click here for more help with wedding nerves
Click here for help with pre-wedding mindfulness
words Hannah May
Copyright WED Magazine 2012
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