Don’t Say Yes to the Stress – Richmond magazine

Planning a wedding can be stressful enough as is, but planning your big day during a global pandemic can take it to another level. Whether you’re postponing your wedding or having an impromptu ceremony to avoid waiting until later in the year, there are ways to make sure you’re caring for your physical and mental health in the process. 

The founder of Life Cycles Counseling, Adina Silvestri, Ed.D., LPC, explains why the wedding planning process may be especially difficult for couples right now. 

“There are a lot of intense emotions,” she says. “If they’re already stressed about life, that’s just one more added thing.”

She explains that stress is our response to changes in our environment that we deem to be threatening. Stress can be positive by motivating and directing our behavior, but it can also be negative when our mental health begins to affect our physical health. 

Ashley Mannell, RD, NP, IFMCP, the owner of Nourish Health & Wellness Psychiatry, agrees. 

“When there’s too much good stress, it can also impact the body,” she says. “In women especially, it affects your gut health. We maybe self-medicate with caffeine or alcohol that causes our gut to be even more affected.” 

In addition to the physical toll wedding- planning stress can have on your body, it can also bring up difficult emotions. 

“[Wedding planning] brings out the worst, and complicated stuff comes up,” Mannell says. “It’s usually a good time to get into therapy. It helps you identify ‘What are the issues here?’ ”

Rachel Douglas, MSW, and Susan Wilkes, Ph.D., from The Innerwork Center want couples to know that stress is a natural part of life.

“It’s a really normal, human reaction to feel anxious or sad in the face of uncertainties,” they write in an email. “Stress is part of life. We can’t avoid all stress, but we can definitely strengthen our ability to respond to it effectively.” 

Facilities like The Innerwork Center, practices like Silvestri’s and Mannell’s, and many other resources offer great options for people to work on their mental health. Whether it’s individual sessions, group therapy or programs like those offered at The Innerwork Center, wellness experts agree it’s important to pay attention to your emotions and how they’re possibly affecting your body. 

Putting your mental and physical health first will ensure you show up as your best self on your wedding day. 

Tips to Help Reduce Stress

Move your body: Exercising or taking a walk can help release endorphins and clear your mind. It also helps prevent stress from building up in the body and manifesting in physical aches and pains.

Practice the RAIN method by Tara Brach: Recognize the emotion. Allow it to be. Investigate how it makes you feel. Nurture yourself. 

Meditate: Taking time to be quiet, breathing deeply and focusing on your breath rather than your thoughts can help you calm down and keep things in perspective. 

Avoid caffeine and sugar: An unhealthy diet, especially sugary foods, can cause your blood sugar to spike, then crash. Fueling your body with nourishing foods can improve your mood. 

Practice gratitude: Even when things feel difficult, it’s helpful to remind yourself how much there is to be grateful for. Practicing gratitude and focusing on being thankful can be a mood booster.