Calling all brides…
Or actually, calling one bride! This one goes out to my soon-to-be sister-in-law. She asked me for some advice on how to better relax during the next few weeks leading up to her and my brother’s wedding. That’s right, mamas, big bro is getting hitched! Only a couple of months to go until the big day so the pressure is really on.
In order to help her stay unflustered, I have compiled this list with ten easy, practical and natural stress busting tips. And while I specifically wrote them with the happy couple in mind, I figured these can be applied to any stage of life and any big “project” you’ve got going on. Whether you are a blushing bride, a new mom, a veteran mom or a single gal, there are always situations that add physical, mental or emotional strain to our already busy day-to-day routines. In those times, we need to make sure we take extra good care of ourselves so we don’t crash and burn. I, of course, had to learn this the hard way so please do not repeat my mistake.
1. Zzzzzz. I never fully understood the importance of sleep until I had kids and sleep became pretty much non-existent for a few years. Sleep is so vital for our health and well-being but so hard to come by when we have a million things to do. Try to go to bed at a reasonable hour (better yet, around the same time every night) and get about 7-9 hours of shut-eye. When your body and mind get adequate rest, you’ll feel rejuvenated and energized to tackle whatever gets thrown your way so much better. Sleep is known to aide in the body’s immunity, brain function and weight control. Not to mention what a good night’s sleep can do for your skin and those dark circles under your eyes! Beauty sleep, duh…go to bed!
2. Drink up! Every system in your body depends on water. According to the Mayo Clinic, it flushes toxins out of vital organs, carries nutrients to our cells, and provides a moist environment for your body’s mucous membranes. And don’t forget what plenty of H2O does for your complexion – it plumps up the skin which helps to minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Lack of water can lead to dehydration, a condition that occurs when you don’t have enough water in your body to carry out normal functions. Even mild dehydration can drain your energy and make you tired. Drinking more water was one of my new year’s resolutions for 2015 (I know, aiming pretty high…#not) but I forget to do it all the time. Just last Saturday, I was running around with my daughter all day without barely drinking any fluids at all. By the time I came home I was extraordinarily tired, dizzy and nauseous. Worst of all, I could still feel the effects of being dehydrated the next day as I was weak and jittery. Not good! How much water you should drink depends on the individual and many internal and external factors. However, most health care professionals suggest eight 8-ounce glasses or about 2 liters a day.
3. Drop the chips and cookies. Does this sound familiar? You are running on empty until you are completely famished and then you grab the first edible (and convenient) thing you can find. I have a friend who says she literally used to live on handfuls of Goldfish throughout the day for weeks at a time. In addition to GMO’s, artificial sweeteners, flavors, additives and/or dyes, processed foods often contain boatloads of sugar and not a lot of nutrients (hence, empty calories). Sugar is known to be an enemy of your waistline and your complexion. It suppresses your immune system and makes you more prone to illness. Plus, all those sweets you crave and consume in a state of stress make your blood sugar first spike then quickly crash, leaving you even more tired and more sluggish than you were before. I am trying to become better at this myself but make sure you don’t just eat healthful meals but wholesome snacks in between meals as well. Stock up on whole foods like fresh fruit, veggies and nuts, and get on the green smoothie bandwagon already!
4. Lay off the booze. While indulging in a glass of wine at the end of the day can be a calming ritual, overindulging while you want to be performing at your very best is hardly a good idea. When you drink too much alcohol (again, empty calories!) your body will be left dehydrated with a stressed out liver and lackluster skin. Plus, being truly productive with a major hangover is next to impossible.
5. Calm your mind. The mind can be our biggest saboteur. Mine never seems to shut up, rattling off to-do lists at all hours of the day. Practicing yoga three or four times a week has truly become my saving grace. Somewhere between focusing on the breath, focusing on the asana and not focusing on anything at all has helped me solve many a problem on my little old mat. If you are not a member of the yoga tribe, maybe give meditation a whirl. I have yet to get into it myself but I hear it’s easier than you think if you start slow with only a few minutes a day. If you think that’s a waste of time, find what works for you: Say your prayers at night, dabble in some aromatherapy, do a gratitude exercise before you get up in the morning, write down your thoughts and organize your ideas in a journal to make them seem less chaotic, or practice mindful breathing. Once you’ve figured out what it is you need, stick to your program as much as you can. No more excuses! No time? Make time.
6. Move yo’ body. Regularly breaking a sweat is so beneficial. It helps control your weight, lowers your risk for certain diseases (such as depression, heart disease, and diabetes), strengthens your body, boosts your energy, improves your mood and your sleep. The list goes on and on. So, what are you waiting for? Go for a run, take a swim, hit the gym, or finally make it to that dance class you’ve been meaning to try.
7. Hug a tree. No, not literally. But do get up and out and connect with nature: Take a walk around the neighborhood, stroll through the park or go for a hike. I find that spending time outside and really paying attention to my surroundings helps with seeing the bigger picture. A wedding is one incredible day and there is a lot of pressure to make it the best, most perfect and most memorable day ever but don’t forget what the occasion really is about. It’s about you and your fiancé and starting your life together. Pause for a moment and take it all in. This time will have passed before you know it!
8. Pamper thyself. Schedule a little timeout for some well deserved TLC! Set up a massage, plan a spa day, get a mani/pedi or enjoy a DIY at-home pampering session. It needn’t cost a fortune and a little sometimes goes a long way. It’s relaxing not just for the body but for the soul as well. You’ll be looking and feeling great in no time. Stress, schmess!
9. Delegate, delegate, delegate. Remember all those people who have offered to help you? If you are overwhelmed I highly suggest you take those people up on their offer. I fully admit that delegating can be hard especially if you – like me – are very particular about how you want things to be done. However, when planning a wedding, there is always a lot of busy work involved (such as putting invitations in envelopes or picking up pre-ordered favors/flowers/whatever) that can easily be handled by a trusted friend or family member. Also, don’t be afraid to be proactive and ask for help. People may have not offered simply because you seem like you’ve got it all covered. Little do they know you can barely hold it together. Trust me, I’m an expert in this department.
10. Have fun! It is so easy to get caught up in being busy. Make it a priority to just check out for a while to read a book, meet a friend for coffee, or go on a date with your partner. Do something you really enjoy! When you allow yourself to take a break every once in a while for no other purpose than to have a good time, you will be able to come back to your planning extravaganza with renewed focus and enthusiasm.
**Photo Credit: © Anna Bashmakova | Dreamstime.com**
What are your favorite healthy ways to unwind and recharge?