There you are in your last 3 months before the big day, making final preparations and checking off everything on your 'to do' list. Everything is going quite smoothly and you are really looking forward to finally waking up on your wedding day and reaping the rewards of your months and months of  hard work and planning.

Then the florist calls and leaves a garbled message on your phone (because you still have to work for a living) to let you know that your centrepiece arrangements will not be able to be made as planned because the vases that they were waiting on from the U.S. are stuck in customs and the only alternative they can do in time will cost you an extra $100.

Each. 

And one of your bridesmaids calls to excitedly/nervously inform you that she is 3 months pregnant and she didn't want to make you panic, but she will now need her dress (that you've have already purchased online) to be made about 2 sizes bigger to accommodate her growing bump. 

Your fiancé just tried to pick up his suit but there has been a mix up and they don't have it ready yet.

But you've kept calm, you've been understanding and it's just life, right? No big deal.

But then your Mum calls to let you know that your favourite Uncle will not be coming anymore because of the stupid fight he had with your brother last week and also to let you know that their new best friend and her husband (who she only met at dance class last month) needs to be added to the guest list.

And you lose it.

Because it's not just one thing; it seems like EVERYTHING is going wrong.

Bridechilla Club - wedding stress

But see this cute cat here innocently (and quite effortlessly, I might add..) stretching through tree pose, dolphin, boat pose and the like?

Apart from putting my flexibility to shame, this guy has another incredible and maybe not immediately obvious power. The pics of this little critter are potential stress busters, check-in markers and mindfulness triggers.

Unbridely's contributing psychologist, Steph McBeath, calls him Yoga Cat, but I call him genius.

Yoga Cat can help you focus on what's going on in your body and your mind at any given moment, which can assist you to narrow down on  what's really important (bombshell: you and your health and THEN your fiancé and your wedding) and prevent the sometimes sneaky, explosive types of stress that is often associated with wedding planning. 

Steph explains: "The Yoga Cat thing is basically a method to check in on yourself, especially when you're stressing. It is a 'how am i traveling?' check."

I believe the secret is in how dopey and wide-eyed Yoga Cat is drawn and the fact that most cats (in my limited experience) don't regularly practice yoga. So when you see one of these stickers, it makes you smile, disarms you and stops your brain in it's tracks.

Steph goes on "I advise people to pop a small, subtle sticker in a few places around the house, like the microwave, phone charger, bathroom mirror, etc.  Somewhere that you will only see it a couple of times a day. When you see the sticker, do either a quick 'body scan' or 3 or so deep, regulated breaths. We then 'catch' any free-flowing, stressy feelings that aren't necessarily in themselves a big deal, but can add up and that's often when we 'snap' about something small."

It's just taking the lid off a simmering pot, if you like.

The Australian Psychological Society (APS) advises that learning to handle stress in healthy ways is very important - whether it's in the leadup to your wedding or just on an average Tuesday. 

Fortunately, it is easy to learn simple techniques that can help you almost immediately and in the long term too.

Here are the APS top 7 ways to look after your mind and body and reduce stress and its impact on your health:

1) Identify the warning signs

These vary from person to person, but might include things like tensing your jaw, grinding your teeth, getting headaches, or feeling irritable and short tempered. These are the kinds of signals that you are looking to shortcut when you see your Yoga Cat sticker, for example.

2) Know your triggers

There are often-known triggers which raise our stress levels and make it more difficult for us to manage. If you know what the likely triggers are, you can aim to anticipate them and practise calming yourself down beforehand, or even find ways of removing or avoiding the trigger. Triggers might include late nights, deadlines, seeing particular people, hunger or over-tired children.

3) Establish a routine

Having predictable rhythms and routines in your day, or over a week, such as regular times for exercise and relaxation, meal times, waking and bedtimes, can be very calming and reassuring, and can help you to manage your stress.

4) Look after your health

Make sure you are eating healthy food and getting regular exercise. Take time to do activities you find calming or uplifting, such as listening to music, walking or dancing. Avoid using alcohol, tobacco or other drugs to cope.

5) Notice your ‘self-talk'

When we are stressed we sometimes say things in our head, over and over, that just add to our stress. This unhelpful self-talk might include things like: ‘I can't cope', or ‘I'm too busy', or ‘I'm so tired', or ‘it's not fair'. Try more helpful self-talk like ‘I'm coping well given what's on my plate', or ‘calm down', or ‘breathe easy'.

6) Spend time with people who care

Spending time with people you care about, and who care about you, is an important part of managing ongoing stress in your life. Share your thoughts and feelings with others when opportunities arise. Don't ‘bottle up' your feelings.

7) Practise relaxation

Make time to practise relaxation. This will help your body and nervous system to settle and readjust. Consider learning a formal relaxation technique such as progressive muscle relaxation, meditation or yoga; or make time to absorb yourself in a relaxing activity such as gardening or listening to music.

 

When to seek professional help

If high levels of stress continue for a long period of time, or are interfering with you enjoying a healthy life, it is worth seeking professional help. A mental health professional, like a psychologist, can help you identify behaviours and situations that are contributing to high stress, and help you to make changes to the things that are within your control. Seeking help can be one way to manage your stress effectively.

 

To talk to an APS psychologist, speak to your GP about a referral or contact the APS Find a Psychologist Service by calling 1800 333 497 or visiting the website: www.findapsychologist.org.au

 

How are you managing your stress levels during your wedding planning? Let us know your tips in the comments.

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