Yes! Your s/o finally put a ring on it and you have said the magic word. "BITCH, I'm engaged... so why do I feel so anxious?"
You were over the moon, truly, beaming from ear to ear when you told your friends and family. Then the wedding planning begins! Talking about dream locations, must have food and having everyone you love all together *Dreamy sigh*. But, somewhere along the way some rose from those tinted glasses flaked away and revealed some less favourable feelings. You and wedding planning seem to have gone through the 'honeymoon' period, because now you've found yourself worrying: about getting everything done, about certain family members poking in their noses or opinions, worried about speeches or being the centre of attention. "Hey anxiety - I was really hoping to see a 'Not Attending' on your RSVP."
These feelings are more unwelcome right now because you just don't have the time to deal with them, there is so much to get done and organise! Sure, you would love to have it both ways. Work through the to-do list AND loosen that knot in your tummy where the butterflies used to be. What you need right now is an immediate solution. Well Queen, read on.
Before we get any further, I want to point out that you are not alone in these feelings of anxiety. In the 7 years I've worked as a wedding planner, I have not once worked with a couple that didn't say they felt anxious, stressed or overwhelmed during their planning process. The problem is, weddings have connotations of beauty which sometimes plays a role in why we don't want to discuss negative feelings. This is where journaling comes in.
I know you might be thinking up memories of cringey Dear Diary moments - when I was a kid, I was no stranger to those little diaries with crappy little padlocks and keys, which inevitably got prised open because I then lost the crappy keys. But journaling has proven to be an excellent tool to navigate through feelings of anxiety and stress. In fact, journaling is a fantastic way to understand complex feelings and acts as a buffer between them, which will help clear your head. Now who doesn't need a bit of extra headspace when it comes to planning a wedding?
The beauty of journaling is it's an immediate solution to combat feelings of anxiety. This is because you can record your feelings anywhere at almost any time. Journaling is a technique that is complimentary to a busy schedule PLUS it is for your eyes only, so you can explore your thoughts honest and openly. Is your venue coordinator taking forever to get back to your emails? Has your tone-deaf aunt asked to sing at the wedding for the fifteenth time? Or have the restrictions for social gatherings changed AGAIN? Open your journal and let it out - no judgements, no guilt necessary. Doesn't that sound nice?
Ready to give journaling a try? Here are 3 exercises that you can do in as little as 5 minutes.
1. Guided Journaling
If you are new to journaling then this may be the perfect solution for you. There are some fantastic apps you can use but my favourite is DiveThru. Using a step by step method, this guided journaling experience takes you out of your active mind and offers a library of helpful prompts to get you going (there's even one for writing your wedding vows). This effective method takes you through five key stages: guided introspection, hand-written journaling, reflective introspection, journal review, and self-summary in a choice of 6, 12 or 18 minute sessions. Perfect for busy schedules, overwhelmed minds and journal novices.
2. Gratitude List
Practicing gratitude and having affirmations is the best friend of self-care for good reason - because it works! Studies have shown practicing gratitude reduces anxiety, improves self-esteem and helps you sleep better.
There are literally so many exercises within the gratitude category but the easiest I have found is what we call 'The classic journaling exercise' where you write a list of everything you a grateful for. If you want to give this a try, I suggest doing it once a week and aim for 10 things each time. Remember to try and be specific when writing what it is you're grateful for e.g. instead of writing "I'm grateful for my best friend," try "I'm grateful that my best friend is supportive during my wedding planning." It will make it easier to write your list and you will have a stronger sense of fulfilment when you reflect on the list later.
It also helps to keep it fresh. Try to think of different things each time you do this exercise or give lists a theme. For example you can focus on friends one week, then your work life, things you enjoy etc.
3. Write a Letter You Don't Send.
This might be a great one for our tone-deaf Aunt from earlier.
When we are feeling anxious about an interaction we tend to conduct a running dialogue in our head about what was said, what could be said and everything in between. Though a real conversation may be necessary at some point, writing a letter that you won't send will help rid some of that inner dialogue and release some overwhelming emotional energy. Be honest and don't hold back.
Our anxious feelings usually prevent us from speaking our truths in the moment which can leave us feeling dissatisfied with the result of this interaction, think ghost with unfinished business vibes. The brain works in cycles and the act of writing this letter and releasing your desired response to the interaction can trick the brain into believing that the task has been completed and the "unfinished business" is resolved. Now your brain is happy and we can address the interaction with a clearer state of mind. Just remember not to send that letter to avoid an awkward moment. 🙈
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