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Take an Assessment
Know what you can handle and whom you can count on for help and support before you walk down the aisle. "I give my brides questionnaires to help evaluate their stress levels and focus on how to reduce, manage, and eliminate them," says Jeri Kadison, a bridal coach in New York City. Ask yourself, "What do I foresee as being a source of stress?" and "How do I plan to manage it?" Preparation and self-awareness are key.
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With so much to do and stay on top of (not to mention the life-changing event to come), it's easy to feel overwhelmed. Clear your head of worries. Start focusing on the in-and-out cycle of your breath for just a few minutes a day or when you're lying in bed at night. It will help slow your heart rate and relax your muscles, too.
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Consider Softening Scents
Lavender is well-known for its soul-soothing capabilities, but others, like jasmine, chamomile, and basil, have proven relaxing benefits as well. "Dab some lavender or rose essential oil onto your wrists to shift your mood quickly," Kadison says. Or, light a perfumed candle or brew a cup of floral tea for a little sweet-smelling repose.
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Stay Connected with Your Fiance
Under the pressure and stress of planning a wedding, it's easy to lose touch with the person you love most -- your groom-to-be. Schedule date nights, be it a dinner out or a movie in, to squeeze in some quality alone time. And, if you have any concerns about your upcoming nuptials (it's natural), find the courage to tell him. "If you two can weather the storms of your engagement anxiety together, it bodes well for your marriage," says Sheryl Paul, a counselor in Boulder, Colorado.
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Adopt a Mantra
Is your future mother-in-law getting on your last nerve? Find a solitary spot and close your eyes. Breathe in thinking "I feel good," and breathe out thinking "I am peaceful." Mantras like this have served as Zen portals for monks and yogis for ages, and they can help you find your calm, too.
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Take Care of Your Yourself
Really. If you haven't already upped your prewedding workout routine, here's good reason to: Exercise has positive emotional and psychological effects. Take a walk, go for a run, or dance around your kitchen. Any type of physical movement will help produce more uplifting and stress-stablizing endorphins.
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Allow Yourself to Be Nervous
It's okay to feel a little jittery. "Our culture and society believe that engagement is supposed to be only a happy time, but that's just not reality," says Paul. In fact, fear often accompanies prewedding excitement and joy. It's normal, healthy even, to question this lifetime commitment, and just because you're concerned, that doesn't mean you don't want to get married. Acknowledge your nerves, discuss them with a trusted confidant, and move on. If your nerves start getting the best of you, find a close loved one to confide in. She can help you traverse the tricky transition from girlfriend to fiancee to wife.
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Jot Down Your Feelings
"Journaling is a safe and accessible way for you to express the emotions you've been bottling up," Paul says. "It'll help them from festering into anxiety." Identify what's bothering you, and address that topic solely. For example, if you're upset that your late father won't be there to walk you down the aisle, title the entry "Missing Dad," and stay on theme to avoid flooding yourself with too many emotions at once.
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Don't Be Afraid to Delegate
You can't handle everything by yourself -- as super as you may be. Weddings are major endeavors, so enlist friends and family to help make place cards, tie bows onto favors, and run errands.
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A massage, a facial, or even a manicure and pedicure in a spa setting can do wonders for your stress levels. "When times get tough, don't think of these as indulgences. Think of them as necessities for staying well-balanced and on task," says Kadison. If you can't spring a spa, settle into the tub from time to time. A nice bath can melt stress away.