A recent study found that 96% of engaged couples find wedding planning to be extremely stressful. In fact, 71% of those involved stated that it was even more stressful than other big life events like finding a new job or moving house. It’s understandable as it’s meant to be one of the biggest and best days of your life, you’ve possibly spent thousands and there are endless things that could go wrong. Anybody within their right mind would be a ball of nerves.
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Even if you’ve never planned a wedding yourself it’s clear to see how stressful they can be. Although I’m sure many couples work together to plan the big day, somehow the bride-to-be always ends up feeling the bulk of the anxiety. Add wedding planning to the usual hectic lifestyle of the 21st century, and you have a recipe for emotional and mental burnout.
Whether or not you’re involved in the bride-to-bes planning or not, there are various ways you can help them manage, one of which is encouraging self-care.
What is self-care?
“Self-care is a crucial part of keeping your cup at a safe, operational level. When we feel ourselves running low on physical, emotional and mental energy, it allows us to step aside and begin to recharge. How you practice self-care is an individual preference and it can range from simply reading a book to going on vacation.”
Basically put, self-care is an essential practice to help prevent ourselves from becoming burnt out. By practicing self-care on a daily basis we are essentially allowing out body and minds to slow down and decompress. It’s far too easy to become wrapped up in the daily grind, walking through life on autopilot. But by refusing to slow down, we allow ourselves to accumulate days, months and even years of pent up stress and emotion.
Practicing self-care, no matter how small, can help relieve that stress. Things like taking time to yourself to read a book, play a video game or going for a relaxing walk can all help release the pressure we feel on a day to day basis.
10 Self-Care gifts for the bride-to-be
1. A Calming, lavender heat bag or microwave heating pack.
A wheat bag is perfect after a long day of wedding planning. They have natural therapeutic properties and are a non-invasive, drug free way to help alleviate pain. They’re not only useful during the long winter months, but they can also be used as a cooling bag during the summer months (I know! I was surprised too). But that’s not the end to the magical benefits of wheat bags. They retain heat for quite a while and so can be useful in relieving stiffness, cramps, back pain, muscle ache and even stress.
But how do they work? Wheat bags contain sterilized grains which are then enclosed within a soft, fabric wrap. The wheat naturally retains moisture which gives it impressive insulating properties. This allows them to retain their heat for about an hour if not longer (depending on the type of wheat bag used).
Lavender is known for its soothing properties and when heated, the wheat bag gives off a beautiful, long lasting scent. Perfect after a day of wedding planning!
2. Aromatherapy Products.
Speaking of scents, aromatherapy and essential oils are known to have multiple benefits. With so many ways to diffuse almost any scent, there are a variety of gift options out there. One of my personal favourite is aromatherapy jewellery! Why? Because you can carry scents with you anywhere you go. You can even mix and match scents for the perfect blend.
But how can different scents affect our brains? Certain scents are known for their stress-relieving properties, while others are best for encouraging bursts of energy. Sweet Orange has been proven to boost motivation and focus, while oils such as chamomile and rose can reduce symptoms of anxiety.
As mentioned there are many different ways you can use essential oils. From home diffusers to direct application, there’s something to suit everyone.
3. A Journal.
Evidence suggests that we carry over 60,000 thoughts in our heads on a daily basis. That’s a lot. Add in wedding planning to the mix and stress levels are bound to be running high! One of the best ways to work through our thoughts is to write them down. I started to keep a worry journal where I would write down everything that’s going on inside my head and, guess what? It works! I might not fix the issue but it stops it running a muck inside my skull!
One of the best things you can do is encourage your friend or family member to recognise and release their stress in a healthy way. There are numerous journals out there including gratitude journals, worry journals and even bullet journals. Or you can simply purchase a cute blank notebook for them to do with what they want.
4. A Weighted Blanket.
There’s nothing I love more than my weighted blanket. I was gifted one from my partner for Christmas and we both use it for napping on the couch or when the nights are a little warmer. I can’t explain it but we both report feeling more rested after using it and I even find that it helps me meditate. But why is that?
Weighted blankets were first created for people with sensory processing disorders as an alternative therapy to help release anxieties. The weight of the blanket helps create a ‘hug’ or ‘swaddle’ effect, which promotes a feeling of security and helps release tension in the body. They’ve since been used to help combat a range of things including sleep disorders, mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety, symptoms of PTSD, restless leg syndrome, chronic pain, fibromyalgia, and symptoms of stress.
Providing the bride-to-be with a weighted blanket would be the perfect way to say ‘don’t worry, you’ve got this!‘
5. A Pamper Hamper.
I’m talking face-masks, body scrub, bath bombs and, of course, wine. Or their drink of choice. You can get pre-packaged gift hampers or you can make one up yourself. Pick up a basket or hamper, add the gifts you want and even wrap it up in a bow for that extra WOW factor.
*COVID-19 means that a lot of us are keeping our self care indoors. Although we’re unable to head to the local salon or the spa for some much deserved relaxation, a pamper hamper can make the best out of a bad situation. Gather up all the necessary pieces for an ‘at home spa’ experience and the bride-to-be can have a chilled out evening while adhering to social distancing.
6. A Movie Night.
Few things are better than a night in with a takeaway, movie, and some good friends. It’s cheaper than a night out, you don’t need to get dressed up and you have the luxury of sleeping whenever you want.
What’s better is that you don’t even have to be in the same room together to get the most out of your movie night thanks to things like Netflix’s Party. It’s the perfect night in for those who’re still shielding.
7. A Spa Day.
One of the best ways to decompress is by heading to your local spa. I’ve been to spas by myself and I’ve also gone with a group of friends. Both of which are the perfect therapy! Treat the bride-to-be to a massage, facial, or reflexology session before taking your time going from the sauna to the jacuzzi. Shop around for somewhere that suits you both and remember that Groupon always has a variety of deals to help cut the costs.
Are you planning the hen party? A spa day might even be the perfect place for a relaxed and sophisticated hen night!
*COVID-19 has made things a little difficult in regards to attending the local spa or heading out for a well deserved massage. But not to worry! Although you may not be able to get a massage therapist for the foreseeable future, you can bring a similar version of spa to the bride. See the ‘pamper hamper’ above for more details.
8. Hit up a Yoga Class Together.
Exercise is one of the best ways to relieve stress. Even a slow moving exercise like yoga can work wonders for our mental health. If you’re social distancing, don’t worry! Simply start a call with Zoom or a similar programme, pop on a Yoga tutorial on Youtube and you can easily join the bride-to-be for some easy morning exercise. Or if you’re in an area where yoga studios are re-opening, why not book a class together?
9. A Bath Caddy.
A bath caddy is best complemented with a bottle of wine or bubbly, some chocolate and, of course, bath bombs. Encourage the bride-to-be kick back and relax in a hot bubble bath. Bonus points if you the caddy has room for a tablet or phone so they can watch their favourite shows! They come in many different shapes, sizes and styles so there is something to suit even the fussiest of brides.
10. Offer to Help.
Sometimes the best gift of all comes in the smallest packages. If you really want to help the bride-to-be, offer to help out in any way that you can. You might offer to take the kids for a while, visiting bridal fairs, view venues with them, or even just escape for a glass of wine at the local bar. Kindness doesn’t have to be purchased and quite often the most appreciated gift is allowing someone to unload their worries.