Even if you’re the coolest, calmest and most-collected couple around, weddings can be majorly nerve-wracking.
There’s nothing like an expensive party with everyone you know in one room, where you have to stand up in front of them all and be majorly gushy to your other half – and perform a dance! – to give you a serious case of butterflies. (That makes it sound way scarier than it is, I promise!).
I’ve written before about how I worked on easing my anxiety in the weeks and months before my wedding and the things couples can do to make planning less stressful, but what about your pre-wedding nerves on the day itself?
Some brides or grooms will pray, others will meditate, and some will hit the bubbly. For me, it was a great playlist, and my husband by my side. But what about relaxation and nutrition?
Today, we’ve got the fabulous Alice Mackintosh on hand to share her wisdom. A London-based nutritional therapist, co-author of bestselling book The Happy Kitchen, Good Mood Food, and co-founder of Equi London (who make award-winning supplements that brides love!), Alice has made helping people feel their best, her day job.
So who better to share her tips on feeling relaxed, rested, and anxiety-free in the hours before you walk down the aisle? Take it away Alice…
Tomorrow is the big day. You’ve been planning it for months (or maybe even years) and it’s finally here. You’re excited, and a little bit nervous.
Will the fish be perfectly cooked? Will the weather hold out? Will crazy Aunt Eva dress appropriately? And how will you deal with it if you wake up with a spot on the end of your nose?
No matter how prepared you are, it’s easy to see why a busy mind might be enough to keep you wide-awake the night before your wedding day. The good news is there are lots of things you can do to help you wind down and get some good quality shut eye.
Aside from raiding the prosecco stash, which is far from ideal if you want to look fresh, radiant and feel your best, good nutrition can really help.
I specialise with skin health and therefore see many brides in the run up to their big day. After skin, one of the things I get asked about the most by brides is how to get quality rest the night before and wind down.
Here are my top tips…
Cortisol is a big hitter in the body – it has enormous impacts on the way we function.
It’s the hormone responsible for waking us up, keeping us alert, warm and compos mentis; but it is also the driving force behind our all important ‘fight or flight’ response.
When you’re feeling stressed, cortisol is normally secreted in increased amounts to help get you through. As important as this is, we don’t want too much cortisol floating around before bed as it keeps us awake.
Even if you don’t feel stressed per-se, cortisol can often be raised for other reasons, meaning you can’t drop off to sleep or wake up at odd times.
To manage this:
- Make sure you keep blood sugar balanced by eating three meals, each with protein, wholegrains carbs and fats. Avoid carb abundant dinners like pasta, risotto, pizza etc.
- Stimulants like caffeine, sugar, sweeteners stimulate your adrenal glands to secrete cortisol and adrenaline so ensure you limit as much as possible and cut out after 4pm.
- Try herbs such as adaptogenic ashwaghanda that have a balancing and restorative effect on the adrenal. (Equi Fundamental is a fantastic blend that contains this, as well as a multivitamin, mineral, probiotic and superfoods. My clients love this in the run up to a wedding to keep them feeling their best.)
Take An Epsom Salt Bath
An old school pastime in Britain, Epsom salts have been added to baths as a restorative, healing tonic for hundreds of years. It may not seem like much, but bathing in these salts is a powerful way to support the whole body and promote detoxification.
Epsom salts are comprised of magnesium and sulphate – two essential nutrients that are both well absorbed through the skin.
Magnesium plays a number of important roles within our brain chemistry, helping to enhance the production of feel good hormones, serotonin and dopamine.
It can help to calm the adrenals glands (the glands that work overtime when we are stressed), relieving stress and quietening a busy, tense mind.
As magnesium is a muscle relaxant, bathing in Epsom salts before bed also relaxes muscles and calms the nervous system – all perfect before you hit the hay to help you drop off and stay asleep.
If you’re new to Epsom salt baths, start by adding 200g (2-3 large handfuls) of the salts to hot water and soaking in the bath for 20-30 minutes, scrubbing the skin to promote circulation.
Over the course of around a month before your wedding, this can be built up to around 400-500g, or more depending on your size.
Aim to stay in for a minimum of 20 minutes or longer (if you have time!).
Replace Coffee with Green Tea
Though one cup a day of each is fine, overdoing coffee and black tea can contribute to energy fluctuations, anxiety and a wired, jittery feeling – hardly ideal when you’re already apprehensive.
Instead, tuck into good quality green, white tea or jasmine when you need an energy boost during the day.
They all contain a small caffeine hit to sharpen the senses, alongside a burst of antioxidants and brain boosting compounds such as EGCG, which are known for their health giving properties.
Theanine is also found in green tea (and sometimes given in supplement form to those who suffer from anxiety attacks) has been shown to improve alertness but without the wired-ness, whilst helping to reduce anxiety and tension. Don’t have it after 4pm.
Don’t Become Nutrient Deficient
It’s vital to eat the right diet consistently if you want to feel well, but the beauty of a good supplement is that it can help to speed the process up.
This is especially useful if you area bit run down and have been eating on the go so aren’t feeling on top form.
Many of us have tried supplements in the past to no avail without realising that to really get results the right formula and science is absolutely key.
The results can be better energy, better sleep, less stress, better skin, a flat tummy and strong immunity. They can also help with a hangover – bonus!
Bust Stress Quickly
Recent scientific studies have demonstrated that our brain cells actually behave differently after meditation – incorporating mindfulness into your routine is proven to counteract stress, anxiety and insomnia.
It’s also easier than ever now with apps like Headspace and Calm. The sooner you can get into the habit the better as this can really help normalise sleep patterns.
Another effective way to reduce cortisol and prepare for sleep is to breathe properly! Take two minutes alone to sit down and breath in for 4, then out for 6.
12 breaths are enough to make a real difference and it’s best to do this in the day if you can, especially if feeling anxious or tense.
So called ‘belly breathing’ is also brilliant for calming the whole body and there are many tutorials online about how to do this.
Lastly, lavender has been shown to stimulate relaxation in the brain via the olfactory systems (our smell). Add drops to a bath, mist over pillows etc. We adore This Works sleep spray!
(Disclaimer: Certain supplements are used for different reasons and a one-size-fits-all approach shouldn’t be adopted. In addition, pregnant women and anyone on medication should always consult a doctor before embarking on a supplements programme. For more information visit Equi London.)