By Kate Horney
Stress is something that busy brides are all too familiar with.
Planning your wedding is a very exciting time. But let’s be honest… it’s also pretty stressful.
Whether it’s in response to physical, mental or emotional stress, when your body senses pressure it responds. External factors, things like picking flowers, finding a venue, deciding on a dress, etc. And internal factors, things like perfectionism, negativity, worry, etc all cause your body to release hormones.
When you first become stressed, your body releases “stress” hormones including epinephrine, norepinephrine and cortisol.
It’s not uncommon for cortisol levels to go up and down throughout the day–like when you wake up or workout–but the issues arise when you suffer from chronic stress–like weeks and weeks with limited sleep, worry, etc. leading up to your big day.
Chronic stress causes cortisol levels to elevate and never return to a normal state.
Here’s what busy brides need to know about cortisol:
- Cortisol is an appetite stimulate: High levels of cortisol make you want to eat and have been shown to increase cravings for carbohydrates.
- Cortisol is catabolic (causing a breakdown of lean muscle): The breakdown of this muscle leads to decreased metabolic capacity and increased fat storage.
- Cortisol causes fat storage: When cortisol levels are high for long periods of time, your body can store food as fat and refuse to burn the fat that you do have. Essentially, your body is saving fuel.
- Cortisol causes fat storage in your belly: Studies show that cortisol may even be responsible for taking fat from other places in the body and moving it to your stomach (which naturally has more cortisol receptors) as a way to protect and surround your organs…causing MORE belly fat than before.
What can you do about elevated cortisol?
Here are some real-life tips for stress free wedding planning:
- Get Enough Sleep: A lack of sleep signals your body to release cortisol. The first and most important thing you can do when it comes to balancing cortisol, and reducing stress is to get enough sleep and to make rest and recovery a priority.
- Plan Ahead for Stress: When you begin the wedding planning process, start by taking considering the areas that may become the most stressful. Evaluate stress levels and brainstorm ways to tackle stress. What do you you foresee as being a source of stress? How do you plan to manage it? Preparation and self-awareness go a long way in keeping stress at a manageable level.
- Avoid Overtraining: Long duration workouts cause elevated cortisol levels and can stress your body in an unnecessary way. For optimal recovery and hormonal balance, focus on short duration, high intensity workouts. Get our BeyondFit Bride workouts!
- Include stress reducing activities: When possible, try to lower cortisol by doing restorative activities like leisurely walking and having quiet time to distress (even if it’s just 5 minutes!) With so much to do and stay on top of during wedding planning, it’s important that you take time to clear your head of worries, slow your heart rate and relax your muscles.
- Try anti-stress supplements: If you’re not getting the vitamins and minerals you need through quality nutrition (B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, chromium and zinc) consider taking a supplement. Even a multivitamin may be helpful. Other helpful supplements include antioxidants like vitamin C, alpha lipoic acid, grapeseed extract, and CoQ10. Some research also shows that adaptogen herbs like ginseng, astragalus, eleuthero, schizandra, Tulsi (holy basil), rhodiola, and ashwagandha help the body cope with the side effects of stress and rebalance the metabolism. These supplement and herbs will not only lower cortisol levels but they will also help you decrease the effects of stress on the body by boosting the immune system as you work towards optimal hormonal balance.
- Have a support system: Maintaining your support system helps in so many ways. Of course it’s great to have people you can delegate wedding to-do list tasks to, but even beyond that, just having someone to talk to, share frustrations with, etc will be helpful. Don’t be afraid to reach out and make sure you have a proper support system in place.
Most importantly, as you’re planning your big day, remember that two of you are embarking on a life-long adventure together. Everything else is just icing on the cake!
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