The Silent Creeper

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The Silent Creeper

The thing I've found with anxiety is that it's a bit of a silent creeper. Slowly and quietly, little by little it sneaks up on you until you are in its grasp!  

It might start out masquerading as the usual butterflies or nerves that everyone experiences naturally as they go about their life. Feelings are there to alert us to situations, good, boring and potential threats. But when you start getting a fight or flight response in a work or personal setting or constant strange thoughts then things are definitely not what they should be.

They're supposed to help us, not control us and definitely not dictate the way we live on a daily basis. 

Learning how to control my feelings (without making out like I'm a robot) has been a total game changer for me in how I can manage my anxious feelings. 

For a really loooong time I didn't have any feelings other than anxiety. It took quite a whie before it dawned on me that I was feeling a bit numb but once I had realised, I was quite distressed by it.

It took probably 2 and a half years and the birth of my first daughter for things to start coming back. I was terrified that I wouldn't be able to love the baby and it was only through pregnancy yoga classes where I was able to focus entirely on the baby and not on how I was feeling that I was able to get some return of other feelings. 

Waking up at 3am that first night in hospital with my hours old baby was thrilling when I could actually feel a surge of love for her. I think that's possibly why I felt like super woman after 40 hrs of labour and eventual assisted delivery! 

 

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Something New- Anxiety & Me

Something New- Anxiety & Me

Since having my first daughter in 2013 I’ve been equally interested and astonished at the number of new mums I’ve come across who seem to be battling some form of anxiety.

 

I don’t mean the understandable worries you have when you bring a tiny curled up bundle home. Thinking right, what do we do now? But the type of worrying that makes you feel, well, slightly crazy actually and continually in flight or fright mode.

 

I think I've always had some form of anxiety rolling around me since childhood. Its just that for a long time I didn’t know what it was.

 

Outwardly I think I came across as pretty confident and out going but certain situations would leave me with feelings of mild panic that got progressively worse. The more it happened the longer it took for the panic feeling to go when I was going to be in the situation again or a new situation. 

 

During a particularly stressful and difficult period, I got to the point where I couldnt stop the constant worrying and obsessive thoughts about random things, racing heart and inability to sleep. The lack of sleep obviously made everything worse.

 

The other thing I struggled with was getting the help to identify what was actually going on. I had a pretty good female GP although I had recently moved to the practice. She really listened and wasn’t judgemental although the options of help were limited to self referral talking therapies and the waiting list was around 4-6 months.

 

Although it was tight financially I decided to find someone who might be able to help. I tried a few different things like hypnotherapy and counselling but although it helped It wasn’t really addressing the specific issues I was dealing with on a daily basis.

 

When I then moved house again and was literally the wrong side of a road to be in their catchment I had to switch surgeries again and really struggled to find a doctor who didn’t think I was depressed (clearly I wasn’t exactly happy) but I knew that wasn’t what I had.

 

I’ve always been a problem solver and a reader. When I wanted to know ‘why’ about something have done as much research as I can. When I found Anxiety UK I knew that was I reading was describing me.

 

I feel fortunate really that my anxiety was there before I got pregnant because I was already doing what I could to manage it. I cannot imagine the utter despair that some new mums feel in having to deal with the on set of anxiety at the same time as all the usual physical and emotional side effects of giving birth. 

Can a Bridezilla be tamed?

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Can a Bridezilla be tamed?

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It’s common for people to joke about the Bridezilla who sometimes appears in someone they know planning their wedding. This person is so narrowly focused on creating their idea of a perfect day that any rational thought of anything else goes out the window.

Sheena Bounsanga is a mindfulness coach, certified reflexologist and a reiki practitioner. Basically she’s a one stop zen shop! I spoke to her to find how out how this practice could be incorporated into planning your wedding.

Mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment without judgment.  How often during your wedding planning process have you found yourself freaking out about the little things or maybe even the number of things you need to do?

Planning a wedding can be stressful, there are lots of decisions to make! It’s impossible to make every decision at the same time, so it makes sense to break them down into areas. Focus on one thing at a time so you avoid overwhelm.

Stress train to Wedding central

You might be worried about whether you picked the right venue, dress, the list goes on. You’re wasting time and energy on what might happen.  And if a crisis occurs, on what has already happened. Neither of which you have any control over!

Stress and Overwhelm occur when our brains can’t catch up with how we’re feeling. When you are in either of those states the emotional storm takes over.

If you are being reactive to a situation rather than responsive you are more likely to be short or snarky in your responses. If you have a clear mind you can respond rather than react.

 With the right tools in place to help you when you hit a high stress situation you will be able to snap back and move towards a calm state more quickly.

How can I become a blissed out Bride?

Sheena’s tips are practical and designed to be easily incorporated into your daily life not based around hours of silent meditation or sitting on a cushion repeating an Om!

She recommends finding calm moments throughout your normal day to day routine so that when a ‘crisis’ situation occurs you will be in a much better place to return your body to it’s natural calm state because it wont be an alien experience.

If you think you don’t have time – you’re wrong!

If you have time to go up or downstairs, or sit at a red light then you can add this practice into your day and you will be equipped to be calmer rather than in fight or flight mode.

There are a few simple things you can do:

Take three big deep breaths, you don’t have to worry about inhaling or exhaling for any particular length of time. This will send a signal to your brain to relax

Anxiety is your body sending a message to your brain to prepare the fight or flight response because it believes you are in danger. Breathing is a natural approach to reduce these sensations.

Finger mantras – touch each of the tips of your fingers with your thumb as you repeat the 4 parts of the mantra: My favorite is the first one but you can add any other four word phrases that are specific to you:

 

Thumb to little finger – I

Thumb to ring finger – AM

Thumb to middle finger – O

Thumb to first finger – K

OR 

Be Here Right Now

I Am Just Fine

If you can do these when you are in a calm state then when a crisis hits and you use them, you will be able reduce your stress levels far more quickly.

See, I told you it was easy!

It’s all about Perspective – Life will throw you curve balls

But it’s how you deal with them that will determine the sort of experience you have. Life is what you make it.

During Sheena’s outdoor wedding ceremony loud punk music could be heard coming from a skate boarding competition taking place in a local park. They forgot the shoes and fairy wings they had purchased for their 18 month old flower girl and they also managed to forget the marriage license!

Any one of these situations could have been made into a huge drama and been allowed to have a negative impact on their day. Instead, they chose to joke that actually the punk music was the song of their first dance, which still makes them laugh when they hear it now. Their daughter wore a bright pair of sandals which still look cute in the pictures and then later in the evening when they got home they signed the license and everything was finally made official!

Sheena and her husband made a conscious decision to focus on the important part of the day for them, the love they felt for one and other and being present.

Like most things, if you do the work….

Doing this work is the same as doing a body fitness boot camp, you wouldn’t expect to attend one session and immediately reach your body goal. Its something that has to be developed over time.

If you can approach working out your mind in the same way then you can be mentally prepared as well as physically.

You will start to see results in a very short space time and it’s an easy life skill to master which you can still be using long after the ‘I Do’. 

For advice and tips on planning your perfect wedding without the stress and overwhelm please visit my website www.claireenston.com.  This is a Bridezilla free zone, however tiaras are positively encouraged ! 

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Advice for an Introverted Bride

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Advice for an Introverted Bride

Layla Banner

Advice for an Introverted Bride

The thought of planning a wedding can be an overwhelming thought for the most outgoing Bride to be.

 So, how do you cope with planning an event that is going to make you the centre of attention when you are a self confessed introvert? When you would happily stay at home in your own little world rather than venture out.

Introversion is considered a personality trait and tends to involve being more self aware, thoughtful and quiet or reserved in large groups. It can be energetically draining to be in noisy, busy social situations.

Layla Saad had that to contend with in the run up to her wedding back in 2008.  She admits that even now seven years on, just thinking about the planning process is overwhelming! “All of the little details associated with a wedding are just not my thing. My energy is drained so easily by making those sorts of decisions. To make things easier for myself I would just end up choosing the first thing I saw.”

 

The love story!

 Layla and Sam have a wonderfully romantic story. They spoke to each other for the first time on Christmas Day and when Sam flew to Qatar from Dublin to meet in person 8 weeks later, it was quite literally love at first site! They decided to get married straight away and the date was set for Valentines day.

As practicing Muslims, their marriage involved two parts. A legal ceremony and a big celebration which involves the Bride, Groom and her family being seated on a raised stage facing their guests after a procession through the room. Potentially an ordeal for an introvert!

The legal ceremony is viewed almost as an engagement period where both parties agree to marry. A couple are then free to get to know each other better, without the need for chaperones.

With the first part attended by only 20 people, attentions then turned to the big celebration scheduled for July.

Layla and Sam both have incredible Arab African heritage that spans from East Africa and Oman to Cardiff and Dublin! So they had a number of cultural elements to fuse together.

The main event was an evening do at the Marriott Hotel Doha. Traditionally weddings can have from 300-500 guests, so to have settled on 150 this was viewed as an intimate event!


A novel idea!

In a bid to stop overwhelm from setting in, Layla decided to hand all of the planning over to her mother. Surely something a significant number of Mothers would be beside themselves with glee to have the opportunity to do! Her Father was also given the job of sourcing the music.

“Initially when we started the planning process and were looking at venues I was bored and not enjoying things at all which initially upset my Mum. I had to reassure her that it was only because I didn’t enjoy it rather than because I didn’t appreciate what she was doing or that the day itself wasn’t important to me.”

Trying to minimize the stress you put yourself (and others) through when planning a wedding makes sense. Use any and all offers of help that come your way as long as you trust the person will deliver what you are after. Alternatively consider using a professional to guide you through all or part of the process.

Layla continues “My advice to an introverted Bride would be to hand over all of the details that you know are going to drain your energy to someone you trust who will take care of them. I made two decisions for the wedding, my dress and the flowers! My wedding wouldn’t have been as elegant if it had been down to me. I trusted my mother 100%”

“Because I knew the planning side of things was taken care of I was able to focus on the excitement of seeing all of my friends and family who had travelled from the UK and Oman for the wedding.”

“When I walked into the room I was super happy to see all of our friends and family. I wasn’t nervous at all because I hadn’t allowed myself to get stressed out about the day itself.”

“The hardest part in the run up was that my parents had a lot of our guests staying at their house, but in line with our cultural traditions no-one sees the Bride for a few days before the wedding. So I could hear everyone partying and having a great time but I couldn’t join in!”

By working to her own strengths Layla was able to navigate the planning process with next to no stress and achieve her perfect day!

 

For tips and advice on planning a stress free wedding then head on over to my website www.claireenston.com

I don’t do tantrums – this is a Bridezilla free zone, however Tiaras are positively encouraged!

 

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How to banish stress and overwhelm and plan your perfect wedding

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How to banish stress and overwhelm and plan your perfect wedding

So, you’ve sorted the dress, the venue, the menu, the guest list, the bridesmaids, the seating plan, the flowers, you get the picture. Everything is done, right?

 When it comes to planning a wedding the majority of people understandably focus all of their time and attention on the material side of the day. It starts with wildly pinning picture perfect images of vintage styled barn weddings. The perfect flowers, the perfect stationary, the perfect everything.

 And that’s where things can slowly but surely start to feel a little stressful and overwhelming. How are YOU going to live up to that level of perfection? Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE a Pinterest board and some vintage bunting. But when your focus becomes solely about the material side of the day is when the sweetest of Brides to be can start morphing into a fire breathing Bridezilla who sends all those that know and love her running for cover.

 No-one wants their wedding to be remembered for the wrong reasons, you know “it was a great day but hell, Susan was such a flippin nightmare in the run up to it that we were just relieved to get it over with” Ouch! And that’s probably the PG version!

 There is a lot of pressure for everything to be right or perfect but if you can keep that in perspective then you’ve got more of a chance of negotiating the run up to the day itself with your sanity intact and your family and friends and maybe even your partner not wanting to send you somewhere far, far away.

 One aspect that often gets overlooked is actually a pretty simple one:

 

How do you want to feel on your wedding day?

How do you hope your fiancée will feel? 

What is the focus of your day?

What would you like your guests to remember?

 

By stopping and taking a little bit of time to think about those things, you might even find that bits you thought were important aren’t and vice versa. Something that initially seemed insignificant could turn out to be something you then remember forever.

 Because when it all comes down it, at the heart of everything is two people celebrating a declaration that they will love and cherish the person standing opposite them for the rest of their lives.

 In 10, 20, 30, 40 years are you going to remember the details of the material things or are you going to remember how you felt? When you put on your dress, when you walked down the aisle, when you watched your guests laughing and dancing, enjoying themselves. Creating a memory bank of wonderful experiences is what life is about. I’d love to know what yours are.

 For advice and tips on planning your perfect wedding without the stress and overwhelm please visit my website www.claireenston.com.  This is a Bridezilla free zone, however tiaras are positively encouraged! 

 

 

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Go with the Flow

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Go with the Flow

Once you have a ceremony and reception venue booked then you can start thinking about how your day will flow. It’s super important to keep the momentum going during the day.  Your venue or caterer should be able to advise you on this based on your specific needs. 

Its all about Momentum

Think about weddings that you’ve been to, what did you like or dislike.  What felt really fun and what didn’t work quite so well? Now I’m not suggesting you bandy this around as people generally don’t love having things about their wedding day criticized! But really think about what you think and could incorporate into your day.

 Don’t starve or bore them

Were you thirsty or starving or worse BORED at any point during a wedding you’ve been to?! It’s completely understandable that you want to have time with your photographer to get all the lovely shots of you together but what are your guests going to be doing during this time? Depending on the time your ceremony starts and whether people have had a long journey can affect when they are able to eat. I’m not suggesting you are responsible for this but it pays to be thoughtful, particularly if there are children attending.

 Tell them what to expect

Letting your guests have an idea of what time things are going to happen before the day itself or as they arrive can help them to relax and enjoy the bit that’s happening! It takes away the feeling of waiting, waiting, waiting to find out what's happening next.

 Magic Moments

What can you do that will make your day memorable? Although the day is primarily about you as a couple, everyone likes to feel special and hopefully all the people there on the day are important to you! Little personal touches such as a note on their place setting or table plan can make your guests feel a million dollars. Happy guests equal a happy Bride & Groom! 

So there you have it, by taking some simple steps you create a day to remember for you and your guests! 

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Where to start when you're planning your wedding

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Where to start when you're planning your wedding

Where to start when you’re planning your wedding

 

Where should you start

It can sometimes feel that you’re at the bottom of ten Everest’s with all the many things that need thinking about and doing when planning a wedding.  How do you avoid stress and overwhelm when you’re planning the most important day of your life?

 Heading towards overwhelm central

If you think about everything that needs to be done in one go then it is going to feel a little overwhelming. There are literally hundreds of things that need to be sorted out and everyone has got an opinion on what works and what doesn’t, what looks good or what an awful wedding that their best friends sister in laws cousin had - Arghhhh!

STOP and breathe

Initially, don’t worry about what anyone else is saying. Once you and your husband to be have agreed on budget and the type of day that you’ll both enjoy,  the best thing to do is break it all down in to manageable areas.

Bite size chunks

Planning a wedding is really just making a series of decisions (if this is something you struggle to do then you’ll get plenty of chances to practice!) There’s a natural  traditional flow to the day, so think about those things in order first but don’t feel that you have to be a slave to what’s included in them:

 Ceremony

Reception

Evening Do

Once you’ve made decisions on these then you can start padding them out. If they’re all happening in the same place – brilliant! Then you can start thinking about what happens during each part. So, for the Ceremony, if it’s in a church for example, do you know how the vicar likes to run things? What will the order of service be? Do you need to print it or will the church?

 Where will it be

I would suggest picking a reception venue before you do anything else. The venue is going to set the tone of the whole wedding. If you go for a grand city venue there’s going to be a very different feel than if you go for a rural barn location. Whichever you choose the steps you go through to make the day a success will be the same.

Take Help where you can 

 If you have a wedding planner within your venue they should be giving you information on what they need and how things will work from their point of view. Make sure you use them but also think about speaking to the food and beverage or catering manager to see if there is anything they think works well or what really doesn’t work.

 Now the fun starts

Once you have the key decisions on ceremony and reception venues made then you can start to see the day taking shape. Now is the time that you can start thinking about all of the really fun stuff that is going to make your day unique.

For tips and advice on planning a stress free wedding then head on over to my website www.claireenston.com

 I don’t do tantrums – this is a Bridezilla free zone, however Tiaras are positively encouraged! 

 

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First things first....

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First things first....

First things first

OK, so you’ve finally got that gorgeous sparkly ring on your finger and practically got a suntan from basking in the glow of attention from all the Congratulations that have been coming your way! Now you actually have to start planning the Wedding….

 First things first, now that it’s all real – What do you want? And by you, I mean both of you! You may well have had YOUR dream Wedding planned out in your head for years or you may have absolutely no idea what the hell you want. Either way you also need to take into account what your other half wants as well (sorry but you do).  

 To keep stress on the down low it’s probably better that you are both happy about the type of wedding you have. Before you start wildly searching for suitable castles on Google it might be an idea to narrow down exactly what you both feel comfortable with.

 Here are a few questions to ask yourselves to get the planning ball rolling:

 Dream scenario what would I want….

Number of guests

Type of ceremony

Type of reception venue

Feel of the day e.g. relaxed or formal

Do this independently and see where you end up. Hopefully you’re both up for pink flamingos on the Croquet lawn, which I actually did with one awesome couple. If not, there’s one little pesky word that will follow you into marriage, you may well have to compromise.

 There’s no way someone who wants something small and intimate is going to enjoy planning something big and brassy. I’m a firm believer in not adhering to anyone else’s rules or ideas about what needs to happen at a wedding. You can do whatever you want to

 Without wanting to go all Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis on you, if the answers to any of the above are not compatible with your budget then its time to get creative. Another thing that will put pressure on you when planning is if one of you is worried about funding it.

 

For tips and advice on planning a stress free wedding then head on over to my website www.claireenston.com   I don’t do tantrums – it's a Bridezilla free zone, however tiaras are positively encouraged! 

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