You’ve probably always pictured your wedding planning as an exciting, if slightly stressful, time – but no one could have predicted that you’d be doing it in the middle of a global pandemic.
If you’ve gone from fretting over guest lists to wondering whether you’ll have one at all, or postponing the big day due to the outbreak of COVID-19, anxiety levels will no doubt be running high; but the important thing now, health crisis or no health crisis, is to take care of yourself.
With government measures getting stricter in order to contain the spread of the disease and a lot of uncertainty in the air, it’s a difficult time to be planning for the future. But you can be sure that one day your wedding will arrive – and in order to feel your best when it does, you need to prioritise your emotional and physical wellbeing today.
While self isolation may have been what you and your partner were looking forward to on the honeymoon, for now it’s a time to stay safe and stay well – while trying not to kill each other now that you’re sharing a home and a makeshift office. Here’s how to practise all-important self care for mind and body when you’re on lockdown.
1. Focus on the Present
The entire nation is feeling stressed right now, but the added ‘wedmin’ that you’re facing will no doubt be topping up your anxiety levels. It’s important to get this under control, says Jillian Lavender, founder of the London Meditation Centre. “Good decisions are not made under fear. Most people know they are caught in an anxiety spiral when they are either beating themselves up about something that happened in the past or they’re speculating about the future. When we are present we are going to make better decisions.”
Jillian recommends a ‘come to your senses’ exercise to bring your focus to the here and now. “Our senses are the gateway into the present moment – scanning those senses pulls us out of the future and back into what’s happening.”
How do you do it? Get comfortable and spend 20 seconds paying attention to each separate sense. Start with your sense of sound, move onto sight, then smell, taste, and touch. This will wake up your senses and make you more alert and ready to take action.
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2. Create a Routine
You’re likely to be feeling out of sorts – but setting up a basic routine could help you to feel more grounded and able to cope. “Everything has been turned upside down, and having some anchoring points in your day will help,” says Jillian, suggesting eating a nourishing lunch at the same time each day.
This is more important than ever if you’re suddenly finding yourself with a new office and colleague – that is, your living room and your partner, says psychotherapist Lucy Beresford. “Make sure you’ve got a dedicated space – one corner is your area and one is their area – as if you were in your own workplace. At the end of the day, clear that work paraphernalia away.” Feel like the lines have become too blurred? Try going for a walk first thing in the morning or at the end of the day, as if you were doing a commute – even if it’s around the block, it’ll help you compartmentalise your day and keep your relationship healthy, too.
3. Take Back Control
The government has taken a lot of decisions out of our hands – but there are still things you can control, such as making sure everyone knows if your plans are on hold or changing. “Let go of what you can’t control and focus on what you can. This is an opportunity to communicate with your guests so you still feel connected, and so you get lots of support from your friends and family as well,” explains Lucy.
If you’re feeling frustrated by all the uncertainty, try and spin the situation on its head and find the positives. “See this time as a gift in some way, not as a punishment,” advises Lucy. Was there something you wanted for your wedding that you didn’t have time for? Now you do – so plot a new Pinterest board, perfect those invitations or think about the details that you would have otherwise missed out on. “There will be moments when the delay will be problematic,” admits Lucy. “But you can turn it around and think, what is this breathing space giving me the opportunity to do?”
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4. Support Your Immune System
We’re all trying to stay fighting fit at the moment – and while we all know about the current threat to our health, stress is lurking just behind it. “Stress is very damaging for the immune system – [it’s] an immunosuppressant,” Jillian explains. “Physiologically, your immune system is being weakened because you’ve got that fight or flight chemistry, which is where meditation is so important because it releases the stress so quickly and so profoundly.”
On top of daily meditation, Jillian recommends the ayurvedic approach to keeping your digestive system strong in order to stay healthy. “Sipping hot water every thirty minutes – and at the moment it’s a good idea to have a slice of fresh ginger in it – is hugely beneficial in strengthening your digestion and immune system.”
5. Move More to Stress Less
A guaranteed way to release stress and feel better is to move more – even if that does seem tricky when you’re confined within four walls. “Exercise is definitely more important than ever right now,” agrees Julia Buckley, a personal trainer who hosts free classes on her Facebook page as well as online fitness programmes. “When we exercise our bodies produce endorphins, dopamine and serotonin – “happy hormones”. They reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, help us sleep well, think clearly and create a general feeling of wellbeing.” It’ll also help to keep illnesses at bay. “Another important benefit is keeping our immune system strong. We don’t want to overdo it as that could have the opposite effect, but moderate intensity exercise is proven to help our bodies fight off and recover from disease.”
Even if you’re in a sedentary job, you probably move around far more than you’d expect in your daily life – which is why adding home workouts into your new quarantined life is key to stay healthy and avoid weight gain. “Moves like lunges, squats, burpees and press-ups are great choices because they fire up lots of different muscles and burn a lot of energy (calories),” recommends Julia.
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6. Sleep Well
Sleep is our greatest shield against stress and ill health, but that sound you can hear each night is a nation that’s currently tossing and turning. “Sufficient sleep is important for our immune system. When we’re asleep, the body redistributes energy resources that are primarily used for the brain and muscles to function to the immune system,” explains naturopath Louise Westra.
Following these self care steps should help to improve your sleep patterns by reducing overall stress, while Jillian recommends meditation as the ultimate tool in settling the mind, which relaxes the body, making you more likely to drift off.
7. Taste the Rainbow
With supermarket restrictions in place and your usual routine flung out the window, your food choices might be looking a little different – but taking the time to eat well is key. Louise recommends eating as many different colours of fruit and veg as you can find to maximise the different vitamins and phytonutrients in your diet, but don’t worry if you have to get creative. “Vitamin C is super important, as our need for it increases with a heightened stress response. Fresh is usually preferred, but use frozen and dried options where needed,” advises Louise. “Check the frozen aisle – many frozen veg are “snap” frozen so their nutritional content is still great. Dried fruit, such as apricots and mango can be covered in water and reconstituted so it’s not as sugary.”
Batch cooking will also save you both time and money, while allowing you to make the most of your sensible stockpiling. “Good things to batch cook include dahl, veggie chilli, pasta sauce (cook the pasta fresh each night), tofu (or meat) curry. Make three dishes for the week then have two dishes for lunch and supper per day,” says nutritional therapist Amy Elisabeth.
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8. Make Some We-Time
If you’re anxious that being stuck indoors with your partner will affect your relationship, use the time to reconnect. “Hunker down as a couple and say we are going to get through this together, be kind to each other, and respect that we might wobble at some point,” says Lucy. “Have a virtual pre-honeymoon – go to a virtual art gallery as if you were going to Italy, or if you were going off to a beautiful spa in India, do a 30-day yoga programme together.” Free honeymoon? Sign us up…
Don’t forget to check out our list of the best wellbeing apps and channels to try while you’re at home, from easy yoga tutorials to breathing exercises.