Today’s blog post is about a topic that is important to me, both in my personal life and as a business woman. I hope it will help brides and grooms who are struggling with the emotional pressures of wedding planning in today’s demanding society. I also hope it will help other small business owners who may find themselves faced with overwhelming work angst, whilst already dealing with the stresses of every day life.
This blog post is about kindness and forgiveness. Possibly the two most important qualities that should define us as human beings. And certainly the two most absent qualities at the same time.
Don’t get me wrong, there are a LOT of kind people out there. They give their last penny to charity, help neighbours in need and give up precious time to make others happy. My mum was probably the kindest person I knew. She taught me the same moral code that she lived by which I strive to uphold, both personally and professionally. Always be kind. Treat others how you wish to be treated yourself. And her favourite saying: ‘we were put on this earth to help others’. I always try to be nice to everyone I meet who doesn’t know me – particularly customers and other industry professionals.I consider myself to be polite, courteous and friendly and I enjoy interacting with people.
Business Women are Brave.
Being a business woman, you need to have a certain degree of resilience to get through those tough days (and sometimes weeks..). My mum also told me that you will always get rude people, those who tell you that you are overpriced, insult your work or question your intelligence. And that’s fine. Everyone’s entitled to an opinion. After 8 years in business this year, I’ve had my fair share of moments and it never gets easier. This is one of the pitfalls of running the whole show – no hard faced admin assistant who can respond appropriately to such opinions when you feel you have no energy left to do it yourself.
I was compelled to write this blog post after an unfortunate recent experience with an unprofessional wedding supplier that, quite frankly, shook my faith in humankind. Rather than dwell on the heartless, greedy nature of the whole situation, I thought I could turn the negative experience into a positive one by offering some advice for anyone dealing with any kind of stress. Including wedding related! (we all know that wedding planning should be an enjoyable experience but the reality can be very different!)
Stress and Wedding Planning
Wedding planning shouldn’t be stressful. But it is. Massively. All sorts of emotions are running wild and unwelcome feelings arise that you’re sure you shouldn’t feel. After all, you’re getting married to the person you love! But you’re human and you can’t help but feel them. You are resentful towards your mother in law who has chosen, out of all the possible colours, to wear a white dress on the day. You are angry that you have to invite people you haven’t seen for 10 years – and their partners too. You are bitter in your fiance’s choice of best man. You are sad that the person you want to be there the most can’t be. And you are confused that you feel all these emotions at a time when you are supposed to just be happy.
So what can we do about it? We can’t change who we are and we can’t stop ourselves from feeling certain emotions. However, I have learnt a lot from my recent work-related experience (mainly that I am a really nice person compared to some people…!). I also learnt how to arm myself with some coping strategies to call on when life gets just too damn stressful. I thought I would share these with you in the hope that it can help reduce some wedding – or work – related anxiety.
Personal Qualities For Survival in the Wedding World – for brides, grooms and fellow industry suppliers!
I’ve already mentioned this one but it’s possibly the most important. The English Oxford Dictionary describes resilience as ‘the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness’. So if you’re beaten to the punch by another bride who steals your chosen venue on your chosen date, find somewhere better. If you trip up when walking down the aisle, hold your head up high and laugh it off. And if you’re a supplier whose business comes under fire for whatever reason, stand firm and stand up for yourself.
Try to think of the bigger picture. Does it really matter if you have to invite your 3rd cousin if it means you will see a smile on your mum’s face, simply because she is proud? Do you need to worry that your dress is the right shade of ivory when you are lucky enough to be surrounded by everyone you love? When talking about my work issue, my counsellor asked me to think how big and important the problem would be to me in 5 years time. And she was right – I probably won’t even remember it.
Try to think fairly and objectively. Yes, your fiance’s idea of having karaoke after your tasteful wedding breakfast fills you with horror. But it’s his wedding day too. Try to compromise and reach a happy medium that you are both comfortable with. And suppliers – we pride ourselves on our professionalism. It’s what stands us above the rest. I have found that firm and fair is the best way to deal with difficult situations. But if it’s not good enough, speak up and fight your corner. And don’t back down to bullies.
Even though it’s your wedding day, try to think of others. You may make your 3rd cousin’s day by inviting their partner to be included in such a special occasion. Save some of your wedding cake for a family member who isn’t well enough to come. Let your bridesmaids wear what they feel comfortable in. Give the honour of the first dance to your dad. And if you’re a supplier, go the extra mile for customers who show you the appreciation and respect you deserve. Negative experiences always make the positive ones so much better. And why shouldn’t the nice people we work for/with feel the benefit of their good karma!
Ok, so your mother-in-law wears white on your big day. Big deal. It may be the only thing she had in her wardrobe that she felt confident in. Your best friend can’t afford to come on your 4 day hen do. She still loves you but has a mortgage to pay and babies she doesn’t want to leave for so long. And to my colleagues, if someone appears unreasonable in their demands or questions your work integrity, be the bigger person. I only wish these people would consider the fact that everyone is fighting their own battles and you just never know what someone is going through. Forgive them for their behaviour and know they have to live with it, not you.
Things to try to help reduce your stress levels
I’ve listed below some techniques that I have been practising to help me cope with stressful situations. Try to do at least one of them when you are experiencing elevated stress levels. Whether you are wedding planning or dealing with the difficulties of every day life.
It really helps. Whether it be a friend, family member or professional such as a counsellor, try offloading onto them. Sometimes a different perspective is all you need to help you with a difficult decision or problem. Talking releases tension and helps you reflect, leaving you with a clearer head.
I try to go for a 20 minute walk every day. Anywhere. I make an excuse to put the glue gun down and get away from my desk and come back feeling much more able to cope. When under stress, worrying thoughts can escalate to the point where your head just hurts. By physically moving, you can help jig them round a bit and free up some space in your mind. It really works and if you don’t dawdle, you can burn off your lunch too…two birds -one stone!
I have always loved writing. Even now before I put my finished blog articles onto the laptop, I write down all my ideas in my notepad. There’s something relaxing about writing. You can commit to paper everything that’s causing you stress to get it out of your mind and allow you to sleep. It will again clear some precious head space so you can think more clearly.
I have recently been having Reiki sessions to help me relax. It’s all about balancing your inner energy so you feel overall much more stable. I don’t know how it’s done but I have the best night’s sleep every time following a session! Reflexology, massage and acupuncture have also been said to reduce stress. So when wedding planning or work related anxiety is taking over, book yourself in for a treat to help you feel calmer.
If anyone follows me on Instagram, you will know that I have recently discovered a love for gardening. I am obsessed with buying plants. Sometimes I spend our weekly food money on plants. It’s quite bad. Anyway, my point is, find something you like doing. It has been my saving grace when I’ve been at a loose end and found myself stuck in my own negative thoughts. If you’re wedding planning, make sure it’s totally non-wedding related. And if you’re struggling with work stress, try to find something that doesn’t involve what you do on a daily basis. And I’m the worst for saying ‘I don’t have time’ but I now make time and it really does make a difference.
Be it a hobby, household jobs, telephone calls to family and friends or going out for the day, distractions can be very beneficial. I like the saying: ‘An empty mind is the devil’s playground’. So keep busy when you have the energy and try to put the problem at hand in a box for a couple of hours.
So that’s my take on beating wedding – and work – related stress! They aren’t so different after all..:) I hope it offers some help to anyone struggling with something difficult in their life. If you are wedding planning, the reality is that the only thing you will care about after it is all over is who was there with you to share the day. And fellow colleagues – have faith in your business and the service you provide. Don’t be bullied by anyone in the industry playground. And always, always be kind.