Image from real wedding by Ben Blood Photo
The internet is awash with advice on how to relax – and while all of it’s useful, it may not exactly do what it says on the tin. Do you actually know anyone who takes five minutes out of their day to “breathe deeply”, or “reach their inner happiness”? Ok, we know two brides who meditate, and another who does yoga. But what about the rest of us?
Here’s your answer – most of us relax best by doing an activity that we find satisfying. These range from washing the car and painting the hallway, to watching a movie in our jammies and going for a walk. If you haven’t found yours yet – here’s our fail-safe list of the most productive activities guaranteed to make you feel better – all you need to do is find the one or two that suit you the most. The only thing you absolutely must do is make it a wedding-free time. Absolutely no wedding talk allowed. This is for you and you only.
Hardcore housework – painting walls, scrubbing the bathroom, moving furniture, de-cluttering, spring cleaning (it’ll be here before you know it)! Cleaning isn’t meant to be fun, it’s much more of a chore really, and something we’re forced to do if we want the house to look presentable. But the act itself and reviewing the results afterwards is one of the most therapeutic and relaxing things you can do. What’s more, it really works when you’re angry about something – apply that anger to the bathroom and in a short time it’ll look like it’s had a renovation! And it burns calories to boot – the excellent website myfitnesspal.com tells us that 60 minutes of heavy, vigorous cleaning burns as many as 175 calories!
Try it when you’re tense, irritated, annoyed, or you feel like you’re close to running off to Vegas – get those gloves on, plug in the vacuum, chuck all that clutter, and when you’re done you’ll feel miles better AND you’ll have fantastic results to show for it!
Jogging – all you need is the right shoes and clothes. Forget all those sleek lycra outfits you see in running adverts, you don’t need them – wear your regular track pants, long-sleeved top, gloves, scarf and hat. If you’re going to the gym, make that pants and top (you may get funny looks if you wear the rest…) Don’t be embarrassed, you aren’t training for the Olympics – you’re doing it for you and you only. Just get out there, walk briskly for five minutes, then lightly jog on until you feel you want to stop. Walk again, jog again. When you feel better, go home. Or, if you want more structure and to get the maximum benefits, check out the amazing Couch To 5 K program, sponsored by the NHS and available to download for free.
Everyone knows the benefits of exercise, but here’s how it helps you relax – it gets you out of the house and into fresh air, redirects that negative energy into something positive, and when you’re done you’ll actually feel like you have more energy, not less. Trust us, a light jog does wonders. Go with your hubby-to-be, sister, or friend for company if you want some support – but no wedding talk allowed.
Image from Shelly and Johnny’s real wedding
Baking – combines the creative with the productive, and you don’t need a reason to do it – if nobody at home is in the mood for a cake, take it to the office tomorrow where it’ll get gobbled up in no time. It really doesn’t matter if you can’t bake. As long as you have the ingredients, there are so many easy recipes out there, you just can’t go wrong. Like this recipe for Never-Fail Victoria Sponge from WikiHow – anyone can do it. And every cake in the world looks amazing with chopped strawberries and some icing sugar on top.
Measuring, mixing, whipping, tasting etc. helps you get your mind off stressful thoughts and into something far more interesting and creative. Once your cake is in the oven and starts to rise, the smell will be so heavenly, you won’t believe how proud you’ll feel, it’s an instant pick-me-up. And of course, you get to eat it afterwards!
Honeymoon research – is everything booked and you know where you’re going? You lucky girl! Set aside just half an hour, three times a week, to browse the internet looking for every kind of info you can find on your destination. We don’t mean visiting travel agents’ websites – we mean looking on Flickr, YouTube, travel blogs, information and tips from the locals, anything out of the ordinary that will make you so excited, you just can’t wait to go. Photos, recommendations and stories from people who have actually been there are absolutely invaluable.
This is relaxing because you’re doing something productive while increasing your happiness levels – think of the excitement of going on holiday, but quadrupled. When you do this regularly, it will be a thrice-weekly dose of happiness you can count on every time. Better yet, start a folder on your computer, or a new board on Pinterest dedicated to your honeymoon stuff. Come back to it any time to recharge and relax.
Sleep – is sleep an activity? You bet! And a most pleasant one too. As with exercise, the benefits of sleep are scientifically numerous. We want you to look at sleep as a relaxation technique – more like sleeping with a purpose. After a good night’s sleep, your mind is clear and capable of giving you answers and solutions you haven’t thought about before. The same happens after a short nap, it’s a refreshing boost of new energy. Here’s what we want you to try for at least a week – an hour before your normal sleep time, get ready for bed and into your jammies. Get into bed. You can do anything during this hour, including surf the net, read a book etc. The greatthing about it is you’re in bed so you’re starting to unwind. If something is troubling you, write it down somewhere, and set aside. Don’t do anything wedding-related, just concentrate on enjoying being in bed an hour early. Lights off when you’re ready. Repeat the next day. Oh and don’t eat cheese before bedtime – you’ll have funny dreams (fact!)
An extra hour of that time reserved especially for you will help you sleep much better – you just can underestimate the comforts of bed. You’ll likely start falling asleep earlier too, because you’ll get into the rhythm of being ready for it… and you know how much better you feel and look when you’re properly rested. You’ll start feeling the difference after just two or three nights, and try to keep this new routine going for as long as you can – you’ll be ready to take on that wedding with the same energy you felt when you first started in no time!
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If you think the bride should always have the last word, then Rachel is on your side! A devoted fan of everything quirky, unusual, colourful or crafty, she loves scouting WOL's real weddings for unique and fun touches. When not gazing at pictures, she's dispensing no-nonsense advice on everything from reception entrance songs to bridesmaid problems.