Are You Stressed Planning Your Wedding?

11/22/2011 02:59 am ET | Updated Jan 21, 2012
  • Tammy Nelson, Ph.D. Sex and relationship expert; Psychotherapist; Author of The New Monogamy and Getting the Sex You Want; International speaker

Yes, it is stressful to plan one of the happiest days of your life. But you might be surprised at the reasons why. You might also be doing the wrong things to help yourself de-stress.

It is almost here -- the big day. You have been working hard to pull all the pieces together. Whether you are doing it alone, with family, friends or a wedding planner, you have a lot to do and probably feel like there is not enough time to finish it all.

You've been thinking about your wedding day for a long time (no pressure) and have a vision in your mind of how things are supposed to be. This is a one-time experience and you want to get it right. All this adds up to one intensely stressful experience.

Stress in and of itself is not a bad thing. In fact, stress can help you accomplish the virtually impossible task of seating 250 people in one room without having anyone's legs touch. Stress can motivate you to finish things, seek out new solutions and create expanded problem solving skills.

Stress can also bring you to your knees.

Laura, 29, was feeling the angst.

"It was a month away from my wedding and I got sick. The flu or something. I knew it was coming. The stress was overwhelming and I just kept going, trying to get it all done. Now I look back and think maybe it would have been better to put down the list and put my feet up. Then I wouldn't have had to walk down the aisle with a tissue up my nose"

Laura is describing a common misperception when it comes to stress. Like Laura, you probably have a "to do list" that helps you to stay organized and on task. And you probably think, like most women, that if you can finish everything on your "to do list" then you will no longer be stressed. The illusion is that when you finish the list you will be able to kick up your feet and finally let out that breath you've been holding for a year.

However, the 'list' is never done. There is always more stuff to add to the list (sorry to say this and stress you out).

In reality, what helps women to relax is not finishing off the list but increasing activities that help them to relax about the list. What decreases stress is to increase the self-care activities that tend to go to the bottom of the list most times. Self-care activities are things like getting a massage, getting your hair done or your nails manicured. These all produce Oxytocin; a chemical in the body which produces a feel good, relaxed sensation. With Oxytocin flowing, there is less stress about the list.

Other Oxytocin-producing activities include holding babies and hanging out with other women. Breastfeeding, orgasms and making love are also on that list. Oxytocin is the 'cuddle hormone' -- so find someone to hug, get a quick shoulder rub and try to worry less about the list. Most likely you will get through your to-do's before you say I-do, and you will feel less stressed when you get there.

Tammy Nelson, Ph.D. is a sex and relationship expert and the author of Getting the Sex You Want and the upcoming The New Monogamy. For more info go to