Nerves and stress have been given bad names by the media and are commonly seen as public enemy number one when it comes to people's enjoyment and fulfilment. What people forget is that a reasonable amount of nervousness, and a good squirt of stress hormones pumping around your body, help prepare you for any challenging activity you are about to undertake.
Remember the old 'fight or flight' gag? Well, although your wedding may not have many similarities with the approach of a hungry lion, no one has got around to informing our hormonal system about it yet. Consequently our reaction to the impending stress of the wedding is, chemically at least, just the same as it would be on sight of that hungry lion: a surge of stress hormones.
And why do we have this surge of stress hormones? To get us right up on our toes so we think, act and move as effectively as possible ... whether it is either to kill or run away from the lion (fight or flight) or walk down that aisle and get up to make that wedding speech.
Mind you, in the days when we lived in caves and had serious problems with four-legged predators, the stress hormones released on an impromptu encounter with a lion would be more than used up by our efforts to strangle the beast or run like hell in the opposite direction.
Much as pre-wedding worries can seem as frightening as a peckish lion the reality is that in the run-up to our wedding we don't use up as much of that hormonal energy as we produce. Anyway, the net result is that the leftover stress hormones hang around inside us and create symptoms such as sleeplessness, irritability, headaches, and all manner of other unpleasant effects.
What to do about it
Don't worry about it. It's perfectly normal that you should feel nervous and stressed about your wedding. It would be very strange, abnormal, and frankly rather worrying if you didn't feel a bit nervous and stressed about your wedding. To combat the effects of stress on your body you need to start planning for it as soon as possible after you get engaged. Despite there being pressure on you to run around taking on extra duties over and above your work and your domestics, now more than ever it's crucial that you take time out to look after yourself properly.
Eat healthily and make sure you keep exercising in whatever way you normally do. Don't succumb to an increase in smoking, drinking, or use of recreational substances because although those may seem to calm you down and relax you short term, they'll make life more difficult for you over time.
Most important of all, in my opinion, is to look after your sanity. Set some time aside to go out with your girlfriends and forget all about the wedding for a night ... have a romantic dinner with your fiance at which you both promise not to mention wedding plans ... book yourself in for that facial and massage you've been promising yourself ... take a weekend off to go hiking or mountain biking or pony trekking or sight-seeing ... keep reminding yourself that you and your fiance have a life, as well as a wedding, to plan.
If you have trouble sleeping, read up on ways to sleep better and then activate those rigorously. Avoid chemical sleep remedies as they nearly all stop working after a few days, and some leave you feeling drowsy the next day. There are several herbal remedies that can help not only with sleep, but also to calm your nerves; the staff at your local health food store will be able to advise you on the best choices. You can also look for such remedies on the internet, but you have no guarantee of quality, unless you buy from well known brands like Holland & Barrett.
Plan ahead for it
No matter what you do to reduce the effects of stress, you're still likely to be nervous on the day, and all being well some of that nervousness will help keep you on your toes.
However it does make sense to allow in a personalised way for the fact that you will be a bit stressed and nervous.
Think back to a previous occasion when you were nervous and under pressure. How did that nervousness manifest itself? Did it make you clumsy? Did it make you run late and get behind schedule? Did it make you forget things? Did it make you snappy with others?Analyse carefully how that stress is likely to affect your behaviour on your wedding day and prepare for it, even if it means not operating machines or electrical appliances yourself (clumsy), allowing double the time you think you need for every key activity (running late), writing out a clear 'to do' list for your hair, make-up, getting ready, etc (forgetful) and reminding yourself to think before you shout (snappy!).