All Articles Tagged "stress"
Coping with stress is no easy task but somehow we all seem to get through the rough patches that are pretty much inevitable in life — some of us better than others. But when stress reaches an unmanageable level and becomes chronic, we become vulnerable to its damaging consequences, such as health problems and loss of productivity.
In the U.S. alone, stress affects more than 100 million Americans, which equates to nearly a third of the population. The leading sources of stress stem from money, followed by work, family and relationships. But there’s good news: Stress has had a general trending downward in the U.S., with average levels decreasing since 2007, according to the American Psychological Association.
Recently, WalletHub conducted a study to identify the cities where Americans cope with stress better than others. Using 50 cities across 27 key metrics and a data set ranging from average work hours to debt load to divorce and suicide rates, the findings are intriguing:
- Greensboro, N.C., has the lowest commuter stress index, 1.11, which is nearly 1.5 times lower than in Los Angeles, the city with the highest, 1.62.
- Fresno, Calif., has the most psychologists per 100,000 residents, 80.1, which is about 22 times more than in Baton Rouge, La., the city with the fewest, 3.7.
- Fremont, Calif., has the lowest divorce rate, 12.24 percent, which is about three times lower than in Cleveland, the city with the highest, 41.29 percent.
Below is a breakdown of the 10 most and least stressed cities. See how your city ranks.
Most Stressed Cities:
- Detroit, MI
- Mobile, AL
- Birmingham, AL
- Memphis, TN
- Cleveland, OH
- Shreveport, LA
- Columbus, GA
- New Orleans, LA
- Newark, NJ
- Montgomery, AL
Least Stressed Cities:
- San Diego, CA
- Sioux Falls, SD
- Overland Park, KS
- Plano, TX
- San Francisco, CA
- San Jose, CA
- Madison, WI
- Honolulu, HI
- Irvine, CA
- Fremont, CA
After President Obama’s PR perfect town hall meeting about race in America last Thursday, I was desperate to plan some distracting (and slightly drunken) weekend fun. In case you don’t have Twitter, woke friends or you’re living in the same land of delusion as Taylor Swift, the news cycle has been far more depressing than it’s been in a long time, especially for Black folks. In recent weeks, I’ve buried myself in the details of back-to-back shooting deaths of Black men and attacks on police officers without taking a real mental break. As a writer, it’s difficult to succeed without being in the know 24/7, but the rage and confusion I felt after watching President Obama and town hall goers gloss over the issue of policing in this country meant a mental vacation was mandatory for my sanity.
On any given day, with a few disparities based on socioeconomic status, African Americans are more likely to feel a sense of hopelessness and worthlessness when compared to White people. Then, imagine those same people constantly digesting the message that Blacks are disposable through the media every day. The mental pressure of both racism and feeling unsafe in your own environment causes higher-than-normal cortisol levels, which can lead to physical reactions like a weakened immune system and heart disease. It can even result in behavioral changes like overeating, heavy drinking and uncontrollable anger. And who wants to lose themselves because the world’s messed up? Nah.
The self-care you’d exercise to deal with everyday stress, like disconnecting from your work email and making a spa appointment, still applies in times of societal crisis. As the world seemingly unravels, find blocks of time to log off social media, hang out with friends (with your phone off) and create new, positive memories. Read something empowering like Sula by Toni Morrison and go to a boxing class (or just get active in general) to release built up anxiety. Or, take a boat ride around the Potomac River with friends like I did this past weekend. Just do anything to relax your mind and help reduce the negative effects of constant stress, and practice these coping methods often.
If you feel it’s selfish to ignore what’s happening in the world for 48 hours, you’re right. Petty people will assume things like the #KimExposedTaylorParty steal black folks’ attention away from “real issues,” but what they fail to realize is that many of us are begging for the mental relief that comes with celebrity clapbacks.
Truthfully, we all deserve some carefree moments. A few laughs with friends (and Twitter fam) far removed from the black hole of injustice is a welcomed psychological vacation. And we don’t owe anyone an apology for taking care of ourselves. Black death is traumatizing, and with the Trumps still trying to buy the White House, things aren’t necessarily looking optimistic out here. So, get your jokes off, ignore trolls and take care of yourself. I mean, you can’t help others unless you help yourself first, right?
Ahhh, summer vacation: a relaxing break from all of the hustle and bustle of the school year, right? Not so much, say most families. These days summer vacation seems to consist of less vacation and more activities designed to keep us busy and on-the-go at all times. But what are the effects of the never-ending packed schedule for both parents and children? Stress!
Michele Kambolis, renowned child and family therapist, speaker, and author of “Generation Stressed: Play-Based Tools to Help Your Child Overcome Anxiety” has seen a significant rise in young patients with severe anxiety and points out that parents are also more stressed than their peers. In the article below, she points to five simple ways parents can help their children actually unwind and recharge this summer, relieving them of anxiety-triggers and positioning them for their best, happiest, most successful school year yet.
Now is the time to tackle anxiety issues, before they develop into something deeper and more difficult to treat – and summer break is the perfect time to start.
With school doors closed for summer, parents are left wondering just how to make the most of this precious time. While some pack in sports camps and even summer tutoring, others question whether there should be any plan at all. You’ll easily find experts on both sides of the debate. There simply are no hard and fast rules when it comes to finding that summer balance, but finding ways to unwind and recharge top everyone’s list.
1. Leran about mindfulness
A life practice of mindful attention and reflection is hands-down the most powerful tool we have to cultivate a family ecosystem of well-being. It also helps kids relax. When we connect through active, open attention on the present and live mindfully, as a non-judgmental observer, we can access the separation, patience and expansive state of being that supports heart-centered parenting. It is the antidote to anxiety. All it requires is sitting and quieting the mind (which is much easier said than done!). Persuading children to sit in contemplation for any period of time can be a challenge. Here is one trick that might help. Invite kids to sit on an imaginary train. Tell them to close their eyes and turn their internal spotlight on the scenery going by. Notice that the scenery is full of images and thoughts about caring for others. Ask them to do a body scan and notice where in their body they sense feelings of love and kindness.
2. Get your hands dirty aka play
With overscheduling and over-focusing on technology, many children have lost the essential, brain-supporting work of play – and play is indeed their work. They are calling on us to show up from a playful, non-anxious and conscious state of being. There is joy in play; where there is joy, anxiety cannot exist. So get down and speak their native language, where toys are your words and play is your palette. If that’s too hard to authentically pull off, try de-stressing together with animal yoga, building a worry wall with sticky notes, or playing a board game.
3. Move to relax
Getting busy with our bodies is one of the most powerful buffers from the harmful impact of stress. Summer is a natural time to get a move on. The surge in feel-good neurochemicals not only boosts our immune system, it helps us to feel less stressed overall. Add the great outdoors to the mix and you will have doubled down on the benefits. Studies show we’re happier and more relaxed when we’re in natural environments than when we are indoors.
4. Find a furry friend
This is summer happiness homework most children will easily buy into: spend some time with a pet. One study by Dognition, an organization founded by Duke University researcher and cognitive scientist Brian Hare, found pet ownership to be strongly connected to increased well-being. Researchers found that the act of petting a dog decreases blood pressure and increases dopamine, prolactin and oxytocin, all hormones associated with happiness and bonding, as well as beta-endorphins, which are associated with relaxation and pain relief. Snuggling a furry friend causes a pleasure surge on a par with finding money, eating chocolate and looking at pictures of smiling babies.
5. Discover down time
Unstructured down time is one of the greatest gifts (and challenges) we can offer our kids over the summer. It’s when they discover new passions, talents and learn to structure and regulate themselves. Their imagination flourishes and relaxation comes naturally as they find their authentic voice, un-imposed by adult expectations and agendas. It’s a time when children can be in control, relax and maybe even uncover their dreams.
Summer can and should be a time of meaningful, mindful activity, and of repose and reflection. Finding that balance is the key to a summer that is not only restorative for both kids and parents, but provides long-lasting benefits into the new school year and beyond.
Michele Kambolis (MA) is a registered Child and Family Therapist and Parent Educator and a Registered Clinical Counselor dedicated to raising awareness about mental health issues. Kambolis writes a popular weekly parenting advice column, “Parent Traps” for The Vancouver Sun and Postmedia Network chain of newspapers. She is also the author of Generation Stressed: Play-Based Tools to Help Your Child Overcome Anxiety. Her website is michelekambolis.com
People have been telling you time and time again that you should try coloring. There is even a coloring book for naturalistas to get you into the idea. And yet, you still haven’t bought yourself a coloring book and a fancy pack of colored pencils. But if you are constantly out here telling people how stressed you are and don’t know what to do about it, you really need to rethink your stance on adult coloring books. According to a new study, “art therapy” reduces stress levels to an amount that we’ve been underestimating.
Researchers at Drexel’s College of Nursing and Health Professions conducted a study for the publication Art Therapy called “Reduction of Cortisol Levels and Participants’ Responses Following Art Making.” They used “biomarkers” to measure stress levels, specifically the hormone cortisol through saliva samples taken from 39 adults between the ages of 18 and 59. These individuals were asked to take part in a 45-minute “art-making period,” and during such time, their cortisol levels were checked before and after.
There were options to color, of course, but also clay and collage materials. Study participants were told to use the materials as they pleased. And while just under half of participants stated that their art experience was limited, researchers found that the cortisol levels of 75 percent of the 39 adults lowered, some substantially. According to the firsthand testimony of one of the participants, “It was very relaxing. After about five minutes, I felt less anxious. I was able to obsess less about things that I had not done or need [ed] to get done. Doing art allowed me to put things into perspective.”
Researchers also found that about 25 percent of participants ended up with increased cortisol levels. But Girija Kaimal, EdD, who is an assistant professor of creative art therapies told the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s EurekAlert! that it doesn’t mean they were more stressed after art therapy.
“Some amount of cortisol is essential for functioning,” Kaimal said. “For example, our cortisol levels vary throughout the day — levels are highest in the morning because that gives us an energy boost to [sic] us going at the start of the day. It could’ve been that the art-making resulted in a state of arousal and/or engagement in the study’s participants.”
They also noted a small correlation between the age of participants and the outcome of their cortisol levels. Younger individuals had consistently lower cortisol levels after the 45-minute session. Kaimal pointed out that art could be the perfect remedy for stress for this group of individuals.
“I think one reason might be that younger people are developmentally still figuring out ways to deal with stress and challenges, while older individuals — just from having lived life and being older — might have more strategies to problem-solve and manage stress more effectively,” she said.
And this way of dealing with stress definitely sounds effective, as according to Nielsen, despite only one million copies of adult coloring books being sold in 2014, a whopping 12 million were purchased in 2015. More than 2,000 were published last year, as opposed to just 300 in 2014. And, as we all know, lower cortisol levels mean lower fat levels, and that’s good for the body.
Whatever your artistic background, five great options for folks looking to get into coloring include Color My Fro: A Natural Hair Coloring Book for Big Hair Lovers of All Ages, I Love My Hair: A Coloring Book of Braids, Coils and Doodle Dos, Calm the F–k Down: An Irreverent Adult Coloring Book, Color the 90’s: The Ultimate 90’s Coloring Book for Adults, and Mom Life: A Snarky Adult Coloring Book. Thank us later, sis.
Stress is never pleasant. Well, until now apparently.
A new study published in Frontiers In Aging Neuroscience claims that all of the stress we endure on a day-to-day basis is actually good for us in the long run. Feel free to give us the side eye because we’re honestly doing the same.
According to the report, people who juggle stressful and busy lifestyles tend to have a better memory in several different ways. To test their hypothesis of engagement in mentally challenging activities has been shown to improve memory, they examined the relationship between busyness and cognition in 330 adult participants from the Dallas Lifespan Brain Study (DLBS) aged 50–89.
They ended up coming to the conclusion that stress improves memory of recent or recently learned things. Second, those that are better at remembering specific events or memories in the past more than likely have busy, stressful schedules. So, overall, it’s safe to encourage people to maintain active, busy lifestyles throughout middle and late adulthood. However, when it comes to stress, it still probably holds true that the less the better.
It’s no secret that many people can’t seem to operate without their phones. I’ve known people who traveled almost all the way to work and turned right back around to go get the phone they left at home. But as it turns out, our attachments to our phones these days is so great, we literally get stressed all the way out when we realize that they’re on their way to zero percent.
Electronics company LG recently did a survey while promoting their latest smartphone, the LG G5, which features a removable battery that can be swapped out for a fresh one when it’s getting low. They surveyed thousands of Americans and found that nine out of 10 people, that’s 90 percent, end up in a state of panic when they see that they have a low phone battery. Specifically, when their phone alerts them that they’re below 20 percent. According to LG, the ways smartphone users said they try to deal with such struggles, as well as the consequences (which they deemed “symptoms” of low battery anxiety), include asking a stranger to bum their charger off of them (39 percent of people); grabbing a drink or buying some sort of item at a bar or restaurant just to use an outlet (22 percent of people); so-called “borrowing” of someone’s charger that they see available (35 percent of people); skipping the gym to go home to charge a dying phone (33 percent), and then arguing with a significant other over the fact that they missed a bevvy of text messages (23 percent of people).
As for Millennials, 42 percent said they would totally skip out on a workout to charge their phone. Sixty-one percent said they will turn off their smartphone to prolong the battery life while 50 percent said they would hold off on taking photos to keep their phone alive. Oh, and 62 percent of Millennials said they won’t mess with social media if it means they can get a few extra hours of battery life in.
Other interesting findings from the survey included that 71 percent of everyday smartphone users will not share their backup charger or battery with others due to a fear that it won’t be available when they need it. About 41 percent of smartphone users said they have three or more chargers. Sixty-percent admitted to using someone else’s phone to place a call or send a message when their phone hit zero. And 32 percent of users said that they will make a u-turn back home to charge a dying phone.
If you know any people like this, gift them (or yourself if you’re guilty) with a portable charger, tell them to turn down their brightness, explain to them that power save mode is their friend and remember, when the going gets really tough, you can’t beat airplane mode.
How much sleep do you get each night, on average?
While most of us would love to get a lot more, we are busy. We have work commitments, family and relationship responsibilities, and the duty to carve out time for ourselves to do the things we want and need to for ourselves. But as we established when talking about stress yesterday, a lack of sleep plays a big part in stressing us out, which, can in turn, up our risk for all sorts of illnesses, mental and physical. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-quarter of people in this country report occasionally not getting enough sleep. And insomnia? It’s no joke either, as 10 percent of people report experiencing it.
As annoying as it is for everyone to tell you to “get more sleep,” as though it’s the easiest thing in the world to make happen, you truly need to make your rest a priority. Not only to keep yourself healthy but to avoid hurting others as well (a lack of sleep is the reason behind many car accidents and “machinery-related crashes” each year). Not to mention that getting more sleep helps with skin issues, weight problems, overall happiness and more.
So how much sleep is optimal? Well, the sleep number hasn’t changed, despite our busy schedules doing all the changing.
“Eight hours is still the healthy amount of sleep needed to restore the body,” said Prudence Hall, MD, of The Hall Center in Santa Monica, California. “The busier a person is, the more important sleep becomes. We spend our energy during the day and restore it during sleep. Sleep is when the body detoxifies itself and the endocrine glands rebalance.”
But some of us truly can’t get to sleep. Insomnia, the sleep disorder that is characterized by problems getting sleep and staying asleep, as previously stated, is an issue for many people. For men, low testosterone is often a cause of insomnia. For women, it could be a range of things.
“Insomnia is due to three major categories: hormonal deficiencies, our thoughts and emotions, and structural physical problems, “Hall said. “The hormonal deficiencies causing insomnia are low estrogen from the birth control pill, perimenopause, and menopause. When our adrenal glands are depleted or imbalanced due to stress, insomnia is also a common symptom. Drinking alcohol at night also causes insomnia, as do many antidepressants and medications.”
And on top of menopause, your menstrual cycle can also greatly impact your sleep patterns. So when you struggle to get some sleep around the time of your period, you now know why.
“Right before a woman’s period, her estrogen levels fall causing insomnia,” Hall said. “Insomnia due to low estrogen is intensified as a woman goes into menopause. In fact, one of the classic symptoms of menopause is awakening around 2 or 3 a.m. and not being able to go back to sleep.”
And you can’t talk about sleep disorders without talking about sleep apnea. Looked at as a so-called “man’s disease,” women certainly don’t deal with it as much as men, but quite a few women have it. A recent study of 400 women among the ages of 20-70 found that a whopping 50 percent of those who took part in the research were found to have some degree of sleep apnea. Twenty percent had moderate sleep apnea while six percent had a severe form.
“Sleep apnea is one-third less common in women than men, but is still a common cause of insomnia,” Hall stated. “Low estrogen in menopause or perimenopause can lead to loss of muscle tone in the neck and soft pallet, causing sleep apnea.”
When speaking on treatment, Hall said that options for sleep apnea include “losing weight, avoiding alcohol, quitting smoking, replacing your deficient hormones with bioidentical hormones, exercise, and a C-pap machine.”
For the most part, if we’re honest, I’m sure we could all say that we stay up later than we should on a regular basis not because we’re swamped with work or personal projects, but because we choose to stay up and be entertained by whatever (or whomever) tickles our fancy. Still, in many other cases, some of us just can’t get to sleep, or get a good night’s rest, which could be a sign that you have a sleep disorder. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a recommended treatment for such problems, and sleeping pills are another option, though there are possible side effects and risks that come with them. But whatever you do, don’t just sit back and let the hours and sleep pass you by. We assume we can live without much sleep, but really, without it, we could be slowly taking ourselves out.
Everyone says they’re stressed. But how many of us are really, really stressed to the point that it’s affecting our health, physically and mentally? Unfortunately, it’s actually more people than you would think. According to the American Institute of Stress and MastersDegreeOnline.org, 44 percent of Americans say they feel more stressed than they did five years ago, and one in five say they deal with “extreme stress.” So outside of the uncomfortable tension, they’re also battling with heart palpitations, shaking fits, and, of course, depression. And stress raises the risk of heart disease to 40 percent. The risk of stroke? Fifty percent.
What is going on?
Well, we’re doing too much for one.
“In a society that glorifies hard work and multitasking, we all are susceptible to being overworked and burned out,” said Kathleen Isaac, MPhil, a doctoral candidate in clinical psychology. “The danger of pushing ourselves too much is that we put ourselves at risk for adverse health conditions related to stress. In addition, we also put ourselves at risk for other mental health conditions related to stress such as depression and anxiety. We may also see a decrease in our ability to function at our best ability at work, school, etc., and this may take a toll on our work as well as our personal life.”
When we take more on our plate than we can actually handle, we are setting ourselves up to be overwhelmed to the point that it’s harmful to our well-being. And while we all often feel weary about our wealth of responsibilities, Isaac said that you know things are going too far when it starts to impact your body. A headache is one thing, but stress can manifest itself in even more debilitating ways.
“While most people are aware of increased worrying and tension headaches as indicators of stress, there are a number of physical symptoms that one can experience when stressed,” Isaac said. She cited “muscle aches or tension, stomach pain, low energy, chest pain, insomnia, frequent colds or infections and loss of sexual desire or ability” as physical effects caused by our daily anxieties. “Stress can also lead to weight gain because of increased cortisol levels, and certain behaviors associated with stress such as overeating, drinking, and poor sleep may put you at risk for conditions like hypertension and diabetes. It is, therefore, important to pay attention to your body. If you notice that you aren’t functioning as well as you used to, check in with yourself and with your doctor and seek counseling if needed.”
However, some levels of stress we can’t really control in the ways people think. Like the distress we might have to deal with at our place of work or our neighborhoods, specifically for women of color operating in places and spaces where there aren’t many who look and think like us. Different forms of discrimination pop up in minute and major ways, and they can drive people both ill and over the edge.
Isaac expounded upon this reality by confirming that racism and bigotry have long been associated with stressors faced by minority populations, as well as other physical and mental issues, both in the workplace and in everyday life.
“African Americans who experience both overt and covert discrimination (i.e. microaggressions) in their daily lives may be susceptible to higher levels of stress. The actual levels of stress will vary, however, depending on individual factors such as sensitivity to racism (how aware one is of being discriminated against) and coping style. Recently there has been some consideration of the impact that the growing visibility of racist acts in the media may have on stress levels.”
So what can we actually do about our levels of stress, aside from cranking A Tribe Called Quest’s “Stressed Out” and wearing our anguish and exhaustion as a badge of “I work hard and I’m a strong Black woman” honor? According to the CDC, it’s important that we channel our stress into healthy activities and habits, and also, be open about our feelings and issues with people who can hear us out, support us, and help us put things into perspective. That includes exercising regularly and eating better, getting as much sleep as we can, talking to loved ones, as well as a counselor, doctor or even a pastor when it all becomes too much, and most importantly, knowing when it’s time to take a break. We all need timeouts here and there from the things and people who messing with our psyche and sense of inner peace.
Granted, these things won’t end stress in your life for all time, but rather, alleviate it. Still, listening to your body and knowing when you’re bearing burdens alone that are starting to wear on you is important. The sooner we pay attention and do something about it, the better we can be to the people who rely on us, and most importantly, to ourselves.
Is it just me, or does it seem like we blame everything on stress? Sure, stress is the culprit when it comes to many of our challenges in life, but I really can’t agree with stress being the only culprit.
I do agree that our ability to manage the stress in our lives is incredibly important, and mismanaging stress can lead to a host of other issues like overeating, poor sleep, and even changes in mood to name a few. But as women, and especially as moms, we have to remember that what’s going on with our bodies and minds is not always stress-related. Sometimes there are other issues at play.
Many medical issues can mimic the symptoms of stress, and since mothers tend to be juggling a lot anyway, we do run the risk of writing something off as stress-related when we really should be visiting our physician for evaluation and possible testing.
So how do we know when it’s just stress and when it’s something deeper? The truth is, we don’t always know. That’s why we need to seek professional help so we can figure out what’s really going on. In addition to seeking the opinion of a medical professional, we must pay attention to our gut. Don’t ignore that feeling you have that tells you something is just off. Is it possible your gut is wrong? Sure, it’s possible. Is it likely, though? Not really because no one knows your body as well as you do.
Here are seven common symptoms that may be more than stress. If these symptoms are present in your life and they have been ongoing (or you just have that funny feeling that something is wrong), please seek medical help. Although I am in no position to offer medical advice, I feel pretty comfortable urging you to get help if you think something may be wrong.
It’s not uncommon for people under a great deal of stress to have sleep issues. Insomnia, oversleeping, and unrestful sleep are common complaints. However, if your sleep issues linger, you should consider the possibility that you actually have a sleep disorder or some other medical problem that may be disturbing your normal sleeping pattern.
Weight Gain or Loss
I am an emotional eater, so I know that being stressed out can lead to indulging a bit too much. But if your eating and exercise habits haven’t changed and you find that you are gaining or losing weight at a rate that’s unusual for you, seek medical attention. Several medical conditions can cause a sudden fluctuation in weight.
What busy mom isn’t tired? I know I sure am. And although being extra tired when your stress levels are high is pretty normal, feeling drained and having an overwhelming sense of fatigue may be signs that something deeper is going on. Being exhausted all the time should not be your norm.
When under a lot of stress it’s normal to get irritated easily or even feel frustrated or anxious. But when your mood swings become very evident to the ones you love, and it starts to impact your relationships, consider the possibility that it’s more than just stress. Could you be suffering from depression? Is it possibly you have an anxiety disorder? Explore all possibilities if you or the people you love feel like something may be wrong.
An upset stomach, constipation, nausea, and diarrhea can all be triggered by stress. That said, chronic stomach issues should not be ignored. There are several gastrointestinal conditions that can show these exact same symptoms. If your stomach issues are ongoing you should visit your physician.
Loss of Sexual Desire
What mom hasn’t been just too tired to have sex? But being too tired to have sex sometimes is different from never wanting to have sex because you absolutely have no interest in it at all. If you feel like you have lost your sexual desire, stress may not be the culprit. Talk to your doctor to explore other possibilities.
Frequent Colds & Infections
It is true that chronic stress can lower your immunity and make you susceptible to frequent illness, but lowered immunity can also be a sign that a larger issue is at play. If you are becoming ill far more frequently than you ever have before, consider the possibility that a vitamin deficiency or underlying condition may be causing it and seek medical attention.
Martine Foreman is a freelance writer, lifestyle blogger, speaker and coach. To follow her journey as a busy mom, wife, and honest chick from Brooklyn, NY (now living in the burbs), check her out at CandidBelle.
Ladies, if you are preparing to plan for a wedding, know this: There is no way to keep things “small.” You know why? Because your family members just won’t allow that to happen.
There are some relatives, and soon-to-be relatives, who I’m very thankful for in this whole wedding planning process. They’ve proactively offered their services, they’ve bought different items for the wedding for me without me asking them to pitch in, and they keep me sane through what is an honestly turbulent time. You don’t know how bad I just want to get to the wedding date and move on with my life already.
But then there are the relatives and loved ones who make things all the more stressful, specifically when it comes to guest lists. As Jazmine Rogers and I discussed earlier this morning, despite a determined and agreed upon guest count, there are relatives who will corner you at Sunday dinner asking if you’ll make room at a table at your reception for cousins you’re not necessarily close to. Friends who will ask if they can have a plus-one because they “should” have a new lover by the time your wedding date rolls around. Or the parent who is asking for a block of guests so that they can make a big show of your big day to friends.
What’s really going on with people?
My reception venue can hold 130 people sitting. But at this point, with all the requests and the children and the friends and friends of friends who think they’re owed an invite to the reception because they are helping out in some form for the traditional wedding my father is putting on (which takes place the day before the wedding and reception), I had to reach out to the venue’s manager to ensure we wouldn’t be charged for exceeding 130. I also had to start asking some guests if they were really serious about coming so I could know how to proceed. And considering that we want there to be enough room for people to sit, I can’t imagine a reception where one group of people is sitting and eating and having a good time, and others are left standing around and feeling like an afterthought because there was no room for them in the first place.
Who knows? Maybe when we send out invitations there will be people who decide they can’t make it, and in those cases, maybe seats will be freed up and my worries will be alleviated. Or maybe most people will RSVP and we’ll be forced to lessen our dance floor space and spend more money to come up with extra seats. The unknown of what is to come, and how my wedding day will play out, is at this point driving me bananas.
When I think of it all, I just don’t believe there’s an understanding of the importance of there being limits when it comes to families of the bride and groom. Sure, people tell you “This day is about you!” and “Don’t worry, be happy.” “This day is for your and your fiancé! Do whatever pleases you and don’t worry about anyone else!” But it’s those same people who often provide a lot of the opposition and stress. The ones who disagree with a certain style of dress that you want to wear during your reception. Who hassle you about making sure things are as convenient as possible for out-of-town guests. Who confront people close to you about wanting a role in planning so they don’t feel left out, despite you saying you don’t need any more “help.” And who want to invite their boyfriend, their childhood friend, their cousin, hairdresser and five kids because they would all just love to see you tie the knot, despite the fact that none of those people have spoken to you in Lord knows how long.
As my wedding date looms closer, there are so many loose ends to tie up. I don’t know why, but in my heart of hearts, I was hoping that the guest list would be a simple thing that we could knock out and move on from. But the reality is when you’re dealing with people who want to feel more important than you and your groom on your wedding day, things are rarely ever simple.