How to Stop Stress From Ruining Your Good Times

couple feeling happy instead of stressed

A wedding? Congrats! Baby on the way? Yay! Finally taking that dream trip to Australia? Woo-hoo! These are all lovely, wonderful things, for sure. But let's face it: Even good things are freaking stressful.


"Happy times can be stressful because perfectionistic tendencies tend to arise," explains Elizabeth Lombardo, PhD, a clinical psychologist and author of Better Than Perfect: 7 Steps to Crush Your Inner Critic and Create a Life You Love. "Wanting the perfect wedding, home, or baby experience can cause stress because events do not always go perfectly, or as expected."

Of course, you want to make lovely memories. But the pissy attitude, borderline OCD habits, and bouts of insomnia/binge-eating Doritos ain't gonna help.

Here's what you can do to ease up on the stress and allow yourself to truly enjoy the next milestone you hit:

1. Expect some bumps in the road. Let's be realistic: Things come up. Cars get flat tires on the way to the airport, bridesmaids oversleep, babies have colic. It may not be the vision of perfection that you wanted, but "it still can be a great experience," says Lombardo. "Deviation from your plan doesn't mean catastrophe." Instead of being a complainer, flex your problem-solving skills instead.

2. Focus on gratitude. "Gratitude counters activity in the stress center of the brain," Lombardo notes. "Focus on what you appreciate instead of what is not going the way you want."

3. Proactively address your stress. Up your yoga intake. Go for a bike ride. Watch Bridesmaids for the umpteenth time. And remember, "if 20 minutes of meditation seems impossible," says Lombardo, "try five deep breaths."

4. Take care of your body. When you're in the midst of a whirlwind, you'll probably get less sleep or eat like crap. Um, don't. "Fatigue and hunger can cause greater stress," Lombardo warns.

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5. Ask for help. "Friends and family want to help you during this exciting time," points out Lombardo. So go ahead and LET them already.

6. Remember the big picture. Maybe your home closing got pushed back a week. Or your best pal has strep and can't make it to your big birthday fete. Sucks, but "keep the big picture in mind, rather than getting stressed out over the little details," Lombardo advises.

7. Stay connected. Don't get soooo caught up in the logistics of your Big Thing that you ignore or overlook the people around you. "Strong social ties can buffer stress in general and help you feel more connected during this event," says Lombardo.

8. Find a mantra. "Your thoughts cause -- or prevent -- stress," points out Lombardo. Bottom line: You better get a damn good mantra ready to counteract the negative chatter that's bound to go off in your head. (And no, "I hate my life!" or "Why is everyone so stupid!" does NOT count.)

"Thinking, 'I can do this' or 'I choose to focus on gratitude' can help decrease stress and help you be more mindful of the positivity of the experience," Lombardo says.


Image via Kzenon/Shutterstock

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