Photo by Dan Saelinger
Snacking up a storm? Can't focus to save your life? Don't worry, you aren't going cuckoo—you just have an acute case of bridal brain. Months of stress, detail-wrangling, and heightened emotions can temporarily change your brain's biochemistry, leaving you distracted, indecisive, and irritable. Here are some common symptoms and how to deal cope with them:
YOU CAN'T DECIDE ON A DRESS
WHY Your brain is able to process seven new options at a time (give or take). So when you're faced with an infinite number of necklines, you're on a one-way road to Indecisionville.
WHAT TO DO Find ways to reduce your options: Tear photos of gowns you like from magazines, and make mental notes of styles you dislike. That way, you can give salon staff some direction so you'll all focus on your best options.
YOU'RE BEAT, BUT YOU CAN'T SLEEP
WHY If, each time you lie down, you envision a big-day disaster, you're going to feel fearful and anxious, which elevates stress levels. The result? An increase in glucocorticoid, a stress hormone that can curtail sleep. And the less sleep you get, the more glucocorticoid you produce.
WHAT TO DO Get into the zzzone by scheduling exercise in the a.m. Evening gym visits can tamper with your sleep, inhibiting the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates the sleep cycle. Meditating before bed also primes you for snoozing; deep breathing relaxes the body and the mind. Another insomnia buster? Sex. Orgasms release oxytocin, a hormone that sends you to la-la land pronto.
YOU HAVE THE ATTENTION SPAN OF A FRUIT FLY
WHY Your brain gets overloaded when you jump from detail to detail, and information flies around, causing your circuit to overload. This can leave you feeling unfocused and impatient. Stress also contributes by increasing the production of cortisol, a hormone that affects the brain's memory center.
WHAT TO DO Take regular breaks, and enlist pals' help with your to-do list. Stay alert by feeding your brain with low-glycemic foods, like nuts, yogurt, and fresh fruit, which provide a slow, steady supply of sugar molecules. Another attention booster: omega-3 fats (fish oil is a good source), which help produce myelin.
YOU CAN'T STOP EATING CUPCAKES
WHY Reason one: Stress makes you eat by stoking your appetite. Reason two: Your brain is trying to self-medicate by making you crave sugar and carbs, which cause the release of mood-boosting serotonin.
WHAT TO DO Instead of making a bakery run, plug into your favorite tunes. You'll start thinking, I've heard this before, and it's good, so you'll start to produce the feel-good chemical. Still can't put down that fork? Try this trick: Use a smaller plate when you eat—you may fool your brain into thinking you're having a larger portion and feel more sated.
YOUR SEX DRIVE IS STUCK IN PARK
WHY All that wedding anxiety activates the amygdala, the teeny part of your brain that processes fear. But here's the rub: In order for you to have an orgasm and enjoy sex to the fullest, your amygdala has to be turned way, way down.
WHAT TO DO Deal with your freak-outs by writing your worries down. Just jotting down your concerns on paper will remove the job from your cortex's "to-do" list. Make sure you put pen to paper long before you hit the sheets—you want to give your amygdala plenty of time to register that it's off-duty before the hanky-panky begins.