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It's the week before your wedding. You're still sorting out seat assignments and responding to guests' inane questions. ("Yes, Aunt Jeanne, you should probably rent a car," you write back nicely, omitting the urge to mention that every wedding correspondence you've sent to guests includes this recommendation.)
Hate to add to the stress but here goes: It's not inconceivable that your health might be next on the wedding hit list.
"I broke out into full body hives three weeks before our wedding, on the day I moved in with my fiancé," Ann, a Missouri bride says. "I'm not an allergic person. Maybe it was my Catholic guilt?"
Ann had taken care of most of the wedding details and was excited for her big day, but the hives didn't go away. "It took my dermatologist a solid ten minutes to convince me that the hives were stressed-induced."
On her wedding day, Ann took two Benadryl before walking down the aisle — and her hives haven't come back since.
Welcome to the frustrating reality of stress-induced health problems. From breakouts to hair loss to the flu and thrown out backs, stress can cause a lot of unexpected issues. When you're seriously stressed out, your chances of getting sick go up. Stress can pulverize your immune and digestive systems, causing all kinds of nasty headaches, flu-like symptoms and stomach problems. And the lack of sleep that comes in the pre-wedding days certainly doesn't help. The American Academy of Dermatology also warns that stress can cause hair, skin and nail problems.
The American Psychological Association explains that when you have a sudden onset of stress, your muscles tense up all at once. Only after the stress passes — say, after you walk down the aisle and give up on worrying about things — do your muscles release tension.
Beth, a bride from Texas, was a "glowing" bride on her day. But her own mother wasn't so lucky when she wed in 1973. She got a stomach virus. While she was able to walk down the aisle, her honeymoon was canceled. "They spent what was to be their honeymoon at her parents' house in San Antonio," Beth explains about her parents' wedding.
And it's not just brides feeling the effects of wedding planning — mothers of the bride do too. "My mom started losing hair in clumps two weeks before," Colombian bride Carolina says, "and had to change her hairstyle to hide the bald spots!" Post-wedding the hair came back.
So what's your best bet in avoiding stress-related health (and beauty!) havoc? Sleep. Exercise. Do some yoga. Hop on the phone with good friends and talk through your feelings. Take a breather and magically your skin will clear up, your cough will go away and your hair will return to normal.