When your future mother-in-law surprises you with a list of last-minute guest list additions, your officiant drops out, and your wedding dress needs yet another fitting, it's understandable if the pre-wedding stress has you feeling short of breath. We've all been there. It's honestly hard to remember to breathe in, breathe out with a million wedding details racing through your head—but it's oh-so important if you don't want to feel overwhelmed as your big day approaches. Thankfully, there are some helpful breathing exercises brides can try when the pre-wedding stress hits. And breathing expert Poppy Jamie is here to break them down!
Poppy Jamie didn’t learn how to breathe properly until she was 25. That might seem impossible—as she is alive, after all—but Jamie, like nine out of 10 people, was breathing incorrectly. “I went to a breath work class two years ago and it totally changed my life,” the founder of mindfulness app Happy Not Perfect told Brides. “I just couldn’t get over how it made me feel afterwards because I had totally been breathing wrong for 25 years.”
This discovery was literally a breath of fresh air for Jamie, who then wanted to share it with the world. She became a breathing instructor to help other people on their journey to taking their first proper breaths. “It’s so freeing,” she says. "It’s just using our bodies right."
So what is proper breathing? Brides sat in on a workshop with Jamie, along with Breathe Right, to find out. When we breathe, the short breaths we typically take through our chest aren’t really cutting it. Jamie recommends a "belly breath," which means inhaling through your nose and filling up your belly for a five-count breath.
"Practice taking full, deep ‘belly’ breaths through your nose," Poppy says. "On the inhale, practice letting your stomach expand. On the exhale, allow your belly to move towards the spine. Remember to relax your shoulders and breathe slowly through your nose for five seconds, then exhale slowly for five seconds. Focus on breathing this way for at least 30 seconds or until you feel calm."
Jamie continues, “What great nose and belly breathing does, it helps use your body to tell your brain that you are not in danger. It takes you out of the fight or flight mode and into the rest and relax system. And with the rest and relax system, that’s when you can make better decisions. It helps calm the emotional center and it’s the best bio-hack in the entire world.”
These types of breathing exercises are great for de-stressing, which every bride at some point in the planning process could use. “Breathing is the best trick in the world to reduce nerves and help you feel relaxed and help you enjoy the big day more,” Jamie says. “Nine out of 10 people breathe badly, so learning to breathe for your wedding day is a great present you can give to yourself.”
In addition to proper breathing, Jamie recommends using her app Happy Not Perfect on the day-of to help reduce any last-minute jitters. She launched the meditation and mindfulness app in 2018 with the help of a neuroscientist, to help other people benefit from breathing exercises. “I’m just so passionate about finding ways that we can help destress, sleep better, and feel more balanced because we shouldn’t be this stressed,” she says. “ We should be enjoying life a little bit more, but it’s easy to forget the things that we should be enjoying without feeling overwhelmed.”
Jamie recommends doing the app’s seven-step Refresh, which the founder describes as a happiness workout, on the morning of your wedding.
1. You identify the emotions you are currently feeling.
3. Journal and digitally burn your negative thoughts away.
4. Write a gratitude diary to help reframe and rewire your mind to start thinking about the positives.
5. Play a quick game to help distract any nervous thoughts.
6. Complete a compassion exercise.
7. Take the attention away from yourself, and make someone else feel good by sending them a positive vibe or words of encouragement directly through the app.
While these steps should be easy enough to follow with the app, brides might find themselves a little preoccupied in the bridal suite before walking down the aisle. If your wedding day schedule doesn’t allow time for this routine, Jamie stands by her advice to just breathe.