So I’ll be honest, I’m a little nervous to post this post! I really wanted to be transparent and open about certain things I’ve really had a hard time with, hoping to encourage others feeling the same. It’s easy to feel alone, like we’re the only ones dealing with stuff, and that others might not understand! That’s SO far from true!!
I started my business as a freshman in college. There was a LOT going on, but I really didn’t feel completely overwhelmed and stressed out. Obviously my business wasn’t near as busy, and I was shooting less weddings! But even after I graduated, I photographed 7 weddings that month. I still remember that time being crazy, but still didn’t feel that crushing anxiety and stress that came later. It wasn’t until the year after that, and into this year I really struggled with this!
I’m definitely type A. I like to think I can let go of control easily and go with the flow, but honestly that can be hard for me! I like having my ducks in a row, and fear the unknowns that they’ll all topple over if I make a mistake.
As I got further into photography being full-time after college, those unknowns, the fear of failing, worrying about a fluctuating income, and not being where I felt like I could be consumed me. To the point where I’d struggle (and sometimes still do) to sleep before wedding days, just so anxious something would go wrong or I wouldn’t fulfill my bride’s expectations in photographing her day!
Edward and I got engaged, and I thought about the future more than ever. But it’s so hard to plan when each month and year is so different with this job!
With all of these fears and pressure I felt with my job along with planning our wedding running through my head at once, I was having way too many meltdowns! I’d sit there telling Edward through tears it was a lot, I was really struggling with the unknowns, planning a wedding is stressful, and fighting for a good work/life balance was hard! For me, I was able to leave the office regularly, but fought to mentally check-out to. I’d carry a discouraging email away and let it affect my entire evening, or knowing a large workload was coming would consume my thoughts!
BUT I share this with you to tell you things aren’t like that quite as much! Yes, I still struggle with fearing the unknowns at times. I still sometimes feel overwhelmed wedding planning. I still carefully study finances and have enjoyed being proactive budgeting. I feel like I’ve come farther than ever with a good work/life balance mentally but it’s still a fight! And I wanted to share a few steps I took to help cut down this stress and anxiety in my life!
Before going further, I wanted to remind you that I don’t have a psychology degree. I definitely am not trying to sound like an expert. I’m 100% sure there are other ways to reduce stress that I didn’t include. If you feel something big was left out that has helped you with this, please don’t be offended. I simply wanted to share some of the top things that have helped me personally in my life, and how I’ve seen results in my own life!
I grew up playing a variety of sports through elementary school and high school, and definitely slacked in college. But with the power walking around all day to different classes, I still stayed relatively active! But after college, I realized I had to really push myself to be sure I was exercising! Yes, sessions and especially weddings take a LOT out of your body. You’re carrying several pounds of equipment, and are often on your feet for 10+ hours. But doing that here and there just wasn’t enough! Or it would leave me absolutely exhausted after a wedding day.
Towards the beginning of this year, the stress was just really getting to be and I knew I needed a release. I began running more which was something I hadn’t done super regularly since high school. This helped release a lot of the stress build-up from the day, especially on office days where the only exercise I would have gotten was walking to the fridge (just trying to be real haha!)! I know running isn’t for everyone (I honestly don’t love it!), but finding an exercise outlet really helped keep my mind going during the afternoon lull, and release stress!
I’ve learned more than ever how powerful outsourcing is! I need to do an entire post on this, but a huge part of it for me is wedding editing! I edit the images for the blog and vendor gallery, then send the rest off to my editor to finish! I get HOURS back, and am less tied down behind my computer. But I also outsource by using HoneyBook, which automatically sends clients invoices and makes communication easy. It basically stays on top of things so I can worry less about it!
Along with this, in wedding planning, I’ve learned how important it is to delegate. As much as a type A person like me thinks they can do everything, a wedding is too much to figure out on your own. It’s ok to give things to others to do- actually they’re happy to help! It’s one of those pieces of advice I’ve always told my brides, and now it’s my turn to implement!
Things always come up with work. We have struggles with different relationships. Business isn’t going the way we thought it would. All of these things have probably come up at some point like they have for me! But one thing I’ve really learned is not to just run to anyone for advice or to share situations with. But specific people you trust.
I’ve heard it explained that if you want to get fit, you wouldn’t go to someone not fit asking for advice. The same is true in all other areas too! Instead of getting numerous opinions and wondering which to go with, share with only specific people. For a business question, I go to someone who’s work ethic is strong, who has built a successful business, and who I respect. If I’m not sure now to respond to an email, I have a specific friend I text who is gentle with words, great with people, and has a flourishing business. But sharing with the masses isn’t healthy, and just leaves me stumped with what path to follow!
This might seem random, but a lot of stress can come from finances. I remember being stressed about work or life, then seeing my credit card statement wondering how on earth that happened! Not to mention having a fluctuating income being self-employed! So in the past few weeks I’ve read Dave Ramsey’s book “The Total Money Makeover” and Rachel Cruz’s book “Love Your Life, Not Theirs.” Both are very eye-opening and helpful to having peace about your financial situation! I’m NO financial expert in the least!! But by reading these books, I was able to understand managing finances more, in the past month I’ve made some major changes that allow me to be more stress-free about money. Even though I grew up hearing a lot of these principles, these books were extremely helpful for me!
And just a side note, when Edward and I had been dating a little over a year and knew things were getting pretty serious, we began talking a little about finances. I’ll admit, it was a little uncomfortable at first, but I’m beyond thankful we did. Now we’re able to talk about it comfortably and even plan for our budget after marriage even though we’re still a few months out! Knowing we’re on the same page has been a huge help and something less to feel pressure about!
It can be SUPER hard to decide to close the laptop, turn email and social media notifications off (I actually keep mine off all the time and that really helps!), and not work at all a day. If you work for yourself, you get how hard it is to not be given a set few days off from work! Especially when you can basically work from anywhere if you have your laptop, so work can be constantly glaring at you in the face! But it’s important to set aside the time and mentally prepare yourself not to work.
I’ve found that I need work hours that I will work really hard during, and when I’m finished, be sure to unplug and not do little pieces of work here and there. It’s more efficient to do everything when you’re in work mode plugging away, rather than working halfway for twice as long to get the same amount done! So work hard when it’s work time, but don’t feel bad about taking breaks when needed!
I recently took a few days slower, knowing if not I would feel burnt out. Since I knew this ahead of time, I was able to get through busy season without feeling completely drained. I worked hard when I needed to, but also stopped and spent time doing other things.
It’s also important to not just take breaks and do things other than work, but also rest! When planning sessions out, I made sure I did my best to not have a session the day before a wedding. This way I knew I could take the day beforehand slow, have all of my equipment ready well beforehand, and take it easy the day before I was shooting all day! Planning this way has been really helpful!
Even though I’m ending with this, it’s the most important step in this post. How often do we try to grab our life out of God’s hands, and want to direct it ourselves (it’s pretty often for me!)?? I had to come to a point where I saw how big of a problem this anxiety was. But not only that, I had to realize how prideful I was not to trust God and to try to direct my own life. In a sermon I heard the quote “To be overwhelmed with anxiety is to be consumed with one’s self rather than Him.” It’s about reminding myself to turn my attitude away from self, and to thankfulness and humility. It was a heart issue that’s been one of my biggest battles the last few years, but one I know God has been so good to give me strength and help. So when I feel that tight, anxious feeling creeping up, I have to remember to begin thanking God for all He’s given me. I have to see things in perspective and not worry about things I can’t control and give it to Him. And that true humility looks like complete trust that God will carry me through, just as He always has. I know this paragraph sounded like a devotional, but true, lasting peace can only come from Jesus Christ.
I’m sharing this because these tips have genuinely changed my thinking and life. But again, I’ve felt alone in this big struggle and knowing I wasn’t alone was so comforting! I’ve found out it’s so common to have those feelings of not being enough, and being so anxious about everything! Having a business in the wedding industry does come with come high pressured situations, hard days where my feet feel more tired than I knew possible, and a lot of responsibility. But with that comes the perks of being self-employed, the blessing of getting to know the sweetest couples on the planet (no joke), and getting to serve others by doing something I LOVE. By remembering this and going through these steps I’ve shared, I’m able to live more of a stress-free life, and am so encouraged to see how God has allowed me to grow here! I hope this is helpful and encouraging to you!