It’s nice to know you’re not alone with these feelings of overwhelm and anxiety. But more importantly, what on earth are you supposed to do about it?! After all, it’s kind of tricky putting your best foot forward when you feel like those feet are shoved halfway down your throat!
Fortunately, there is a solution. With a little bit of mindfulness, singles everywhere have learned to alleviate those pernicious little butterflies (bug zapper, anyone?!) and calm the anxiety that frequently comes before a date. Try out these 10 tips for utilizing your mind to get your feelings back under control.
Mindfulness Anxiety Slayer #1: Do a pre-date meditation
Mediation is an up-and-coming trend (ironically, one that’s been around for centuries) and can be used as a cure-all for just about any mental or emotional issue you might be struggling with. From anxiety to anger, depression to acceptance, and many, many more debilitating feelings, you can utilize meditation apps to help calm your nerves.
Before your date, it can be enormously helpful to do a meditation. It will calm your nerves, help you let go of negative feelings and anxiety-producing thoughts, and set your mind up for a positive dating experience. In fact, there is even a new Hinge-Headspace initiative that focuses specifically on pre-date anxiety and how to handle it like you’re the boss.
Mindfulness Anxiety Slayer #2: Breathe
Duh! But we don’t just mean this as a survival technique. Mindful breathing helps you slow down, refocus, clear out the clutter that’s building up in your mind, and think and feel more clearly. Now that’s a breath of fresh air!
Breathing mindfully is just focusing your attention on your breathing. Sit comfortably, fill up your stomach with a healthy helping of O2, and breathe out. Do this again and again, focusing solely on your breathing. You’ll be amazed at how much calmer you feel after only a few minutes of mindful breathing.
Mindfulness Anxiety Slayer #3: Practice the ‘I Am Enough!’ mentality
This is a simple mindfulness technique that has profound effects on anyone who utilizes it. British therapist, Merissa Peer, is the creator of the “I Am Enough” philosophy, and she has seen dramatic results just from implementing this simple technique. Here’s how it works:
There’s no specific technique you have to follow. You can write the phrase on your bedroom mirror, print it, and hang it up on the wall, say it as a mantra each day, do a meditation on the words. Whatever you do, the idea is the same. Have the phrase in mind, and remind yourself that you are enough. Just the way you are. Without changing a thing. “You are enough!” This practice will boost your confidence and allow you to go into a date with more ease and equanimity.
Mindfulness Anxiety Slayer #4: Do a body scan
A body scan is a quick mindfulness exercise that can kick your pre-date anxiety in the pants. Close your eyes and steady your breathing. Slowly work your way down your body, mentally touching on each part of your body. As you get to each body, you can release any tension in the area, or imagine a calming, soothing light or mist filling that area. Go from head to toe, releasing any tension you might be feeling. This technique is golden for a quick-pinch anxiety blaster.
Mindfulness Anxiety Slayer #5: Practice the Gratitude Attitude
A lot of times, we create anxiety for ourselves by focusing on the negative. You might think something like, “I had such a bad day at work. It took me so long to get this date, and it’s probably not going to go anywhere anyway. My mom has been so annoying lately.” By focusing on these negative thoughts, we inadvertently generate negative feelings and, yes, anxiety.
Try flipping the switch for a minute. Focus instead on some of the good things you have in your life. What did go right today? What can you say thank you for? Take a few minutes to hone in on what you are truly grateful for (the sense of sight, your quirky sense of humor, your biceps!), and focus instead on these. You’ll see how this shift can instantly change your mood from anxiety-riddled to “Hey, maybe this date will actually be fun.”
Mindfulness Anxiety Slayer #6: Plan mindfully
This is an easy way to use mindfulness to alleviate a lot of anxiety before the date even starts. Plan mindfully, meaning think through the date and plan accordingly. Choose a location for the date where you’ll feel safe and comfortable. You might want to use the home-field advantage, picking a locale where you frequent regularly and feel most at home. Also, plan to keep the date short. That way you aren’t stressed about having to come up with lots of topics and long conversations (you can always go longer if you feel comfortable, but this way you have an easy out - sorry, time’s up!).
Mindfulness Anxiety Slayer #7: Walk a mile in their shoes
This is actually a great mindfulness activity for every situation in life. The reason many people feel the pre-date jitters is because they’re so focused on themselves. We generate anxiety before going on a date because we go through everything that could possibly be wrong with us with laser precision. We think things like, “My outfit is all wrong, I can never come up with something funny enough to say, I sweat like an elephant in labor, and my butt looks like a helicopter landing pad!” And that’s just you getting started.
Stop for a minute, and shift your focus to the other person instead. Guess what you’ll discover. They’re nervous too! Try going through the night from your date’s perspective, and see how they might be experiencing things. When we realize that they’re just as nervous, anxious, and uncomfortable, it takes a lot of the edge off our own feelings of inadequacy and anxiety.
Mindfulness Anxiety Slayer #8: Set yourself up for success
As with any important endeavor, to have a good dating experience, set yourself up for success. Obviously, you can’t control everything that goes on in your life, but when you can...
- Avoid stressful situations the day of
- Exercise to alleviate your stress and promote positive feelings
- Eat something, so you’re not “hangry” leading up to the date
- Put on some good music to relax or get psyched
- Take a relaxing shower
Mindfulness Anxiety Slayer #9: Journal your thoughts and feelings
Journaling can help you become more mindful and aware of your feelings, thoughts, and fears, as well as what’s causing the anxiety in the first place. Becoming aware of why you’re feeling anxious can often help you get out of the heart-wrenching stress and interrupt the negative self-talk that is only further promoting your anxiety.
Mindfulness Anxiety Slayer #10: Utilize grounding techniques
If all else fails, grounding techniques (kinda the opposite of mindfulness, but whatever works!) can help get you out of the rut. They’re kind of mental distractions to take your mind off the anxiety-producing thoughts and help redirect your thoughts. Things like a memory game, counting by odds/evens, reciting something, or categorizing items can help clear away the mental fog and reset your headspace for more positive dating.
Your Dating Destiny Is in Your Hands
Dating can be stressful, but it can also be an enjoyable experience that may actually bring you to some seriously happy and enjoyable moments. Try out some of these anxiety-busters the next time you're primed for a date and panic starts to set in. And see how you can do a real 180 using just your mind - and then, dude, you’re a dating Yoda!
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