Ah, the good old nervous jitters. Here they are again, just when you’re about to go on a date and are trying to be your most confident self.
But you know what?
We all feel nervous before a first date. It’s kind of the rule. Chances are, your date is just as anxious as you are.
I’ve got some great news, though!
Firstly, all this anticipation is actually the worst part. Once the date itself actually starts, you’ll be too busy to think about just how nervous you are.
And secondly, there is a way to overcome nervousness, or at least tone it down a little.
Here are the 9 psychological tricks you can try!
1) Slow down your breathing
It sounds simple, yet it’s actually a very effective strategy to calm your nerves.
According to research, slow breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system (which is responsible for the relaxation response in the body), thereby reducing anxiety and stress.
When you force yourself to breathe slowly, you’re essentially telling your body, “Don’t worry. You’re not in any danger. It’s all good.”
Don’t expect this to be a magic trick, though – you’ll probably still feel a bit nervous even after you’ve been breathing slowly for five minutes, but the overwhelming feeling of anxiety might turn into subtle jittery energy in the background of your thoughts.
You might not get rid of nervousness altogether, but you may feel much less nervous than before.
2) Do a mindful body scan
Have you ever heard of a type of meditation called a “body scan”?
Based on research, it could be a very useful way to reduce stress and bring one’s awareness to the present moment.
A body scan is an exercise where you try to pay attention to every part of your body, starting at the head and ending at the toes. You’re essentially “scanning” your skin as you shift your awareness.
I know, I know. You’re so nervous right now that sitting still sounds like the worst idea ever.
But consider what Barry McDonagh recommends in Dare: The New Way to End Anxiety and Stop Panic Attacks:
“Get comfortable with your anxious discomfort. ‘I accept and allow this anxious feeling.’ Now run toward the anxious feelings by telling yourself that you are in fact excited by them.”
The crucial bit is “get comfortable with your anxious discomfort”. Anxiety manifests itself through physical sensations – your throat may feel tight, your palms may sweat, and your heart may beat really fast.
Try to focus on those sensations. Accept them. Embrace them. Sit in your anxiety and feel it fully. You might soon realize that you can, in fact, be okay with your nervousness.
It’s just a temporary feeling. The best way to deal with it is to process it completely and let it pass.
3) Shake it off
Are you looking for something more energetic than a body scan or slow breathing?
I’ve got you. Taylor was right when she said, “Shake it off, shake it off.” You can quite literally shake the stress off.
Well, here’s the thing. When you’re stressed, your body is in the midst of the fight-or-flight reaction. Your muscles tense up, your heart rate increases, and you’re buzzing with adrenaline.
The act of shaking helps release that tension in your muscles and calm your nervous system.
Try shaking your body in a way that feels comfortable. Alternatively, dance to some upbeat songs.
Oh, and speaking of songs…
4) Listen to feel-good music
They say that music is food for the soul. I couldn’t agree more. In fact, music is so nourishing that it can affect your self-view and confidence.
When you listen to music that makes you feel good, you might boost your sense of optimism and feel better about yourself overall.
So, how about you dance around to Single Ladies in the comfort of your bedroom before you go out on your date? And why not play some confidence-boosting songs in your headphones on the way there?
You can also combine dancing with shaking, mixing these two tricks together.
5) Use your posture to boost your confidence
When I say that your thoughts affect your body posture, you probably won’t be all that surprised.
People who are shy may try to appear small, while people who are confident will walk with energy and purpose. But what if I said that the same principle applies the other way around?
Yep, it’s true – body posture has been shown to affect confidence in your thoughts.
What’s more, there are certain “power poses” that will boost your confidence more than others, such as standing with your hands on your hips or leaning your hands against the table in an assertive manner.
How about we use this knowledge to our advantage in the realm of dating? When you’re going on a date, remember to:
- Keep your back straight
- Hold your head high
- Walk with purpose
Moving your body with confidence may automatically affect your thoughts, increasing your self-esteem.
Fake it till you make it.
6) Give positive affirmations a try
Positive affirmations may sound like a lot of nonsense, but the truth is that there are plenty of studies out there that confirm just how effective they are.
The issue with positive affirmations is that you’ve got to know how to use them and that you’ve got to actually mean them.
If you mumble to yourself, “I am a love magnet,” you might end up cringing and shaking your head.
Instead, find affirmations that work for you. You may not respond well to “I’m worthy of love,” but you might like “I am in the process of finding the person who’s right for me and who will value me for who I am.”
Once you’ve found affirmations that speak to you on a deep level, listen to them, write them down, or say them out loud *like you mean them.* That part’s very important.
7) Remember the importance of authenticity
If you’re worried about your “performance” on the date, try to remind yourself that there are billions of people out there in the world and that it’s better to stay authentic and keep going on dates for a little while longer than to pretend you’re somebody else and settle down for someone who doesn’t fulfill your true wants and needs.
As the shaman Rudá Iandé says in his free masterclass on love and intimacy, the expectations we place on ourselves when dating are incredibly important:
“You must set expectations very well because if you push too much and set them too far away from who you really are, then you can put yourself in trouble.
First, because you would make this relationship quite uncomfortable for you. You would create a false image of you to your partner and you would have to make a constant effort to not disappoint.
You wouldn’t let the real person you are even have the chance of being loved. You would let your partner only love the false self you have created.”
When you look at dating through this lens, you’ll realize that dates are really not that big a deal – either you’ll find someone who can vibe along with your authentic self, or you won’t be a match and you’ll go your separate ways.
Rudá Iandé goes into much more depth on expectations and the role they play in relationships in his eye-opening video.
8) Zoom out
Another trick I’ve been practicing ever since I can remember is to zoom out of the situation at hand.
Take a step back. Look at the whole story of your life. Think back to your past experiences.
In the grand scheme of things, this date really isn’t such a big deal, right? I mean, it’s just two hours of chatting with another person before you head home. Really, it’ll be over before you know it.
Of course, the nervousness you feel is completely valid. But shifting your mindset in such a way can help you delude yourself into an “it’s no big deal” attitude, which can in turn calm your nerves.
Tried and tested.
9) Keep yourself busy before the date
Lastly, consider the malleable nature of time.
Time stretches on when you’re lying in your bed and staring at the ceiling, but once you’re occupied with multiple different activities, it flies by.
Therefore, one final trick is to keep yourself busy. Pour your energy into other things. Pay the jittery feelings no heed.
If your date’s on Saturday evening, why not do a big deep clean of the house throughout the day? Or go out for coffee with a friend?
Sometimes, the best way to deal with nervousness is to stop assigning it so much power.