Playing the dating game can be pretty tricky – it’s something of an emotional minefield at the best of times, but if you’re an anxious person, the thought of putting yourself out there and making yourself vulnerable in the name of love can make it even harder. Sometimes it just seems easier to sit at home in your pyjamas and go through life alone!
But, of course, no one truly wants that, no matter how much they say they do – and the good news is that, even if you do suffer from anxiety, there are all sorts of little ways you can help make yourself feel more at ease when it comes to meeting new people and getting out and about.
To help you dip your toe in the dating waters, here are a couple of our top tips for dealing with anxiety while on the quest for love. Before you know it, you’ll be a dating pro!
A problem shared is a problem halved, or so they say, and you might well be surprised by just how kind people can be when you tell them honestly how you’re feeling.
If you do have a date coming up and are starting to worry about it excessively, what about dropping your date a message to say you’re feeling a little anxious? They’re sure to put your mind at ease – and, if they don’t for whatever reason, it might be that they’re not the right person for you in any case.
Have a practice date
Before the big day, sit down and think about the date and the various steps you’ll have to initially take, from the first meeting to ordering drinks and food, to saying goodbye at the end of the evening. Rehearse a few imaginary conversations with yourself, visualising everything going well.
It can also be useful to consider what you would do if something does go wrong. Having a game plan in place for certain eventualities, such as spilling a drink, can help calm your thoughts.
Give yourself time
There’s nothing worse than rushing around and feeling like you’re going to be late for a date – that’s sure to heighten your anxiety no end! So, on the day, make sure you plan properly and give yourself enough time to get ready without panicking and feeling rushed, as well as enough time to get to your meeting place so you can arrive with a smile on your face.
Try mindfulness exercises
It can be very easy to find yourself stuck in a cycle of anxious thoughts and it can be very difficult indeed to break out of them. But mindfulness can be a really effective tool for anyone with anxiety – especially if you try lots of breathing exercises, as these can really centre the mind and slow your heart rate right down.
Square breathing is a really useful little technique and one that can make a huge difference to how you feel. Simply make yourself comfortable and breathe in slowly to the count of four. Then hold your breath for four and let it out for four. Rest and repeat!
Do this for five minutes or so and see how you feel. The key is to bring your attention back to your breath and the sensations within your body whenever your mind wanders… you’re sure to feel more peaceful afterwards.
Hit the gym
Exercise is the cure for all sorts of issues and it can really help with anxiety, as it gives you a nice big rush of endorphins, making you feel happy and instantly less stressed and worried.
On the morning of your date, what about heading to the gym and doing a few sets? Running is also amazing for your mental health – especially if you head out somewhere in nature and go for a country run. Failing that, even a little stroll around your neighbourhood can give you the clear head you need to go on your date feeling buoyed up and full of confidence.
Overthinking – the art of worrying about problems that don’t exist! If you’re sat at home catastrophising about your date and giving your anxiety more attention than it deserves, try a few distraction techniques.
Doing something practical can really help you manage your thoughts and feelings, so even if it’s just cleaning the house, give it a go and see how you feel afterwards.
If you’re in a creative mood, what about trying some colouring-in? This is great for anxiety and there are loads of adult colouring-in books out there you could try. A fun way to get rid of anxious thoughts and feelings!
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