How to Handle the Stress That Comes With Holiday Dating

Holidays are stressful for almost everyone. However, when you’re with a significant other, the holidays can bring up a lot of questions. New couples may wonder if they should buy a present and long-term couples may begin to feel the heat of more personalized presents (like a ring!).

The dating world is often a muddled mix of rules—both spoken and unspoken. But when gifts are concerned, the situation often turns into a tangled web of frustration, confusion…and sometimes disappointment. During the most festive and wonderful time of the year, those in the midst of a new (or more established) relationship might be stressed out and desperately seeking Santa!

Planning the Perfect Honeymoon

Planning a wedding is certainly exciting, but it’s also downright exhausting. Fortunately, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, or rather, sunlight…and perhaps a sandy beach kissed by turquoise blue waters and a hammock built for two, where you and your new husband can melt away all the stress that you endured while planning your dream wedding.

Emotional Intelligence and What It Adds To Your Dating Life

Emotional intelligence, also known as EI, may be one of the essential factors for success in modern dating. From meeting a potential partner through a friend, at an event, or on a dating app, emotional intelligence can play a big role in how the relationship may continue to develop. Emotional intelligence, or the ability to better recognize your own emotions as well as others around you, is an important social skill that may add to the success of the long term relationship you’re looking for.

Here are some of the top reasons why emotional intelligence may be just what you need to enhance your dating life.

SELF REGULATION

There are many positive benefits of emotional intelligence, one of which is self-regulation. The ability to control your own behaviors and reactions, despite your emotions, is a trait expressed by those with high EI. People who are in tune with their emotions, understand how to manage them for improved relationships. For instance, let’s say a person is having a bad day. An emotionally intelligent person will recognize the precise reasons why they may be feeling down and address them internally without taking their emotions out on their partner.

Instead of “getting in a mood,” try getting to the root of why you may be feeling the way you are. Communicate your feelings to your partner in a calm manner, so they have a better idea of what you may be going through at that given moment.

AVOID TOXIC RELATIONSHIPS

According to Psychology Today, people with high EI, have a better understanding of reading people’s feelings and why they may be feeling that particular way. Poor communication, negative reactive behaviors, and a general reluctance to understand what the other person is feeling, are a few signs of someone with a lower emotional awareness. Such negative behaviors may turn a potential partner off, forcing them to seek love elsewhere. Those with high EI are usually quicker to spot these signs and will make the most informed decision regarding how to address the other person’s feelings.

If you notice your partner isn’t communicating effectively, it’s best to address them calmly and simply ask them “I noticed you seem a little down, is everything okay?”. If they aren’t ready to talk, you have done your due diligence by asking and can give them their space until they are ready to open up. Let them know you are there for them when they feel ready to talk.

 SELF-CONFIDENCE 

Confidence is sexy. High self-confidence has also been considered to be another trait of people with a high emotional intelligence. Healthy levels of self-esteem may be indicative of someone who has a heightened sense of self-awareness. Emotional intelligence helps a person to express the truest version of themselves, accepting their positive traits while also recognizing their own personal flaws which is crucial for success in relationships whether they be personal or professional.

If you want to learn more about EI and improve upon your emotional intelligence, you can read all about it here!

 

10 Strategies for Improving Finances as a Couple

Discussing money and finances as a couple can be difficult, but it should be a priority on the way to setting up a secure financial future. In many relationships, money is a leading source of conflict. Whether you are a new couple or a singleton, it is important to examine the role money is playing in our relationships. Here are 10 tips and strategies to improve your financial situation:

10 Strategies for Improving Finances

Be honest. While dating, it’s exciting and fun to spoil each other with expensive gifts or nights on the town. Overtime, expenses add up leading to a lot of regret and stress. It’s important to sit down and realistically examine if we can afford to do an activity or if spending coincides with our long term goals. As a couple, be upfront and talk about finances, goals, and dreams together. This will help us be more meaningful with spending so we won’t jeopardize our futures.

Avoid paying late fees. We have all had to juggle bills at one time or another, but paying late fees can ruin monthly budgets, low interest rates, and even credit scores. We owe it to ourselves to be current on our bills. If necessary, consider using automatic payments or email alerts to remind you of upcoming due dates. All of those $30 fees add up and late payments wreak havoc on interest rates paid on credit cards.

Create an emergency fund. Life happens, a lot. Cars break down, furnaces malfunction, people get sick, and surprises are around every bend. Most money experts suggest making it a priority to set aside at least $1,000 to handle these unexpected situations.

Sell unwanted items. Most of us have too much stuff. Today, a lot of our vintage and rustic treasures hiding in our closets, homes, and garages are worth a surprising sum. Take advantage of online sale sites, garage sales, and consignment stores to help us minimize and rake in some extra cash to help build that emergency fund or finance a couple’s getaway.

Pay off credit cards and debts. Many of us have been taught we need credit cards for emergencies or to build credit scores. Unfortunately, we often fall into the credit card trap and begin owing more money than we can easily repay. Overtime, this amount only snowballs as they add high interest rates and fees. Soon, there is no easy way out and we feel overwhelmed. Make it a priority to tackle these debts starting with our lowest balances and work our way up. When we have one card at a zero balance, rollover that payment onto the next card to keep up the momentum. With a little hard work and perseverance, we will eventually whittle down our debts.

Start meal planning. It’s no secret that it’s easy to grab take out on busy nights, but these impromptu meals are expensive and take a toll on our health. Instead of relying on drive thru, create a weekly meal plan. Take advantage of crock pots, instant pots, and leftovers. A few minutes planning and prepping will help us be more intentional with our grocery budgets and time, helping us reclaim our evenings and wasted money.

Evaluate insurance plans. Car, homeowner, and health insurance each take a big chunk out of our paychecks every month. Shop around for different policies and get price quotes from competing insurance companies to see if you can save money.

Ditch unnecessary expenses. Sort through statements to examine our spending habits and monthly fees. Maybe, we are paying $100 a month for cable, but rarely watch television? Look at costs and evaluate if we need to pay for these pricey services. Could we subscribe to a cheaper streaming service or watch our favorite shows for free online?

Upgrade appliances. A major portion of our living expenses often goes toward high electric and utility bills. As our microwaves, dishwashers, and other appliances wear out, replace them with energy efficient upgrades. And don’t forget the pool! Pool pumps and filters are responsible for a quarter of all energy usage in a home. Over time, these new appliances will allow us to save money without worrying about keeping the lights on.

Take advantage of a job’s benefits. Most employers offer perks and benefits for free or little cost. Look at your 401(k) plans, health savings, or flexible spending account to see if you might be losing valuable ways to save money. Some companies even offer commuter benefits, fitness reimbursement programs, car rental upgrades, and occasional admissions to theme parks or sporting events. See what is available and take advantage of these opportunities.

How do you improve your finances as a couple? We want to hear from you! 

10 Outdoor Activities for Every Couple

Spending time outdoors is a great way to enjoy life, get a healthy dose of vitamin D, and to breathe in the fresh air. Time outside is proven to have health benefits such as spurring weight loss, increasing brain activity and function, and reducing stress.

With that being said, enjoying outdoor activities is the perfect way to enjoy the company of your spouse, and luckily for you there are endless fun things to do in the great outdoors. Keep reading to learn about all of the outdoor activities that couples should be sure to experience at one point or another.

Going to the beach

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Whether you live near a beach or have to travel to take advantage of one, this is definitely not to be missed. What could be better than the salty air and warm ocean breeze? Search for seashells, dip your toes in the water, and observe wildlife for either a fun adventure or a relaxing day – you decide!

Having a picnic

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Grab your favorite sandwiches, a checkered blanket, and your sunhats and enjoy a meal outside, even if it is just in your very own backyard! You’ll love to hear the birds chirping as you sit back, relax, and enjoy a delicious meal and a bevie or two.

Gardening

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Planting and maintaining your own garden – whether it consist of shrubs, flowers, or vegetables – is a fulfilling activity. So why not share in the fun with your significant other? You’ll love the time outside and admiring your garden will be an awesome reward for all of your hard work.

Going for a walk

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As simple as it is, going for a walk is a great outdoor activity that is not only fun, but it has a wide range of benefits to it. It helps relieve stress, aids in weight management, boosts your mood, and can even make you more creative. Find a new path to enjoy together!

Enjoying a campfire

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What’s more delicious than a freshly toasted marshmallow on a s’more? Making campfire treats and snuggling with your S.O. by the fire, will definitely warm you up. After a busy week, catching up and sharing stories is a great way to make memories!

Star gazing

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Whether or not there is an astronomical event happening, watching the stars is relaxing and not to mention romantic! It’s an inexpensive date night and is also a good way to get some fresh air. You may even be lucky enough to see a shooting star!

Training a pet

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Taking your pet outside to train them is a fun thing for you and your spouse to work through together. While this will certainly take some hard work, patience, and dedication, it’s worth it to ensure that your pet is adequately trained. It’s also the best way to bond with each other and your new pet. Build trust amongst one another and enjoy the sunshine as well as each other’s company!

Going for a hike

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Why not combine quality time together with something that will make you more fit and show you some beautiful sights? A hike proves to be fulfilling and interesting. You can adjust this activity to fit virtually any skill level and it’s up to you whether you want to make it a short voyage or an all day/overnight adventure.

Seeing a drive in movie

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‘Let’s all go to the lobby’ – This is an old fashioned one, but it’s a great idea for a summer night. Kick back, relax, and chomp on some popcorn from the snack bar, as you watch a fun flick that you both can agree on. Talk about nostalgia!

Going to a fair

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Especially during the summer months, there are seemingly endless outdoor fairs and music festivals going on around us. Take advantage of one and play carnival games, eat fried food, and ride the rides for an authentic experience. You’ll both have a blast and will surely feel like kids again!

There’s nothing better than spending time with those that you love. Doing it outside is just the icing on the cake, as it’s sure to boost your mood and make your time together even more treasured. Head outside to do something fun and make unforgettable memories all summer long!

Long Distance Lovers? Here’s How To Stay Connected

While there are many upsides to having technology at our fingertips, one particularly great thing about it is the ability to send a gift to a loved one anywhere in the world. Even if physical distance separates you from someone on a holiday or special occasion, or just when you want to spur a smile, the ability to make their day still exists.

Especially since online shopping is so convenient, it’s becoming more and more popular in today’s world. Big Commerce reports that 51 percent of Americans prefer to online shop while 96 percent of Americans have made an online purchase in their life, 80 percent of those respondents having shopped virtually in the past month. Forget about packaging gift items and lugging them to the post office on your own – technology is here to simplify your life as well as the gift-giving process.

To combine convenience with the ability to send a gift across the miles, I have compiled a list of long distance gift ideas to take advantage of.

– A Personal Touch –

Thanks to technology, it’s easy to gift a loved one something with a personal touch that they will treasure forever, like a video keepsake. A few fun ideas for this are “The Top 10 Things I Love About Us” or, “Favorite 10 Memories Together”. Simply use your webcam to create the video and they will no doubt love watching it over and over again. You can even weave in photos of the two of you or video clips of fun times together to make it more sentimental

Another idea is to go paperless by creating a coupon book that you can make on simple computer programs, giving your loved one a unique and fun gift that they will be using for a long while to come! You can email it to them and give them vouchers for items like, “an hour long video chat”, “a handwritten love letter”, or “a home cooked meal when we are together”. We know that your loved one will be tickled at the thought put into this gift as well as the prospect of cashing in all these meaningful gifts.

– Photographs –

If you think custom photos gifts are too expensive and difficult to coordinate, you couldn’t be more wrong! Luckily, there are a wide range of websites out there where you can upload a picture, choose your matting and frame, and send it off as a framed gift. This is also possible to have done on canvases, which also make a great gift. Other fun photo gift ideas are custom designed memory books, phone cases, or other household items that are made better with a memory attached to them. All of these ideas are bound to be a special memento for the recipient, and they’ll think of you every time they walk past it hung on their wall!

– Flowers & Plants –

While flowers are a pretty standard gift, with so many great sites out there nowadays, we couldn’t resist mentioning this. Flower services that deliver nationwide have wide selections, making it easy to match any personality! From roses to tropical flowers to even succulent plants, these gifts are a sure-fire way to make someone smile from afar.

– Treats – 

For anyone who loves to indulge in something delicious, the possibilities are seemingly endless for what you can send their way to celebrate a special occasion. For those who love something savory, send them a tin of popcorn to snack on. Or, for anyone who has a sweet tooth, try a candy subscription so that they get their fix on a monthly basis!

– E-Gifts –

Great gifts can be delivered directly to the recipient’s email inbox! Some ideas that are sure to be a hit are a music subscription service credit, a television or streaming service gift card, an ebook gift card for a bookworm, or even airline gift cards for someone that you’re hoping will come visit you soon! The possibilities for this idea are endless, allowing you to truly match the gift to the interests and passions of your loved ones.

Thoughtful and convenient all in one? It’s possible! Modern technology makes all of our lives easier on a daily basis, and this is just one more way to take advantage of it. Give all of your loved ones – no matter how far they may live – exactly what they want by sending something directly to them that they will love.

Dating Do’s And Don’ts for Single Parents

The majority of people dream of true love, happy marriage, and commitment to one person. However, sometimes things don’t end up the way we’d hoped. And while such situations are hard in their own right, things can be even trickier if there are children involved.

But life goes on and there are hundreds of happy days waiting for all of us. And it means that our job is to move on and take brave steps towards a new life, happier life. Of course, for the majority of single parents, it means going out again, dating someone new, and building an entirely new relationship. Armed with experience, single parents tend to be more careful when choosing partners, hence there are ground to assume that they also have more chances to build happy and lasting relationships with someone special.

However, it goes without saying, that dating is different when there are kids involved. There is a need to arrange plans with kids in mind. Turns out, it is not as hard as it may seem at first glance. The first step (read: the first date after divorce) is the hardest, but things tend to get increasingly simpler over time.

But if you’re at this first step of starting your life anew after divorce, these do’s and don’ts guide will help you get started. Ready?

DO establish your priorities 

Even if finding a special someone is your first priority at the moment, you should remember that you’re a parent and keep it top of mind no matter what. You have a little human being dependent on you, which means it’s okay if sometimes your date will have to adopt his or her plans if you need it. 

DO make introductions after serious thought

Of course, your kids should know who are you sharing your life with. However, there are factors to consider. First of all, you should only introduce them to each other if you are sure things are getting serious. Second of all, keep in mind that age matters. According to studies, children under age 10 might feel anxious and angry in such a situation.

DO be honest and upfront

When you start seeing someone new, it’s one of the biggest stress events for your kids. Even if you haven’t told your kids anything yet, remember they have great intuition. Don’t make them guess, talk to them, check in with their feelings and make sure they understand the situation. Remember that your new partner deserves honesty as well. Tell your special someone that you have kids to make sure this person is even open to this.  

DON’T keep it in secret

It’s true that kids who have been through a divorce can be extra sensitive and emotional. However, it might be important for them to understand that you’re dating again and attempting to move on to live a happy life. Children tend to mimic the behavior of adults, which means it’s a good idea for you to try living an active and happy life again.

DON’T rush it 

Take things slow. When the pain of divorce is still there, your kids might suffer from anger and anxiety, and your role is to help them through it instead of giving them another reason to feel even more stressed out.

DON’T talk about kids all the time

Of course, you are a parent and your kids are the most important part of your life, but it doesn’t mean you should keep from talking about other topics. Discuss books, share your outlook on life, make jokes, be the best version of yourself. Not only will you get a chance to turn your focus from kids to something else for a couple of hours, you will have fun chatting about something other than your daily routine.

Starting over again may seem overwhelming, but at the end of the day it’s worth taking the chance at finding that special someone. If you feel like it’s time to put yourself out there, go ahead and dip your toes into the dating pool.

Practice Makes Perfect – First Date Etiquette

A right swipe has led you to another first date. Or maybe you met each other through friends or serendipity. However the plans were hatched, you need to be prepared. Yes, first dates are thrilling and adventurous, but they can also be the stuff of nightmares…or meme legends.

Don’t go into any first date without doing your homework. Plan ahead—and don’t forget an exit strategy! That’s right… just in case it isn’t working out. Then again, magic could happen. You really never know when (or why) sparks fly.

Regardless of how the night goes, there is one unfailing, cross-generational, simple rule: Remember your manners!

Your first date could be fantastic, horrible, blah or absolutely hilarious. No matter how crazy the date or how perfect the person, etiquette is still everything.  And some simple manners might just lead to another date (if you want one!):

Check-In

No, I’m not suggesting you let your date know every fine detail about your location before arrival. But if you’re running late, please shoot over a text or give them a ring. Also, if you’re at a concert or crowded venue, make sure you don’t lose each other.

Chivalry isn’t Dead…So Open the Door

Oh, the knight in shining armor…be still my heart! Or not. Life isn’t a fairy tale, and not every chica (or chico) wants to be rescued. Still, guys, it doesn’t hurt to be a gentleman.

A man who holds the door is charming. I’ll tell you, it kind of makes me blush a bit…but in a good way. A man who holds the door open is outwardly displaying that he’s looking out for you. The guy who lets it slam in someone’s face? Yeah. Not a good catch.

Woo with flowers…gentlemen

Bringing a bouquet of flowers will make a great impression. Although, bringing a dozen (or more!) roses might look a bit like you’re over-reaching. So opt for unique blooms. Try daffodils for spring. Sunflowers or bright Gerbera daisies are cheery and a cute pick for a first date flower bouquet.

Self-Care Goes a Long Way

And, please, please, please….remember to shower and groom. Not everyone finds that sweaty smell of testosterone sexy. And, ladies, not everyone loves your post-gym scent either. Body odor is not cool. Shower after the gym, please. And keep cologne and perfume use to a mild minimum! Your date will remember if you smelled like the first floor of Macy’s.

 

Be Real.

First dates aren’t necessarily the time to let everything loose. However, nothing is worse than faking who you are. To really understand if it’s a match, both sides need to give a little. This isn’t the point to let out deep dark truths, but it is the time to let your date know who you are and what you value.

Offer to Pay!

The dating world is equal when it comes to women and men. So, ladies, if you are a more traditional thinker, you might need to step out of your comfort zone. Meaning: always be prepared to split the tab. There are no firm guidelines here, and advice differs. Offer to pay half. If he (or she) objects, fine.

 

Stilettos? Opt for whatever is most comfortable! 

Wear comfortable shoes. Nothing orthopedic, but comfortable. Oh, ladies (or men, too!) super high heels can result in mishaps. And, let’s face it, some days are awkward enough without getting a heel jammed into a sidewalk crack.

Connect or Disconnect?

Bring your cell phone to a first date, as it can provide an easy out. However, don’t text friends, answer calls or check social media sites while on a date. Be considerate of your date and others around you. Snap selfies and pics if the two of you are hitting it off, though

How to Exit Gracefully…

Awkward date? Everyone has a horror story. To get out of a going nowhere meet-up, tell a friend to text you at a certain time to check in. Or take a trip to the bathroom to make a call or drop a text asking for help. Cosmo recommends faking an allergy or pretending to feel sick.

Always remember that first dates hold the potential for future love. This could be the beginning of something remarkable, something amazing. This date could be the beginning of forever. You just never know.

 

Making Your Engagement Facebook Official

To say that social media has changed the world would be a colossal understatement. It has changed how we connect with one another, how we learn about current events, and even how we celebrate major milestones in our lives. So when the love of your life finally pops the question, it feels only natural to want to head online and spread the word.

However, engagements and weddings are a very special time – for both the couple and their families. Because of this, there are a few guidelines you should follow to make sure your engagement includes everyone and still gets tons of “likes:”

Do:

Take a Moment to Be in the Moment. This is, without question, the most important thing to remember on the day you get engaged.  Make sure you take some time to be really present: remember the setting, what you both were wearing, the way he or she popped the question, and how you felt when you said ‘YES’. After all, it is an important day – the day you’ll share with friends, family, and maybe even kids and grand-kids in retellings over the years.

Tell Family and Close Friends First. I know it may seem convenient to post an engagement selfie and let everyone you know find out about it when they check their feeds. But remember what we said earlier? Engagements are about your families, too. Before you make any announcement on social media, make sure that the most important people in your life (family or even close friends) hear it from you.

Post a Pic of You Both (and That Ring)! Once you’ve celebrated with your future spouse, met with or called all the important people in your lives, and had time to soak in all the love and excitement in the air, you’re ready to make your engagement announcement. Share a loving photo of you and your fiance or a gorgeous ring selfie that shows off your new jewelry – and get ready for all the likes!

Don’t:

Make it All About Your Ring. Your engagement ring may be the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen, but that doesn’t mean you need to flaunt it too much. Sharing information like the ring’s carat size or cost can come across as…well, tacky. Also, you may open the doors to comparison from your social media friends, and that can lead to dissatisfaction with your own ring, proposal, and even relationship. Best to steer clear of all that.


Share All The Wedding Planning Details.
When you get engaged, it’s natural to let your excitement overflow into productivity. You’re ready for your dream wedding and you want to start planning now! But here’s the reality: the average length of an engagement is 14.5 months, and if you start sharing every detail now, your guests will be burnt out by your special day. Sure, you can share big moments, like the day you pick a date or find your perfect dress, but for the most part keep your plans off the Internet.

Let Social Media Overtake Your Engagement. The 14 months that you spend engaged are a unique time in a person’s life. You spend time planning – for a big party, yes, but also for a lifetime as part of a married couple. It is a special time, filled with love and advice and well-wishes from all kinds of people, both in person and online. It is easy to get swept up in it all, to browse Pinterest and read wedding blogs and thank every cousin that wishes congratulations.

But whatever you do, make sure you take time to unplug and spend a few “IRL” moments just being happy with the love of your life. At the end of your special day, the two of you are what it’s all about.

Anxiety Before A Date? Release It With These Tips!

Do you ever get that feeling that anxiety is everywhere? You’re not wrong; studies have shown that struggles with anxiety and depression have been steadily rising in the United States since the Great Depression. No one is exactly sure how this trend got started, or why it’s continued for over 80 years, but we have discovered many ways to help ease anxiety when it rears its ugly head.

Some people use aromatherapy, some meditate, and others spend time coloring. But today, we’re going to talk about a way to relieve anxiety and flood your brain with endorphins: exercise. Not only is exercise great for your physical and mental health, it can often be a great social activity – or even a great date. If you’re nervous about going out with someone you really like, then a nice, active date can be just the thing you need to release that stress and have a great time.

Explore Nature on A Hike

Walking in the woods is a great date activity for folks who love the great outdoors. It’s cheap (sometimes free), the scenery is great, and gives you and your date plenty of time to talk and get to know each other. It’s also great for relieving stress! In fact, a simple, 20-minute walk in the woods can lower stress hormones and anxiety levels. So take a little time to enjoy the fresh air and beauty of nature. You and your date will be at ease and having fun before you know it!

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Go For A Run

I know, running doesn’t seem very sexy. You’re sweaty and breathing hard, your heart is pounding… well, actually, nevermind. The point is that running is a great way to relieve anxiety (runner’s high is real, you know), and the health benefits of a good old fashioned jog are out of this world. See if your date is interested in taking in a run and catching coffee or a smoothie afterward. You’ll both feel happier after.

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Get Some Peace of Mind with Yoga

Yoga has been lauded as a great exercise for ebbing the flow of anxiety and stress. Along with stretching and strengthening the muscles, yoga focuses on deep breathing, which can help settle the mind. So if you’re waiting for your date and your mind is going a mile a minute, take a beat and relax with a few gentle yoga poses. You won’t believe how much calmer you feel!

Also, if you’re really feeling adventurous, and you’re comfortable with your date (probably not a first-date idea), you could take a class together or try out some two-person poses. Who knows – things might heat up.

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Reconnect With Your Inner Child

Do you ever remember being stressed out as a kid (I hope not)? No, those were the happy, carefree days, when everything was fun and easy. So why not take your date back to those good old days? Try playing a fun game you loved as a kid, like capture the flag or freeze tag, and soon enough you’ll both be loosened up and full of endorphins. Or if you’re looking for something more gravity defying, get on a trampoline and see if you can still do backflips like you used to!

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The next time you’re feeling anxious, sad, or overwhelmed by everyday life, don’t worry – just get on your workout clothes and try some of these exercises. Trust us, it will be nearly impossible to not have fun.