It’s totally normal and healthy to experience dating-related nervousness – your heart might race, you may have sweaty palms, find yourself speaking fast or suddenly overcome with shyness. And right now, with the coronavirus pandemic impacting so many aspects of daily life, including dating, your anxiety may be at an all-time high. In fact, according to a recent Plenty of Fish study, 84% of singles believe that feeling anxious is normal and relatable, yet 7 in 10 report feeling more anxious than usual right now.
When normal jitters turn into feelings of anxiety, where your thoughts and fears can spin out of control and leave you feeling insecure and mentally drained, it’s time to pause, breathe, and consider why exactly you are feeling this way. The truth is, anxieties are often unprocessed emotions. In fact, scientists are exploring the connection between emotional memory and anxiety, meaning the feelings you experience about dating today are likely connected to past experiences that have not yet been processed.
The good news is that anxiety doesn’t have to hold you back from connecting with others ; learning ways to process and manage your emotions, can help make finding love a more enjoyable process. Here are five tips to help you handle and manage your anxiety:
1. Remember that Anxiety is Looking to Heal You Not Hurt You: Think of anxiety as your body’s way of telling you to slow down. Next time your anxiety kicks into gear, put your feet on the floor (literally, place your feet on the ground) and stand up straight so you can connect to the present moment. All emotions (even past ones) get processed in the here and now.
2. Press Your Brake Pedal: Emotions need oxygen to be fully processed, so try to slow down your racing mind and breath. Gently pull your navel toward your spine (as if you were slowing down for a red light), then release your abdominal muscles so you can inflate your lower abdomen (like a tire tube) with oxygen.
3. Release Irrational Thinking: Irrational thoughts fuel fear and worry, especially when you say things to yourself like, “I always have bad luck with dating” or “there is no one out there for me.” You can quiet those negative thoughts with a simple but effective calming exercise. Begin by closing your eyes, rubbing the back of your earlobes or massaging the back of your neck for twenty seconds.
4. Embrace Your Emotions: Emotions don’t cause pain but resisting them can. One simple way to feel your emotions in a positive way is to hum to yourself. This simple action sends a vibration through your body allowing you to release negative thoughts and allows good feelings to flow through you.
5. Reduce Pressure: Be open and honest about your nerves with someone you’re interested in. Believe it or not honesty provides a sense of safety between people and as a result, calm and comfort can begin to set in.
Anxiety is common. It is our body’s and mind’s way of reminding us to pay attention to what is causing us stress and explore new ways to practice relaxation.