Nervous anticipation of a first date — seems familiar? Guys, here is a step-by-step manual of how to prepare for your first date!
No.1. Reconfirm your plans. Don’t get caught by nasty surprises on your date. Double check reservation dates and times to set your mind at ease and ensure there were no mix-ups on your part or that of the person recording your reservation. Also, it doesn’t hurt to have a “Plan B” in case “Plan A” falls through for some unforeseeable reason. Keep “Plan B” fun and simple — like picking up some great take out and eating it in a park.
No.2. Decide to accept reality. Dates — particularly first dates — can be laden with expectations, and unmet expectations can lead to disappointment or anxiety. Throw any expectations you may have about how your date will go out the window and commit to accepting that the date will be what it will be — not what you want it to be. This thought process will help put you in a calmer frame of mind. Remember that a little social anxiety is perfectly normal on a first date and unless she’s an alien, she’ll be feeling it, too.
No.3. Stretch your back. Carrying stress in the body tends to translate to tense shoulders and back pain. Release muscles that have seized up by doing a few simple stretches. To target lower back pain and tight shoulders, lie down on one lengthwise with your feet on the floor hip-width apart and your arms relaxed by your side. Stay in this posture for at least one minute. Stretches like these also help realign your spine, improving your posture, so you’ll stand taller and appear more confident.
No.4. Iron your shirt. There are two reasons to spend five minutes ironing your shirt before a first date. The first is so that you look presentable. The second is that a repetitive activity, like ironing, can induce effects in your brain similar to meditation. To deal with bothersome thoughts or niggling negative feelings, focus on each stroke you make while you’re ironing. If your mind starts to wander, refocus your attention by gently bring it back to the task at hand.
No.5. Groom. Your date will probably have spent at least an hour primping for you and women appreciate it when they can see that you put some effort into your appearance too — it sends the message that you find them attractive. So shower, comb your hair, shave, and pluck unsightly nose or ear hair. Apply a little cologne if you like, but don’t overdo, because women use your natural smell to determine whether or not you’d make a good mate.
No.6. Have a snack. When you’re famished, it’s hard to give your full attention to your date, and you may even exhibit signs of being “hangry” — that angry/irritable mood that happens when you’re starving. To avoid these unappetizing first-date behaviors, eat a snack before heading out. Doing so will help stabilize your blood sugar levels and your mood. Try something like omega-packed, mood-boosting smoked salmon with a soothing, serotonin-releasing carbohydrate like whole grain toast.
No.7. Face your fears. One trick backed by research and used by psychotherapists to help people overcome their fears is something called imaginal exposure. The idea is that by exposing yourself via your imagination to anxiety-provoking situations, your anxiety will decrease. In contrast, if you avoid facing your fears, your anxiety will increase when you are confronted with them. So if first dates freak you out, start by imagining your worst fear coming true on your date. Your anxiety will initially be high but as you keep going, it will decrease.
No.8. Replace fear with positivity. After you’ve imagined the worst, the next step is to repeatedly walk yourself through your date in your mind’s eye, each time envisioning yourself dealing competently with whatever worst-case scenario you’ve imagined. Finally, play the scenario over again with everything going smoothly. Really get into it by picturing the details of your surroundings, imagining yourself being witty, intelligent and charming, and your date responding positively to your attractive personality.
No.9. Smile! It might feel weird if you’re alone, but numerous scientific studies have shown that the act of smiling or laughing, even when you force yourself to do it, produces biological changes in your body and brain just like the ones that happen when you naturally make those facial expressions. Putting on a happy face can therefore help you squelch first-date jitters. If you feel ridiculous grinning in a room by yourself, turn on your TV and tune in to a stand-up comedy routine.
No.10. Do a 10-minute high-intensity interval workout. A quick workout will not only enhance your appearance, it will improve your mental state. Focusing on core work will give you a temporary training effect so your muscles will “pop” or appear more defined for a few hours. And, thanks to the feel-good endorphins you’ll have pumping through your system following your workout, you’ll feel more confident, upbeat and relaxed. If you don’t have 10 minutes, do 5 minutes worth of push-ups instead to target your abs and your upper body.