Dating can be stressful. Have you ever felt your body heat up and your heart racing while swiping on dating apps?
What about your mind racing when you haven't heard from someone in hours?
If so, you're familiar with what it's like to have your nervous system go into fight, flight or freeze mode (also referred to as feeling triggered). It's not a great experience since it hinders you from making the best choices.
The good news is that if you can pinpoint the physical sensations in your body when you are triggered, you can use techniques to self-regulate and feel less anxious. This is key for anxious daters because dating becomes unbearable if you constantly react when you're dysregulated.
Most of my single life was spent feeling drained from dating apps, worried people would never call me back, and not being able to get any work done. That's because I lived in the dysregulation. I did nothing to change my state except for all the behaviors that made it worse.
Today, I'm equipped with a long list of self-soothing techniques that help me regulate my central nervous system when I'm triggered.
I'm thrilled to be able to share those with you here:
5 Senses Mindfulness Technique
Sit down in a comfortable place. Start to take deep breaths.
Go through each of your five senses and either say the things you notice out loud or in your head. What do you see? What do you hear? What do you feel? What do you taste? What do you smell?
By focusing on noticing what's happening around and to you, your heart rate will slow down, and you'll be brought back to the present.
For this one, you'll also want to sit and close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths. Then, begin the box-breathing cycle, which looks like this:
Inhale for four seconds, hold your breath for four seconds, exhale for four seconds, hold your breath for four seconds, and repeat. Try this cycle at least ten times and see if this helps you feel calmer from whatever triggered you.
Light to Moderate movement
You can walk, dance, skip, or play with your pet. You can do yoga or try out a slow pilates video on YouTube. What's surprisingly worked well for me is jumping on a small trampoline in my office. Find what works for you that feels enjoyable instead of work. Remember: this is about regulation, not getting a workout in.
An old therapist taught me this technique, and it's worked wonders for me over the years. Sit or lie down with your eyes closed. Take a few deep breaths. Then, go through each body part and notice the sensations you feel. Start with the top of your head and move your way down to each of your toes.
Really focus on each body part; you'll feel at least a bit of a sensation no matter where you focus your energy if you try.
Going outside, in the sun
Sunshine is shown to produce serotonin, and you can focus on the way it feels against your skin. Also, take note of the ground beneath your feet.
Enjoying time outside can help lower your stress hormones and regulate your nervous system, so your whole day doesn't feel wrecked.
Something that consumes your mind
There's a psychological state that almost everyone can achieve where time passes without you even noticing because you're so focused. This state is called flow, and what gets a person there looks different for everyone.
For me, I go into a flow state when I'm painting, reading, or playing video games. For you, it may be when you're taking care of your plants, dancing, or watching your favorite show (as long as it's a calm show-- we don't need you feeling even more activated).
Visualizing happy memories
My last self-soothing technique for you is visualizing happy memories. Studies show that simply remembering happier times can help a person elicit those emotions.
If you can think about every small detail of a joyful memory or at least a memory where you were at peace, you can calm your nervous system. Bonus points if you can think about multiple memories!
Dysregulation and dating aren't the best mix, though they happen. The goal isn't to never feel triggered; in fact, our triggers can be a message to make some magical changes in ourselves and begin a healing journey.
The goal is to have a toolkit of self-soothing techniques that help you when things feel overwhelming.
Check out my free dating anxiety journal prompts to help you understand yourself more and the changes you want. to make in dating.
If you want to move towards feeling confident and secure when looking for love, grab your copy of my 30-day dating guide "From Anxious to Secure."