Soothing music fills the air, candlelight softly illuminates your face and a warm evening breeze brings the scent of jasmine into the room -- are you on your dream date? Nope. This is all happening inside your head when you practice the relaxation technique known as visualization. By transporting yourself in your mind to a place that makes you feel calm and relaxed, visualization can help you erase the tension induced by thinking about your impending date. Less tension means steadier hands for applying mascara or shaving off a five-o'clock shadow, and more energy left over for sparkling conversation and salsa dancing. According to the Mayo Clinic, practicing visualization and other relaxation techniques can do the following:
- Slow your heart rate
- Lower your blood pressure
- Increase blood flow to your muscles and reduce muscle tension
- Boost confidence
Just breathing more deeply can help calm a frazzled mind. Practice the 4-7-8 breath recommended by Dr. Andrew Weil, or try abdominal breathing, which helps to deepen your breath and relax the abdominal muscles that keep those butterflies trapped in your stomach.
Since being in a rush will raise your adrenaline, give yourself plenty of time to get ready. If you know that you won't have much time, plan ahead. Know what you're going to wear, down to the last accessory, and program directions to the restaurant into your GPS. If you're going straight from work, all the better -- you're already dressed. Ladies, just switch out low-key daytime accessories for something more glamorous, and touch up your makeup for the nighttime lights. Gentlemen, put on a jacket and comb your hair.
Other methods you may use to relax before your date depend on your personality. If the date follows a hectic day at work, you might prefer a long, warm bath while listening to calming music. Someone with energy to spare might find it more relaxing to dance around the house to loud music and take an invigorating shower before the date.
If all else fails, take the tried-and-true route to feeling good -- laugh! Laughter turns off the hormones responsible for the fight-or-flight response to stress [source: Mayo Clinic]. So take a few minutes before your date arrives to watch a favorite funny video or read a comic strip that you know will split your sides.
Next up, we'll look at another way to use body chemistry to boost your mood.