Being nervous before or on a date is totally normal. Here are a few ideas to help you stay calm, focused and grounded.

Come to the date prepared

Silence is golden, but silence can also be awkward. Come to the date prepared with some talking points about yourself. These can be interesting or funny stories or accomplishments for which you’re proud. There is no pressure to actually mention these, but you will feel reassured to know they’re “in your pocket” if you want to start a conversation or fill the silence.

And have some thought-provoking questions in mind. People enjoy talking about themselves. You will come off as being interesting if you can get your date to talk about him or herself.

A little prep can go a long way.

Here are a few relaxation techniques you can use before your date.

Practice self-disclosures

Self-disclosure is simply telling people what you think, how you feel, and letting them see what matters to you. I don’t have to tell you there are many sensitive issues in today’s news. If you take a firm stance on something, do you want that firm stance to end a potential long-term relationship while on a date? Probably not. Before you get together, think about how you can communicate your stance, if it comes up, but without being judgmental or offending the other’s position. Being passionate yet open to hearing a different point of view. This is the gateway to intimacy. (Even if the other person is dead wrong!)

Practice self-acceptance

If we talked for 15 minutes, I could tell you several interesting or amazing qualities about you. Do you see them? Take 15 minutes to think about what you’ve accomplished recently or not-so-recently. Take this time to focus and accept your self-worth. Come to terms with your greatness, because you are great. When you feel good about who you are, your values, and what you have to offer, it comes across, and they'll see your awesomeness too!

Practice relaxation techniques

Pre-date jitters show you care. Accept them. Embrace them. And then work on ways to minimize them. Here are three ways:

  1. Deep breathing: Just breathe in and out, nice and slow, about 10-15 times. It’s quite amazing how this simple exercise can help us re-center and regain our composure.
  2. Visualizing: Picture being on a date. Imagine feeling calm and happy. See yourself enjoying your time together.
  3. Journaling: Grab pen and paper and get your thoughts and feelings out. Don’t hold it all in.

Any of these strategies can help relax us physically, mentally, and emotionally so we can walk into a date with a relaxed mindset.

Here’s a few techniques you can use while you’re on your date.

Be yourself

Ultimately, if your date doesn't like you that just means you're not a good match. It is not a reflection of you who are. If you act or talk in ways that are not true to who you are just to get the other person to like you, and they wind up liking you, that puts you in a pickle! Will you always have to be this way around them? Show up as the one and only you.

Focus on your date

As the saying goes, We have two ears and one mouth for a reason. The more you listen, the more interesting you will be. It’s sometimes important to talk about yourself, but this is a chance to really pay attention and listen to what they're saying. And not just what they’re “saying,” notice their non-verbal body language, smiles, and amount of eye contact. (Hint: eye contact is a big plus!) By shifting the focus to them, you take the pressure off of yourself and come off as someone who pays attention. This will make your date feel great and hopefully put you at ease.

Tap into your physical senses

An age-old calming strategy to help us stay present and in the moment is alerting each of our senses to focus on details around us. For instance, the eye finds one visual detail while the ear hones in on and identifies a sound. Sniff the air and isolate a single aroma. For touch, rub your fingers or hand across a nearby object and notice every textural detail. The trick with using this strategy is to also pay attention to your date. You can try one sense at a time and just for a few seconds at a time. This way, you can calm your shaky nerves without missing anything important your date says.

Find the fun together

Dating, especially the first several dates, are meant to be light and happy. Explore playfulness if the moment allows. I saw a social experiment in which somebody created a unique hopscotch board on the sidewalk of a busy city street. A camera recorded people either using the board or walking by it. Many people chose to hop and jump, and both they and their companions seemed to enjoy the whimsical event.

Sit up straight

Posture helps your energy and your attitude. When you sit, sit straight and pull your shoulder blades back and down. Feel the invisible string above your head pulling you upwards. Do you notice the shift in energy as this posture inspires confidence and conviction? Your date will notice it and respond to that energy shift too.

Stop thinking you need to prove yourself in order to win them over

Remind yourself that you are good enough, smart enough, attractive enough, and anything-else-enough for your soulmate. Your soulmate will be interested in you. So make sure you act like the authentic you as you work your way to finding your soulmate.

It might take time for you to get more comfortable. It might take practice and a number of new dates. That’s normal.

May you learn something new about yourself that will bring you closer to finding your other half.