I have a pretty solid routine to get myself ready for a first date: I listen to a playlist of pop divas while I do my makeup (@ me for my Ariana Grande recs), spritz on perfume, and look over my date's dating app profile and Instagram to make sure I'll recognize him at the bar. I've been on enough first dates in my life that I rarely get nervous before meeting new people anymore. But when I discovered Hinge's new pre-date Headspace meditations, I was kind of intrigued.
According to the dating app, more than three in four users report feeling nervous and anxious before a date in general, and one in four say they're even more stressed out before dates now, thanks to the pandemic. As a result, Hinge partnered with Headspace to create two meditations designed to soothe those feelings. One recording is intended to quell pre-date nerves, and the other is aimed at quieting negative thoughts. Both are free, five to six minutes long, and accessible on Hinge's site.
While I don't meditate daily, I often turn to Insight Timer's free sleep meditation recordings when I'm too anxious or wired to fall asleep. (This one is my favorite; you're welcome.) Meditation has made a noticeable difference in my life, and I know the health benefits are legit: Studies have shown regular practice can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, as well as increase self-awareness, strengthen your attention span, and more.
I decided to test out one of the meditations before my first date with Daniel, a guy I happened to have met on Hinge. While I fully intended to peacefully meditate at home before our date at an outdoor cocktail bar, life got in the way. My best friend's birthday brunch plans turned into an all-day afternoon hang, which turned into a last-minute snack run. I wound up speed-walking to the bar while scarfing down a taco.
When I met Daniel at a table outside the bar, I felt completely frazzled. It turns out this bar doesn't have table service due to the pandemic, meaning one of us would have to wait in line to pick up drinks at the window while the other saved our table. Daniel volunteered to go. The line was long, which meant I could squeeze in a quick meditation.
I tried to relax as I listened to a posh British accent explain, "Even though there might be lots of excited and happy thoughts, as well as anxious and negative thoughts, this creates a storyline in the mind, and it means we are not actually in the present moment or connected with our body." The voice led me through a meditation technique called a body scan, which involves breathing deeply with your eyes closed and paying attention to each part of your body. (I kept my eyes open and focused on the table in front of me because I was already pushing the limits of normal bar behavior.)
I was instructed to notice any feelings of stillness or restlessness. I did feel restless, but as the voice led me through scanning my head, shoulders, hips, thighs, and more, I began to settle down. I listened to the voice describing the connection between my feet and the floor, and I sat back in my chair with the soles of my shoes pressed against the pavement.
When Daniel returned with our drinks, I felt significantly more grounded than I had a few minutes earlier. There was a noticeable difference in my body language: I was no longer tense and upright; I could sit back and relax. The adrenaline rush of racing to the date had faded away. I could simply focus on having a good time.
I liked that the meditation made me feel calmer and more present than I would have felt otherwise. If you're someone who gets nervous or stressed before a date, this might be a resource to consider trying out. And if it's not doing the trick for you? Well, there's always Ariana Grande.