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Office Hours With Dr. Jim
by James Houran, Ph.D

In this column, "Dr. Jim" honestly and candidly answers your questions about dating, love and sexuality. He doesn’t tell you what you want to hear – he tells you what you need to hear. Dr. Jim is committed to offering you guidance based on responsible clinical practice and hard data from the latest scientific studies. Send Dr. Jim your questions today for consideration in an upcoming issue.


Online Dating is Stressful

Quick Access:
What to do when Stressed from Online Dating


I find online dating nerve racking and stressful, so what can I do?

 

Online dating seems like it should be fun, yet people constantly put pressure on themselves to find that perfect partner, or at least answer every email and wink that comes their way. In this sense, online dating can be stressful. It can also be tense for those who try to fit it in an otherwise hectic schedule. Taking care of yourself and your stress levels can enhance your online dating experience.

People at lower levels of stress often can rely on their own resources to relieve stress. But people at high levels of stress need a combination of self-reliance and social support. It’s an important thing to gain a sense of control and accomplishment – while at the same time surrounding yourself with people and resources that reinforce this. Here are some tips to achieve these goals:

» Cut out the coffee, hot chocolate and soft drinks - Caffeine causes anxiety and make things more stressful.

» Keep “toys” by your computer - It gives you something physical to do and mental at the same time, and helps reduce anxiety. Also surrounding your computer with photos and other personal trinkets like posters from favorite movies or plants and flowers that establish the area as “your territory” is helpful for relaxing tensions.

» Tackle the most stressful tasks first - As we become more tired, our stress defenses go down, so it’s best to handle the most stressful events when your body is most alert and rested. Save the online dating visits as a reward once your other tasks are done. Otherwise, you may become preoccupied while talking to that special someone.

» Exercise - Getting away from sources of conflict and exercising for just a couple minutes can reduce stress remarkably. If you can get away for a walk, that’s even better. Get some oxygen into your body by breathing deeply. If you can stop and breathe deeply for ten minutes a couple times a day, you can reduce your stress dramatically.

» Eat a sweet - When you’re feeling really stressed, take a minute and eat a bite or two of candy (watch out for chocolate, which has caffeine in it). Researchers have found that stress levels go down when we consume sugars.

» Drink some orange juice. Scientists have discovered that vitamin C reduces the production of stress hormones. Eat an orange, drink some juice, take a 200 mg. supplement, or eat other foods rich in vitamin C like broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, strawberries, grapefruit and cataloupe. Heck, feel free to snack while online.

» Sing a song - This tip does double duty, music and singing relaxes the body, AND by singing you breathe more deeply.

» Stop multi-tasking – Recent research suggests that multi-tasking is not necessarily productive. The more balls you have in the air, the more stress you can feel. Reduce the number of balls and reduce the tension and stress. When it comes to online dating, this means to go online when you have uninterrupted time… and once online, try to talk/IM with one person at a time!




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