COVID, politics, climate change, lockdown, human rights, finances, bored kids are just the tip of our iceberg of stressors.
Bad news is coming at us from all directions; conversations with family and friends inevitably end up processing the bad news. Even in our happy moments, the undercurrent of stress and uncertainty is always present.
If you’re wondering where your sex drive has gone over the past 6 months, you’re not alone.
Sex and stress, anxiety and fear do not make happy bedmates, and that’s a biological fact.
Biologically, stress is killing our sex drives.
Our emotional and physical stress is…
Activating our fight or flight reflex and that reduces blood flow to our genitals.
Releasing cortisol and adrenaline, two hormones that depress testosterone levels
Reducing our brain’s neurotransmitters that produce feelings of well-being, increasing the risk of depression and anxiety
Undermining erections and impacting our orgasms
Researchers with the Massachusetts Male Aging Study, in an ongoing investigation of 1,709, concluded that men who suffer from stress are almost twice as likely to experience E.D.
From a female perspective, women who are stressed shut down around sex. Mental worries and distractions turn our attention away from desire.
If sex is not on your mind these days, don’t beat yourself up about it.
Our bodies are not designed to think about sex when our brains are communicating that we may be in danger. We can’t convince our bodies that we’re safe, when in fact we’re not.
We can’t argue ourselves out of being in fight or flight mode.
Our bodies were built for stress. Stress warns us of danger. It helps to keep us alive.
But our bodies were not built to live with consistently high levels of stress on an ongoing basis.
When stress is dictating our lack of sexual desire, we need to find ways to regulate our stress. We may not be able to avoid stress, but we can learn to manage it.
Here are some things to do to step off the stress wheel regularly and signal to your body that it’s safe to relax for a while and turn your attention to what’s pleasurable.
Print this out. Put it on your fridge. Remind yourself every day that you can choose to lower your stress levels regularly.
Stress buster #1:Tell It Like It Is
Acknowledging that stress is at war with our sexual desire is the first step we can take to lighten the load of our judgment of ourselves and each other.
Sit down and have a conversation with your partner about your current sexual frequency. Share how stress impacts your sexual desire and reassure your partner that your loss of desire for sex has nothing to do with them personally. Don’t assume they know this.
We all need to be reminded that we’re sexually desirable and loved. Words go a long way to calm insecurities when it comes to sex.
Stress buster #2:Plan time for sex
I can’t say this enough. Don’t get stuck in the rut of letting the days go by hoping you or your partner will be in the mood to initiate intimacy. Agree that sex is important enough to prioritize. Put yourself in the room and trust that your initial resistance will fade as you start to slow down, breath deeply and connect.
Rather than making intercourse your goal, be open to whatever your intimate time together will bring. Just agree that for a set period of time, your bodies will be in contact, one way or another. Touch, massage, hug, cradle, share. Make intimacy your goal, and everything else will follow.
Stress buster #3:Touch and be touched
Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want from your partner. Ask for a massage or a shoulder rub or an extended hug. Offer to give one in return with no strings attached. Being in close proximity to our lover’s body is already producing a host of feel-good hormones. Take advantage of it and get up close.
Stress buster #4: Orgasms are powerful
The one step solution to stress? Give yourself an orgasm.
Orgasms flood our brain with oxytocin. They are nature’s antidote to high levels of cortisol, and that’s why masturbation is such a common sleep aid.
We now understand the profound impact orgasms have on our mental/emotional state. Whether you’re alone or with a partner, orgasms are abundant and free. Include them in your wellness practice as a sure fire way to lower your stress levels and keep your sexual energy flowing.
Stress buster #5:Exercise daily
We all know how good it feels to know we’re giving our body what it needs to be healthy and vital. While sex and stress don’t jive, sex and exercise make a great pair. Move your body daily. You’ll sleep better and your stress levels will drop. Use a brisk walk or run to prepare for intimacy and get your blood flowing to all the right places.
Stress buster #6:Stop, look, listen
If you’re needing a quick fix to the stress of a busy mind, use your 5 senses to drag your attention out of your chronic thinking and into your body of senses.
Our 5 senses are constantly feeding us information. They’re showing us what’s beautiful, what smells good, what feels good against our skin, what tastes delicious.
We’re usually just not listening. We’re stuck in past or future thinking.
It takes a nanosecond to notice that your mind is somewhere other than where you are, and another nanosecond to drop your attention into your body where you actually live and breathe.
Your body is where your experience of pleasure takes place, so tune into your senses and enjoy what your body is telling you.
Stress Buster #7:Laugh Therapy
Laughter and sex have a lot in common. They both strengthen neuropathways in the brain, they both create a feeling of closeness, and they both build the bonds in a relationship.
All three of these support intimacy, and intimate connection with our partner floods our brains with Dopamine. When we laugh we can literally feel the stress leave our body. Our state is instantly changed.
Look for humor throughout your day. It may not always be obvious but it’s there, waiting to be shared. Put on a favorite stand-up act, watch a comedy on Netflix, laugh out loud together and let the good times roll right into the bedroom.
Many of the couples I work with benefit from coaching to move from stress to connection.
Do you believe your best sex and deepest intimacy is yet to come?
Schedule your free discovery call and learn how sex and intimacy coaching opens the door to better love, sex and desire.
I woke up this morning feeling emotionally battered by the bullying behavior in our first national Presidential debate this week. I thought about how many people who currently live, or have lived under the same roof with an adult bully. I wondered how many of them were left triggered by the bullying behavior that is all too painfully familiar.
If sex is not on your mind these days, don’t beat yourself up about it. Our bodies are not designed to think about sex when our brains are communicating that we may be in danger. We can’t convince our bodies that we’re safe, when in fact we’re not. When stress is dictating our lack of sexual desire, we need to find ways to regulate our stress. We may not be able to avoid stress, but we can learn to manage it.
You may not identify with having sexual shame. You may be quite liberal when it comes to the sex you see on screen and in advertising. You may support honest and truthful sex education, and have a tolerant, accepting attitude toward less conventional sexual expressions. The shame I’m talking about is found less in spoken opinions and more in unspoken feelings and beliefs. Not wanting to talk about sex in our relationships is how we carry forth our ancestor’s sexual doctrine, and I see it in many of my clients.
Teri and John (we’ll call them) came to see me a few months ago. They described their 15 year relationship as compatible and loving, except when it came to sex and intimacy, neither of which they were able to figure out how to change for the better. They reached a point where they could see three roads ahead of them...