Stress is epidemic. Sex is everywhere. Can we blend these two trends in a positive way?
The first step is to recognize that an unhealthy outlook on sex is a source of stress. Conversely, a deep and steady sexual connection is a proven form of stress relief.
How does sex counteract stress?
Having sex can release endorphins and other hormones. Having sex is also exercise. All those hormones and all that exercise combine to elevate mood. That’s the accepted science. But let’s face it. There’s more to healthy sex than just hormones. It connects us socially. It’s often part of being in love. Sex is a unique avenue that can guide us to a happier place.
But sex can also contribute to stress. Consider these examples:
- Performance issues: Are we good enough? Will we satisfy our partner?
- Self-critique: That inner voice may tell you stories about how you look or what you’re worth
- Compatibility: Each of us “has sex” as an expression of our own desires, needs, preferences, and so on. But what does our current partner think and feel about that?
Prescription: Do the work to improve your sex life and watch how it helps decrease stress.
How to jumpstart your sex life
1. Practice self-care
Loving yourself contributes mightily to your comfort zone in making love to others. A basic part of loving ourselves is self-care. If we are the best version of ourselves, it works as a powerful counter to the stressful examples listed above. Here’s how to get started:
- Regular exercise and activity: being fit is never a bad thing
- Sleep patterns: mood and energy grow from adequate rest and recovery
- Eating habits: skip the clickbait articles and find yourself a skilled coach
- Relaxation techniques: yoga, Tai Chi, and so on
Make time to talk. This means talk, face to face. No texting or Facetime. Have a real conversation. Discuss your needs and desires. Commit to compromise and experimentation. But most importantly, commit to communication.
3. Ditch the porn
At first, you may see it as a way to “spice” things up. Over time, it will likely weaken your connection. Rather than relieve stress, porn can be a fast lane to more stress. Say yes to collective imagination.
4. Broaden your perspective on what “sex life” means
In studies, intercourse is used as the gold standard. In real life, “sex” should be defined by each couple as they see fit. You have the freedom and the responsibility to decide what works for you as a couple. If you only count intercourse as sex, you’re heading towards a dead end.
5. Don’t keep score
It’s not about numbers. How many times did we have sex? Who initiated last time? Which one of you is winning the orgasm race? Intimacy is not a contest. It’s a language of its own. So put aside the numbers and learn how to communicate sensually, leave the scoreboard up to the Oakland colliseum.
6. Practice mindfulness
Like everything else, great sex happens in the moment. We release expectations. Past pleasures (and failures) become a memory. All the “what if” questions about the future can wait. Right here and right now, we are blessed to be experiencing magic.
Embrace the process
So, having a bad day, go make love to your husband. Tell him,”I’m having a bad day, make love to me, help me feel better, Drs orders!” Don’t wait until your always in the mood, or feeling happy. You can use sex as a tool for creating new emotions and shifting gears. Allow yourself to prescribe sex!
Both issues can be addressed at once but sometimes it’s also a delicate process. Working with a counselor helps simplify the steps. You have a mediator and an honest broker. Therapy is a safe space for discussion, disagreement, and problem-solving.