How Is Stress Impacting Your Sex Life?

The Magazine: How Is Stress Impacting Your Sex Life?

It’s a mid-pandemic weekday, where the days run together in a stream of Zoom calls. Despite religiously following my calendar, I have little sense of what day or month it is. I’m chewing my thumb, indulging in bad habits. My next move is the snack drawer. As I pull on the handle, I stop. Take a breath. There’s a better way than stuffing my face with sugar.

I head to my bedroom, where I keep my favorite vibrator. I head to xoafterglow.com to watch our latest video, Lip Service, and get busy. Minutes later, I take a sated breath. My heart rate has slowed, my body is tingling pleasantly, and my mind is focused. Problems that loomed huge an hour ago now seem smaller, surmountable. I’m ready to take on the day!

Sex and stress. They can either fuel or extinguish each other. Instead of letting stress dampen your sex life, use sex to dampen your stress life!

Desire as the self-care canary in the coal mine

When I’m stressed, my libido is the first thing to go. Stress can trigger the “fight, flight or freeze” survival mode, where non-essential functions are shut down - and yes, sex is one of these. In order to fight stress, cortisol production increases and sex hormones decrease. Paying attention to my libido helps me stop the stress cycle in its tracks, pause and take a break. I know that if I haven’t felt like getting frisky in a while, it’s time to cancel some plans and take time for a slow walk with my dog. Not feeling in the mood is a symptom of a larger issue. As a start-up founder, my stress can get so bad I’m not eating right and just buzzing in front of my computer. I’m looking at my email, but nothing’s actually getting done. Using The Daily CBD softgels puts me in that calm, focused mindset where I’m concentrating on what actually matters and not mindlessly scrolling social media. Staying in the right mental state is the best thing I can do for my company and my loved ones.

What do you do as your stress level increases? Try writing down the patterns you see. When stress sets in, mindfulness vanishes. Writing a list in advance allows you to stop stress in its tracks by recognizing it. Also - reframing the situation as challenging vs. threatening has been linked to better outcomes.

Sex as stress reducer

Sex relieves stress by releasing endorphins and oxytocin. Oxytocin is a hormone involved in sexual arousal, but also recognition, trust, and romantic attachmen. Oxytocin from sex relieves pain - everything from headaches to menstrual cramps. Move over, serotonin! Oxytocin has been called the “feel good hormone”and “cuddle chemical”.  C’mon, have you ever felt stressed after you have sex?

Orgasms help balance your immune system by releasing the chemical DHEA. Increased blood flow to the brain, increased estrogen and collagen production that literally makes you prettier - what’s not to like?  So next time you feel that anxiety creeping in, solve it with a little sexual healing, either with yourself or a partner.

Sex doesn’t have to be the priority

Most importantly, don’t get down on yourself just because you’re not feeling it one night. Screw perfectionism. We all have different phases of life. Whether you’re going through a breakup, finding a new pattern with kids, or pushing through a rough few weeks at work - go easy on yourself. It’s ok if sex isn’t the most important thing in your life.  There’s enough “You’re not good enough” crap in the world. Ignore it. Whether you want to have sex four times a day or once a year, don’t let anybody else tell you what’s right for you and your body. It’s normal for libido to fluctuate over time. And always, if you’re concerned you have a medical issue, check with your doctor.

Tips for sexy stress reduction

Sleep - this is my #1 stress reduction tip. Getting the right amount of sleep fosters attention and concentration, two key elements of good sex. There’s a reason for the “I can’t tonight, honey, I’m tired” trope...it’s because we’re actually tired!

Have alone time - whether your partnered or not, having time by yourself is grounding and restorative. Journal, take a bath, listen to music. Do what makes you feel centered and happy to be you.

Self-pleasure - another sensuous “alone time” move. When was the last time you switched up your self-pleasure routine and tried something new? xoafterglow.com has this amazing guided masturbation (for vulva owners) that will light you up in ways you never thought possible.

Focused time with your partner - There’s being in the same physical space, and then there’s being together. Staring into one another’s eyes. Expressing love, appreciation, affection. Try a little flirting,even if you’ve been together for years.

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