Stress is something that a lot of people find hard to manage or cope with. It hinders everything from daily activities to even a person’s sexual drive. Stress, it doesn’t matter what kind, has a tendency to push people over the edge. It also makes people irritable, anxious and upset. It is particularly notorious for killing sex drives. Imagine yourself in bed with your significant other. Things are heating up and you’re kissing your partner. But, boom. The stress avalanche hits you and the sweatiness that you are suddenly experiencing is not from the sex anymore. It’s your work-life looming over your head. Next thing you know, you’re stressed beyond the limit. You feel it in your body and soul and you’re thinking about going in early next morning to finish your work. This is never a nice thing to experience.
Stress and your sex life
Sex is a very important aspect of relationships and having a good sex life can help in a significant way. This also puts unnecessary strain on your relationship. It’s true that not all people suffer from this, but a large number of people definitely do. Some people know how to deal with stress in healthy ways. They know how to compartmentalise. They keep their work-life separate and are able to leave their work responsibilities at work. But there are a lot of people who are not able to do the same. This completely consumes their mind, at all hours of the day, and in totally inappropriate situations. When stressed, it’s very hard to think about anything else. Sex also unintentionally ends up on the same back burner.
Studies have shown that a person’s sex drive is related to stress. Stress hormones released by the body are linked to a person’s sex drive directly. More stress leads to more of these hormones and this lowers a person’s sex drive. A reduced sex drive isn’t the only effect. It can also lead to a lot of other symptoms. Fatigue, upset stomach, headaches and insomnia are just some of these symptoms.
Rachel O’Neill, Ph.D., talks about this same problem. “When you’re stressed, you may feel physically unwell. You may not feel much responsive or spontaneous desire for sex. It’s also possible that you may simply feel like sex is one more thing that you need to add to your to-do list. All of these things can contribute to a general feeling of overall unsexiness and disinterest in sexual activity,” she says.
How to destress
One way to successfully destress is by doing it so mindfully. It’s beneficial to take some time to purposefully de-stress before sex.
O’Neill says, “Try to have some sort of clear demarcation between a stress-filled day and the rest of your day. For example, if you’ve had a stressful workday, try to take a bit of time to decompress from that before transitioning into the next part of your day. That could be something as simple as a shower or a bath, or maybe just a few minutes of calm and focused breathing.”
This extra few minutes of self-care makes all the difference in the world. Another thing that will help is doing something that you like doing. Something that’ll bring down stress levels and simply make you feel good. Even if you take sex out of the picture, this will most definitely at least help your daily routine.
O’Neill talks about how this can be coupled with foreplay and states, “The use of massage or paired breathing techniques can be a great way to make stress relief something you do together, and it might serve as a precursor to ramping up that sexual desire!”
Communication is also highly important. If you’re feeling sexual pressure and are unable to destress properly or perform in bed, let your partner know!
Mindfulness is basically the state of being fully present in a moment. One can use this to prevent their mind from wandering onto unrelated topics. Various studies have proven that mindfulness can reduce stress and anxiety. This works both in the bedroom and in your life, in general.
O’Neill recommends taking mindful pauses throughout the day. She recommends taking time for yourself to breathe. Observe your own physical nature and mental nature. She states, “You can incorporate mindfulness during sexual activity, too. The use of mindfulness practices during sex really allows you to be fully immersed in the experience — which means those intrusive thoughts or worries or concerns that have happened throughout the day are not at the forefront of your mind and thus, aren’t standing in the way of you experiencing pleasure.”
Lastly, O’Neill states that knowing when to seek help is very important. She says, “If it feels like trying to facilitate stress reduction or mindfulness on your own hasn’t been super successful, it could be a good invitation to seek out some professional help. Also, if you’re really feeling stuck in your ability to enjoy sex, find time for sex, or just feel connected during sexual activity then it can be just a great opportunity to talk about it with a mental health professional.”