Ask Robin: "Can Sex Help to Relieve Exam Stress?"
I've got my finals coming up and I'm feeling a little bit stressed out! To be honest, the last thing on my mind is sex – I'm just way too distracted and so is my girlfriend. Some of my friends say sex makes them feel less anxious, and helps them get to sleep. So should we be making more of an effort?
First of all – try not to worry! Not feeling in the mood for sex right now is totally normal. Lots of people find stress negatively affects their sex drive, and studying is bound to swallow up lots of the carefree spare time you and your girlfriend spent together when exams weren't on the horizon.
The sex-stress link works both ways. So while being stressed can make you lose interest in sex, getting it on is a seriously effective stress-reliever. This is down to endorphins and other mood-boosting hormones which are released during sex. One of these is oxytocin, which is released during skin-to-skin contact (whether you have an orgasm or not) and promotes a feeling of connection and trust. It also helps your body combat cortisol, the main stress hormone.
If you want to reconnect with your partner and reduce stress while you're at it, my advice is to set plenty of time aside so you're not watching the clock. Take the pressure off the end result (aka, the orgasm) and enjoy light-hearted, lingering foreplay.
"Massage is a really great way to connect,
with the focus on pleasure and relaxation"
Massage is a really great way to connect physically, with the focus on pleasure and relaxation, not necessarily sex. Games like Monogamy can bring the fun back, especially if you've been feeling like you need to reconnect. Create a soothing space where you can escape from studying for a couple of hours – if you're feeling more chilled out you may find that sex naturally follows, anyway.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, orgasms release the hormone prolactin, which gives you that sleepy, post-sex feeling that can make you drift off mid-sentence. Plus, sex boosts oestrogen levels for women, which enhances the REM stage, and leads to deeper slumber. If you're sleeping better in general, you should feel refreshed and ready to face the day – and any studying you need to do.
If you really don't feel like sex, don't panic. Your sex drive is unlikely to disappear forever, and you can always pick things up when exams are over and you've got more time and headspace. What's important is keeping that connection and intimacy, so set aside some time in your schedule and spend it catching up – in whatever way feels right in the moment. That could mean eating dinner together, watching a film or spending the morning in bed instead of getting straight up and heading to the library.
Single and feeling stressed out? Masturbation has many of the same stress-relieving benefits as sex, and it's also a pretty great way to show yourself some TLC when you've been studying for hours. If you've spent all day revising in your PJs, you may not feel like a ménage a moi. Help yourself get in the mood by running yourself a bath, putting on some music, dimming the lights and focusing on your body and its responses. The same applies if you just don't feel like it, though... you'll soon get back into the swing of things after exams!
4 Ideas for Reducing Stress
Relax with soothing massage and relaxed, sensual foreplay.