Sex and Relaxation - How to Banish Stress and Maximise Pleasure
Sex and relaxation go hand-in-hand, right? When we're relaxed it's easy to get in the mood for sex, and when sex is on the table (both literally and figuratively) we feel relaxed.
If only it were that simple! Sometimes we feel too stressed out to have sex, and sometimes the thought of having sex itself can be what stresses us out.
But that's where Lovehoney comes in – we're here to help you on both fronts! Let's show you how sex can help you relax, and how you can relax enough for sex.
You'd probably rather get between the sheets with your significant other than trudge down to the gym for a workout – but sex and a stint on the treadmill have more in common than you think.
Just like other forms of exercise, having sex releases endorphins and other mood-boosting hormones.
Studies have shown that having sex or masturbating during stressful periods can even prevent increases in blood pressure.
Get off (to sleep)
Trouble sleeping? Stop counting sheep and try getting your freak on instead! During orgasm the brain releases prolactin. This hormone is designed to relax and ready us for sleep, so it's no wonder we want to hit the hay after a big shagging session.
The great news is that it works both ways. If you find that your libido is lacking, getting more sleep can help boost your sexual desire.
Accentuate the positive
If you're feeling stressed out, pessimistic, and as though you couldn't look on the bright side of life even if someone paid you – you could always try humping that negative into a positive.
Sex is a mood booster in more ways than one. The hormones your brain releases during pleasurable sex can result in a change in disposition, and we tend to be in good spirits after having a good roll in the hay with someone we feel strongly about.
The next time you and your partner are feeling the pressure and get into a spat, it may help to remember this particularly study.
This 2017 experiment saw newlywed couples keep a two-week sexual diary. The researchers found that the couples experienced satisfaction for a full two days after they'd had sex, and that those couples who felt this long-lasting contentment went on to report further satisfaction months after the two weeks had elapsed.
For many people, especially lovers of role play or BDSM, sex can be a form of blissful escapism (if you've always wanted to try raunchy role play, tune in to this Lovehoney podcast episode).
Turning off that 9-to-5 part of your brain and just losing yourself in the moment can give you a much-needed break from the demands of everyday life.
When you've finished a sizzling session in the sack, and your role as resident Dom or sex sub has ended, you may find that your problems have been put into perspective.
Time for bed
Getting enough shut eye is crucial for your health, and it benefits your sex life too. Having good quality sleep reduces your overall stress levels and helps keep your immune system strong.
If you're feeling run-down and strung out the thought of having sex might not be appealing at all – in fact, it might only succeed in stressing you out more! So, make sure you're getting at least eight hours a night.
When the idea of sex triggers a stress response rather than arousal, it can because everything is moving a little too quickly. Put your foot on the brakes and spend some time setting the mood instead.
Compile your favourite jams and make a sex soundtrack, or ask your lover to give you a massage. The massage doesn't have to be an erotic one. Just giving some of the muscles in your shoulders or back a good rub will help you transition to a relaxed state of mind.
All about the journey
We can get so caught up in orgasms being 'the goal' that we can end up putting unrealistic expectations on ourselves or our partner. When we focus too intently on reaching the Big O, we take all the joy out of sex and all that remains is performance anxiety and pressure.
By turning your attention to your breath, you reconnect with what's going on in the moment rather than self-sabotaging yourself with intrusive thoughts. Read 8 Sexy Things You Can Do (That Don't Need an Orgasm to Be Fun) – we bet you come up with more!
If sex has been painful for you in the past, whether that be physically or emotionally, you may feel apprehensive about doing the deed again, and that's completely logical. When an action causes us pain or trauma, the brain instinctively warns us not to do that action again. We experience a 'flight or fight' response, where either our muscles tense up in preparation to fight off danger or we get ready to flee the scene altogether.
In a state like this, it becomes impossible to relax and enjoy sex. For those who find that sex tends to hurt, check out What To Do When Sex Is Painful. If sex has ever been traumatic for you, you may find How Can You Become Sexually Happy Again After Sexual Trauma helpful.
Everyone will have days when they feel too stressed to have sex, and sometimes the thought of having sex might stress you out. What's important to know is that no one should have to put up with feeling this way 24/7, and that there are steps you can take to make sex a relaxing experience from start to finish.
Audrey Andrews is a student blogger for Lovehoney. In her spare time she loves to do craft, but would not advise knitting your own condoms.
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