Many people think that stress is easy to ignore or get over. Unfortunately, this is not the case. When we are stressed, our bodies actually go through a series of changes that trigger our fight-or-flight response. This can include increased heart and breathing rate, taking priority away from the less essential functions — such as our sex drive.
Stress brings about psychological and physiological changes that can affect how our minds and bodies perceive the world around us. Physiologically, when we are stressed, this means that our bodies produce higher levels of cortisol which can decrease our sex drive. Psychologically, we tend to be more distracted and frazzled when stressed, making it harder to focus on or even desire intimacy or sex.
How to Talk to Your Partner
Talking to your partner about your sexual desires (or lack of them) can be scary. Especially if you haven’t talked about these things much in the past. But, the last thing you want is for your partner to be confused or hurt, thinking that you do not want to be intimate with them because of something they did. To avoid miscommunication, it is best to simply come out and talk about what is going on in your life with your partner — yes, even if it is awkward.
Here are some tips to help you start this conversation if you’re unsure where to begin.
- Tell your partner that you want to talk about your sex life with them and create a comfortable and neutral space to do so.
- Don’t bring up the topic when either of you is in a rush or upset about something.
- Be honest and open about what is going on.
- Listen to what your partner has to say too.
- Ask open-ended questions during the conversation, so it is a space for both of you to speak your piece.
- Do not let the conversation get too intense. If things are getting more emotional than you feel comfortable, take a break and return to it later.
- Do some calming exercises or controlled breathing before the conversation, so you are calm and collected going into it.
What to Do
After you’ve talked about how stress is affecting your sex life, you may be wondering what you can do to relieve stress and get back to the sex life that you and your partner are both happy with. Luckily, just because stress is affecting your sex drive right now does not mean that you can’t change it and regain some or all of the libido you had before your life became this stressful.
Here are some tips to help you minimize stress and allow yourself to enjoy being intimate with your partner again.
Recognize Your Sex Drive May Fluctuate
First things first, your sex drive may fluctuate over your life. You may not be as enthused about sex or sexual activities as you were 5 years ago. You may be more enthused about sex now than you were in your last relationship. Maybe last month you had a really high sex drive, and this month you just don’t. Our sex drive is influenced by many factors and will naturally fluctuate throughout our lives. This said, if you feel like you aren’t happy with where your sex life is currently or you feel too stressed to prioritize intimacy with your partner, it might be time to look into some of the following tips.
Try Stress Management Techniques
Everyone responds to stress differently. And similarly, everyone finds different stress management techniques more effective than others. Maybe the best way for you to de-stress is to do some yoga or meditation. Maybe you need a nice warm bath or a massage to melt your stress away. Perhaps you’re a fan of journaling or doing art to release your stress in a more creative way.
No matter what you do to relieve stress, that activity or technique is the best place for you to start. If you don’t know what helps you relieve stress, now is a good time to start experimenting! If you still aren’t sure what is working or not working to help you reduce stress, you may want to consult a therapist or other mental health professional who can give you more personalized guidance — but more on that later.
The next tip is to get your body moving. Exercise does wonders for both your physical and mental health. Whether you decide to go for a quick jog around the block after your meeting, hit the weight room after a particularly taxing day at the office, or even go on a relaxing evening walk with your partner after dinner, exercise is a great way to get stress out of your system. When you get your endorphins flowing, your body is much less likely to stay in that fight-or-flight mentality, and you can reduce your stress in that way.
Take Some Extra Time for Self-Care
The simple truth is that you are not going to feel good about having sex or being in any way intimate with your partner if you do not feel good about yourself. Unfortunately, many of us put ourselves on the back burner in our lives and forget to prioritize our needs. Self-care can be many things. It can be ensuring you eat good, healthy meals or getting at least 8 hours of restful sleep at night. It could also be having an evening routine or morning ritual where you drink a cup of tea and do a crossword puzzle, paint, draw, journal, or do any other of your favorite activities.
The point is to actively make time for yourself and your thoughts — especially if you are feeling stressed.
Tackle the Issues Together
You and your partner are a team. Together, you can tackle any problems that come your way — even when they feel awkward to talk about. So, let your partner in on what you are doing. Maybe they can help relieve your stress by simply being there with you. Maybe you can exercise, journal, or have a relaxing spa session together. Once you have gotten through whatever is stressing you out, you may find your bond stronger from working together to address the issue.
Focus on Touch
If you go into a situation thinking only about the end goal (for example, sex with your partner), you can actually end up stressing yourself out before you even get there — especially if your brain is already preoccupied with things that are stressing you out. Luckily, there is an easy fix to this issue. Focus on what you are feeling — not what you are trying to do. Physical touch is actually an incredibly effective stress reliever. Think about how amazing it is to get a hug from a loved one when you’re worried about something or even how nice it is when your partner holds your hand when you’re telling them about the stressful day you had.
So, rather than focusing on being intimate or having sex, focus on the calming and safe sensations you feel when your partner touches you. Bonus on this one, focusing on touch can also increase your desire for closeness, intimacy, and, eventually, sex as well.
Talk to a Therapist
If you have already tried the tips mentioned above and still feel too stressed to have sex, or you simply want more help on knowing where to start when it comes to relieving stress, you might want to consider reaching out to a therapist. Therapy is an incredible tool that helps people of all ages and backgrounds to feel more content and satisfied with their lives and relationships. If you are feeling overwhelmed, it can be nearly impossible to enjoy your relationship in the way you want. Therapy can help you discover the tools and techniques you need to overcome unwanted stress and enjoy your life and your relationship how you’d like to.
So, if you would like more personalized advice on relieving stress in your life, please do not hesitate to reach out to us today at Love Heal Grow!