In sad but true news, all those daily stressorsÃ¢â‚¬”from issues at work to a hefty electric billÃ¢â‚¬”might be screwing with your sex life. When watching an erotic film, highly stressed women are more distracted and have lower levels of physical arousal than women with normal amounts of stress, according to a recent study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine.
To test how anxiety impacts your libido, researchers measured genital arousal, self-reported arousal, and distraction in 30 women as they each watched an erotic film. Turns out, the high-stress group said they were turned on, but their bodies showed lower levels of genital arousal. Translation: Even though they may have wanted to think sexy thoughts, their bodies werenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t cooperatingÃ¢â‚¬”probably because they were too distracted.
Too much stress can make it almost impossible to think about sex and arousal, which leads to not much going on down below. Ã¢â‚¬Å“What we found when we controlled for all other variables was that distraction was the biggest predictor of low levels of arousal,Ã¢â‚¬Â says lead study author Lisa Dawn Hamilton, PhD, assistant professor of psychology at Mount Allison University in New Brunswick, Canada.
While the best antidote would be to reduce your tension, thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not always possible. Luckily, you can still have great sex when youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re stressedÃ¢â‚¬”just use these six expert-approved techniques:
Take Better Breaths Proper breathing is crucial for an orgasm, says sex educator Yvonne Fulbright, PhD, author of The Better Sex Guide to Extraordinary Lovemaking. Ã¢â‚¬Å“It improves circulation, enhancing your sexual responsiveness and sensations.Ã¢â‚¬Â Sounds amazing, right? Before you have sex, use diaphragmatic breathing to help you relax, suggests Fulbright. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat. Let go of all your thoughts as you breathe through your nose and out your mouth, then put one hand on your belly and focus on your abdomen rising and falling. And if you find yourself getting distracted during sex, get back on track by focusing on breathing deeply through your diaphragm again.
Slow Down Foreplay When youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re stressed, a quickie might seem like the simplest optionÃ¢â‚¬”but it probably wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be the most satisfying. Instead, incorporate some wind-down routines into your pregame, like giving each other massages or taking a hot shower together, says Fulbright. But hereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the catch: DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t look at this as simply the prelude to the main event. Unwinding together and making that the focus of your attentionÃ¢â‚¬”rather than the sex youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re anticipating havingÃ¢â‚¬”takes the pressure off both of you so you can really enjoy the sensations, says Fulbright. Plus, relieving your stress early on will increase your chances of having an orgasm later in the night.
Get Your Heart Pumping Stop ending your stressful days in front of the TV and go for a short walk instead, says Fulbright. YouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re still giving yourself time to mentally check out from work, but youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re also getting your heart rate up, which will give you the temporary boost of energy that you need to get in the mood.
Reach for the Lube Too much anxiety can leave you drier than the desertÃ¢â‚¬”even when youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re mentally turned onÃ¢â‚¬”which sends a signal to your brain that youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re not in the mood, says Fulbright. But you can remedy that with a few drops of lube. Grab it as soon as you start getting busy so you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have the chance the get discouraged by dryness. Ã¢â‚¬Å“A couple of drops will relax you and take the pressure off,Ã¢â‚¬Â says Fulbright.
Focus on What Feels Good ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s impossible to totally turn off your mind during sex, but you can train yourself to hone in on your sensations rather than thoughts on tomorrowÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s big presentation. Research shows that practicing mindfulness in the bedroomÃ¢â‚¬”paying attention to what youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re feeling right now and letting other distracting thoughts slip byÃ¢â‚¬”can help you get and stay aroused, says Hamilton.
Pencil It In Scheduling sex might seem like the least sexy thing ever, but it can be your best bet for zero-distraction pleasure. Ã¢â‚¬Å“If youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re scheduling it, youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re making it a priority. YouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re free at that time and you know you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have to worry about those other things,Ã¢â‚¬Â says Hamilton. So even if you both only have a half hour to spare, put everything else aside and make it count!
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