4. Sex, Stress and a Busy Lifestyle - Sexponential
Busyness+stress+lack of sleep=a low sex drive. It’s not hard maths, but it’s a biological truth. Sometimes we don’t have time for sex because we have so many competing priorities. Anyone with young children knows that your sex life can suffer simply because you’re so tired from lack of sleep and caring for a little human that sex is literally the last thing you want. Equally, a busy period at work, a bereavement, moving house or any number of life events can cause us to feel stressed out. And our desire plummets. It comes to the end of the day, sex is inevitably the last thing on our to-do list, and we’re just too exhausted or can’t attempt to get going, because it feels like effort. And this pattern becomes a cycle in which sex just isn’t a priority. First thing first- this IS TOTALLY NORMAL AND OK. Our natural response to stress, busyness, lack of sleep and time is to close down our desire. So you’re normal in not desiring sex. Listen to yourself and your body and hear that you’re not wanting sex at the moment. Know that THERE IS A VERY VALID REASON AS TO WHY. I blamed myself, felt awful, unnatural, broken, when my desire packed up. However, in reflection of what I know now, that was a totally human response to intense stress. My problem was I just never really bounced back as quickly as I thought I would when the stress was over, because my body, mind and lifestyle were running in a high gear and I just couldn’t bring them down without some work. For some of us, stress just becomes the familiar weight we carry around with us everyday, and sometimes we need a reminder of how to set it down, look up, and enjoy ourselves instead. It’s not an easy road to reducing stress, but know that it’s totally worth it. This is one of those lifelong seesaws where you’ll juggle this throughout your journey through work, kids, marriage, buying houses etc. However, being aware of the impact of stress and a busy life, and having some coping strategies to manage, will help you keep a healthy balance. So, my tips to reduce stress, fix a busy lifestyle and re-prioritize sex? Step one: recognise the warning signs One of the things that I discovered early on was that I got extremely irritated when my partner tried touching me in a way that I knew he was initiating sex. Read this post on warning signs that you’re too busy/tired for sex, and how you can use these as pointers towards new patterns of behaviour that change the dynamic of control between you. Step two: make the decision to prioritize you So, here’s the bad news. There is no quick fix solution I can give you if there’s no time in your life for sex. I think you already know this. It’s not rocket science. YOU have to decide you WANT a good sex drive, and commit to improving it. I realised this early on- you can read more about the stages I went through here to see if this resonates with you? And that commitment means dedicating time to take care of yourself, and then, to bring sex back up your priority list. That means saying no, blocking out time just for you, cutting out unnecessary activities, culling people, things, events that don’t serve you anymore. This IS a lifestyle change, and that’s why it feels tough. It’s a wake up call from your body. It’s trying to tell you to live more, work/worry less. No-one else can do this for you, only YOU can commit to improving your sex drive. This isn’t about you having sex for your partner. It’s about you taking responsibility for your health. It’s prioritizing your pleasure. You deserve good sex, and the beginning step is to start taking care of yourself. When I started shifting my priorities and making time for sex, I found my desire peaked! Previously sex was: a chore a bore just another thing on the to-do list And a long long time I couldn’t focus on sex because it felt like EVERYTHING needing doing: the washing, the bills, phoning my Mum… But, I suddenly realised that I needed doing too! Sex is an amazing stress reliever. It can bring you closer to your intimate partner, help you be present, let loose, and is a great form of exercise. And remember, it used to be fun? Read the blog on seven ways to reframe sex so it becomes essential to your everyday wellbeing for more advice on why looking after yourself is worth it (and what sex can do for you!) and how sexual self-care is key for your sex drive. I also love this article about making sure you prioritise it for you, not your partner. So step three- understand the impact of stress. Stress and busyness increases cortisol levels, which have an evolutionary duty to stop our sex drives. So reducing stress levels are a must if you want your sex drive to improve. Read the section of the blog on stress here to find out more about why this is and what you can do to override your stress response mechanism. Step four: share the chores Know that it’s likely there might be additional stress in your life sadly just because you’re a woman! This might be taking a bigger share of the washing, cooking, cleaning, caring…. check out this article on the “mental load” many women carry. Consider how sharing the chores might free up more of your time and headspace to enjoy (and eventually pursue) sex. Step five- sleep. It’s restorative! Because we’re all working, socialising, worrying about money, raising children, when is there even time for sleep let alone sex? Sleep is your friend, and sleep means you’ll be more perky and in the mood for sex when it happens. Allow yourself time to sleep- go to bed earlier if you need to, get a babysitter and just snooze out. Do what you need to do to get those priceless ZZZs. Read more here about WHY sleep is so important, and how without it, your sex drive will naturally shut down. Step six: Turn off the turns offs A great way of doing this is to look at your lifestyle and consider all of the things that make you feel unsexy or that turn off your sex drive. Step seven: Put your relationship on the agenda- not sex. Re-prioritising sex doesn’t necessarily involve scheduling in sex, or “just doing it”. Read my opinion on scheduling sex here (TLDR: I think it’s terrible advice). We don’t want *more* bad sex. We want good quality, even if the frequency still isn’t something you’re both happy with. It’s only going to be good if it feels good and you actually want to have it. Instead of scheduling in actual sex, instead either schedule in time to think about sex, or use the time you’ve planned in as a date night. Think intimacy instead of full on sex. Your libido is like a boiler- if you keep it on low all of the time (and fuel it through kisses, cuddles, closeness) it’ll be more likely to be ready to fire up when you need it. Step eight: sex before breakfast? Often we can’t be bothered to have sex because we’re doing it at the end of everyday when we’re knackered. A busy lifestyle means sex falls to the bottom of the priority list (aka at the end of each day), which means a red light for intimacy and pleasure. For many relationships as time goes on, this can become the norm. So if this you, know that you’re in good company. So if you really want to prioritise it, try it at different times! Do it before brekkie, in the middle of the day, early evening- basically any time you want (BUT ONLY WHEN YOU WANT TO) except at the end of the day. Step nine: Mindful Sensuality? I knew that learning how to bring down my day from crazy, hectic and adrenaline spiked-coffee fuelled chaos to a calm, relaxed state where I was in tune with my body and environment was going to be important. So I looked at practising mindfulness and thinking about how sensuality came in. This proved marvellous, as you’ll discover if you click the links. Hopefully that’s been helpful. Do you have any tips to share for how to reduce stress and re-prioritise sex? Love, L xxx *** Of course, health and hormones play a huge factor, and if you’re concerned then seeing a specialist is crucial or check out my section of the blog on health.