If so far you’ve not managed to take advantage of coronavirus lockdown by indulging in lots more partnered sex or masturbation, you’re probably not alone. Right now we are in unprecedented times, when panic, anxiety and/or stress are being experienced by most of us to some degree. For many people that’s going to result in lower libido.
As Xanet Pailet, sex and intimacy coach and author of Living An Orgasmic Life Says says,
“Without a doubt, stress is the number one factor that impacts our desire for sex. Orgasm happens at the intersection of high arousal and high relaxation, which is virtually impossible to achieve when we are experiencing fear and anxiety. Continuous anxiety, which we are all experiencing in this time, shuts down our arousal system. We may want to just get under the covers and hide, we feel ungrounded, not present and unable to relax. Sex becomes the last thing on our minds because we are all in survival mode.’’
What’s Going On Hormonally
In a situation where we perceive danger, the body focuses on releasing the fight and flight hormones to prepare the body to take on the danger. This means that there are lower levels of the hormones responsible for sexual arousal. So, in this state you may be more likely to rush to the shops to stock up on supplies than disappear into the bedroom.
The paradox is, however, that if we can get in the mood and enjoy sex, then the feel-good hormones that get released such as oxytocin can boost the immune system, make us feel happier, more relaxed and less fearful. So what can we do?
During this time self-care is more important than ever. Anything that you can do to relax is going to help to boost your sex life. Star your day with a relaxing yoga session, try some slow relaxed breathing, or look at some meditation apps. Spend time reading rather than scrolling through Facebook, and take a long walk in the peace outside (while keeping your distance from everyone of course).
Pailet says: “A great first step is to make sure you’re practicing lots of self care that involves sensual pleasure. This could be taking a bubble bath, massaging your body with lotion, walking in nature and smelling flowers, or lighting candles and essential oils. To get back in touch with your sexual self, you want to activate the senses and pleasure centres in the body. Finding some time during the week for a self touch session, which need not include genitals, will help keep your libido alive.’’
Focus On Your Pelvis
As you go about your day, tune in and notice how your pelvic region feels. If you’re feeling stressed then most likely you’re tensing your muscles, which constricts blood flow and thus sexual energy. Consciously relax the muscles and let your pelvis sink down. The anal area tightens up under stress, so bring your focus here and relax your anus too.
This can be a helpful exercise to try while sitting at your desk working. You could put on a timer to go off every hour to remind yourself to focus on how your body is feeling.
Try this simple breathing first thing in the morning or to throughout the day. Take a long slow inhale, and bring your breath all the way down to your pelvic area so your pelvic floor and belly expand on the inhale, and relax on the exhale. Take long circular, continuous breaths, without pausing between the inbreath and the outbreath.
Practitioners of tantric sex are all about using the breath to build sexual energy. We can take a leaf out of their book and use it to slowly soothe ourselves, and cultivate sexual energy gently rather than diving right in to full-on penetrative sex. This way we can de-stress and let go of tension, and slowly allow arousal to build.
Sexuality teachers across the globe are putting amazing resources online. For example Laurie Handlers’ Extraordinary Lovers, Mangala Holland’s free workshop The Three Keys To Sexual Confidence And Epic Pleasure, Shakti Tantra’s latest offerings, those from queer tantra icon Barbara Carrellas, and Rebecca Lowrie’s Embracing Your Inner Lover online course starting 30 March.
Stay Informed But Not Overloaded
During this time of global pandemic we all need to stay informed, and make sure we understand what precautions to take to keep ourselves and each other safe, and what rules apply in our area around lockdown and social distancing.
However being overloaded with information, being sent pm’s by well-meaning friends with coronavirus cures and news articles is going to affect your stress levels and libido. Another aspect of communicating with others is that we pick up on their anxiety levels too.
Pailet says: “Our nervous systems are like tuning forks. They literally feel the energy of other nervous systems in the room, on the screen etc. So if there is generalized fear and panic, your nervous system will respond to the fear and panic of others, further sapping your desire for sex. On the other hand, if you and your partner can stay present, calm, and grounded, you will feed each other’s nervous system in a healthy and positive way, which will allow intimacy to happen.’’
Try this as an experiment. Spend a few moments consciously scanning your body to notice how it feels. If you find any tension try to consciously relax muscles, while breathing slowly and deeply expanding your belly and pelvis on the inhale, and relaxing it on the exhale.
Now turn on a news site, and notice how your body reacts as you read and look at photographs about the pandemic.
Now, put limits on social media and news input. Ask friends not to pm you links to news or conspiracies. Clear boundaries will allow you to take back control of your nervous system, and your ability to relax.
If you live with your partner then don’t abandon your own personal masturbation. If both of you are climbing the walls then you might benefit from some alone time before trying to connect together again.
However you spend these next few weeks, the most important thing is to listen to your body, and let go of all expectations. It may not be the time of your life for erotic bliss, but who knows?! By tuning in to what your body needs you may find moments of pleasure which are the perfect antidote to anxiety and fear.