If your (lack of a) sex life has become one of the myriad of things you’re stressed out about, stop beating yourself up for wondering what’s wrong with you for having lost interest. For starters, you’re not alone.
A recent study showed that more than half of Americans are more stressed out than they were a year ago. And 62% of them said they weren’t having enough sex. Coincidence? No way. Biologically speaking, there is a clear connection between high stress and a lagging libido. The good news is, you can alleviate some of the strain that’s got your desire drooping.
The biology of stress
When stress spikes, so does cortisol. In addition to all the helpful things that our primary stress hormone does, it also curbs functions that would be nonessential or detrimental in a fight-or-flight situation. All fine and dandy in the short-term, but prolonged stress will do anything but leave you relaxed, nevermind randy! In fact, it’ll render you quite the opposite.
Extended periods of heightened cortisol will alter immune system responses (so you get sick more easily and with greater intensity) and suppress the digestive and reproductive systems. Who feels sexy when their estrogen and testosterone (sex hormones) are all over the place and their digestive system isn’t working? Here’s a hint: no one. And odds are, the way you’re trying to alleviate the problem is only making it worse.
Are comforts causes?
Asked what their top ways for alleviating increased stress were, those same participants in the aforementioned study listed eating comfort foods and watching TV as their “go-to” get better behaviors. No wonder nobody’s doing it (or feeling better)!
While there is little we can do to control some of the external factors we’re all facing at the moment (stagnating or disappearing savings and mortgages, high unemployment and increasingly expensive health care for instance), the way we treat our bodies plays a role in how those bodies respond to the stress. Eating right, exercising regularly, thinking positive and taking time to breathe in peace and quiet (meditation, yoga or even just taking five interruption-free minutes to center at the start and finish of each day), will help stabilize our systems, focus our energy and lower our cortisol.
Fatty, salty, starchy or sugary foods, burning the candle at both ends, indulging in hopelessness and spending our little free time laying around in front of the TV (or Internet), will only complicate matters and increase depression.
Why sex should be a priority
So now that you know all the reasons you don’t feel like doing the deed (and you’re willing to take steps to boost your libido), you’re on your way to feeling like your sexy self again. In the meantime, while you wait for your sex drive to improve, here’s the reason you should fake it til you make it!
Sex, in and of itself, helps to reduce stress. Not only does it foster a deeper connection between you and your partner, but it leaves you both abuzz with soothing hormones that help calm your nerves and inspire you in other ways.
And these days more than ever, who couldn’t use a little of that?