Peace & Pleasure: How to Reduce Stress and Increase Sex Drive

calm ethnic woman waving with short hair

Does sex help with stress? It depends.

The rumors are true: stress and sex drive are deeply intertwined.

However, sex may not reduce stress in the ways you think.

While sex can relieve mild stress, chronic stress and anxiety are some of the most common causes of low libido.

If the only reason you’re having sex is to relieve stress…you’re missing out!

There are so many fantastic ways to experience sex when you’re not stressed.

To cover all the possibilities, I’ve decided to do a special post. This one is all about how to naturally reduce stress and anxiety so you can have the hot sex you deserve and desire.

I’ll dive into my 3-step Peace and Pleasure Process in a moment. First, let’s get the facts on stress and sex drive.

What is stress?

woman sitting by lake

According to the World Health Organization:

“Stress can be defined as a state of worry or mental tension caused by a difficult situation. Stress is a natural human response that prompts us to address challenges and threats in our lives.”

On its own and in manageable amounts, stress is simply a part of the human experience. In situations of ongoing stress, however, health conditions can emerge or become worse.

Ongoing stress is known as chronic stress.

According to Mayo Clinic, chronic stress can cause or exacerbate many health conditions. These include:

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • digestive problems
  • headaches
  • muscle tension and pain
  • heart disease, heart attack, high blood pressure and stroke
  • sleep problems
  • weight gain
  • memory and concentration impairment

With stress tied to so many parts of our health, it’s important that we look for ways to naturally reduce stress in our day-to-day lives. Stress management is crucial not only to our sex lives but also to our overall well-being.

How are stress and sex drive related?

two women lying in bed having a misunderstanding

Does sex help with stress?

It depends.

In a temporary stressful situation, sex can absolutely reduce and relieve stress. When we’re experiencing chronic stress, however, things change.

During periods of chronic stress or anxiety, our levels of stress hormones like cortisol rise. Meanwhile, our estrogen and testosterone production drops.

This is a libido catastrophe! Not only are we stressed and potentially experiencing health issues, but the hormones our sex drive depends on are no longer available.

Having sex might momentarily boost your mood in this situation. Unfortunately, the larger problem will persist.

How do we reclaim balance? Here are my 3 steps to naturally reduce stress and increase sex drive:

Step 1: Recognize Limits, Reduce Stress

serious black woman standing with raised arm in room with pink illumination

Overwhelmingly, the people I talk to about low sex drive and stress can radically change their lives by recognizing and honoring their personal limits.

personal limit: where your tolerance for something ends; the point at which providing something becomes uncomfortable

Examples of personal limits include not answering work-related calls after 5pm or not welcoming uninvited guests into your home.

Having limits is not a shortcoming or failure. Limits simply exist. We all have them, and they are unique to each of us.

They also are less flexible than many people tend to think.

Chronic stress is especially common in women and others who learned to ignore their limits in favor of other people’s comfort. Over time, extending beyond one’s limits lowers libido.

Think about the last time you felt like you were at your limit.

I’m not talking about your total breakdown, crying-in-the-bathroom limit or any traumas you’ve experienced. Those are situations in which you are are way past your limit.

I’m talking about the last time…

  • someone asked you to do something and you said yes, then kind of wished you’d said no
  • an unexpected event created more work for you, but you didn’t want to inconvenience anyone by asking for help
  • you thought, “I’m getting uncomfortable, but I’m not sure how to bring it up…or if I even should.”

These are examples of your mind and body communicating your personal limits to you.

Take a moment to think about what these moments feel like. What do you feel in your body? What thoughts go through your head?

The next time you feel these feelings or have these thoughts, try to notice them. It may take a few tries before you get the hang of it. It gets easier with practice.

Then? Start honoring those limits. Whenever possible, say no to the thing your mind and body tell you to say no to. Ask for help when unexpected events create strain. Say, “I’m uncomfortable” when you’re uncomfortable.

Bit by bit, you’ll chip away at stress and start making room for peace.

Join the Sensually Sourced Community and access your Peace & Pleasure Cheatsheet. It’s your quick guide to replacing stress with sensuality.

Step 2: Claim Peace with Compassion

man and woman sitting together in front of table

Claiming your peace is all about compassionately enforcing limits around your personal resources.

personal resource: things you have a finite amount of—such as time, energy, money, attention, personal space, professional experience, etc.

Enforcing limits means:

  • recognizing when a person or situation is demanding more of a personal resource than you can comfortably give, and
  • declining to provide it if doing so won’t cause serious harm.

Many people struggle to enforce limits with loved ones or others who influence their lives. It’s tempting to self-sacrifice in the name of their happiness or to “keep the peace”.

Remember, chronic stress can lead to serious health conditions. Heart conditions aren’t peaceful…or sexy.

At your own pace, take tiny steps to enforce your limits when you can. A really helpful template to use here is an I-Statement:

“I feel [feeling] when [behavior or event]. If it continues, I will [withdraw this personal resource].”

For example:

“I feel overwhelmed when I have to drive the kids to and from all their commitments. If I/we can’t find a way to take some driving off my plate, I’ll have to trim a few things off their calendars.”

“I feel frustrated when you wait until I’m falling asleep to initiate sex. I need my sleep. If you prefer to have sex at that time, you’ll need to take over making breakfast the next morning so I can sleep in.”

Step 3: Prioritize Pleasure, Not Just Sex

couple walking on seashore wearing white tops during sunset

The more you claim your peace, the more time and space you’ll have to experience and cultivate a pleasure-filled life.

Does pleasure mean sex? Sure, if you want it to!

Sex isn’t the only form of pleasure out there, however.

Building a pleasure practice that acknowledges the vast array of delights available to us is an excellent way to cultivate more sexual desire and have more passionate sex.

What other pleasures are available to us? Consider…

  • emotional pleasures, like going on vacation or enjoying favorite hobbies
  • social pleasures, such as spending time with loved ones or having great conversations
  • spiritual pleasures, like spending time in nature and participating in important causes
  • professional pleasures, such as taking on rewarding projects or learning new skills
  • physical pleasures, besides sex, things like tasty food and luxurious textures

The easiest way to build an intentional pleasure practice is to take a little time before bed each night to think of at least three pleasures you experienced that day.

With time, you can add pleasure to every day by seeking opportunities to experience it intentionally.

And, of course, you can also decide to truly prioritize pleasure by enforcing limits around your time and space to make room for it.

The more you prioritize and practice pleasure, the broader your capacity for sexual pleasure will become.

Get Sensually Activated for Stress-Free Sex

Ready to claim your peaceful, pleasurable life?

Join the Sensually Sourced Community for a free Peace & Pleasure Cheatsheet. It walks you through these 3 steps to replace stress with sensuality.

Alternately, you can take my 6-question quiz for a personalized Sensual Analysis. Discover your Sensual Source and get personalized recommendations for prioritizing pleasure in your life:

Published by Shannon Burton

Erotic Ignition Coach by day, poet and flash fiction author by night, I occasionally manage to get out of the house and enjoy New Orleans as it's meant to be.

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