Stress is a fact of life and an ever increasing one in our society. Sexuality is also a fact of life but a mostly unacknowledged one.
Yes, for every person on the planet at least one event of sexual activity has taken place. So yes, sexual activity is acknowledged but I’m referring to sexuality. Sex is an activity – what you do sexually. Sex is also a way of identifying gender.
Sexuality is a combination of your thoughts (mind), activities (body), feelings (heart), and expression (spirit).
Healthy sexuality is a positive co-existence of mind, body, heart and spirit. Ergo….. Your sexuality is a combination of everything you are!
How stress and sexuality affect each other is profound and chemically based in our brains and bodies also affecting our hearts and spirit.
We all know the damaging effects stress can have on the body. All manner of physical ailments and pain can manifest with the accumulation of stress and the ongoing chronic state of living with it. We can’t think as clearly, love as fully or live with joy when stress takes hold.
Stress is the bodies alarm system. Stress is primal and occurs as a result of perceived danger.
Cave tribe is enjoying a pleasurable feast around their newly acquired fire. Sabre tooth tiger is spotted on the prowl. Oh, my! This is real and dangerous and an involuntary reaction takes place in the cave person’s bodies.
Two of the main neurotransmitters in the brain (dopamine and norepinephrine) begin firing and stimulate the adrenal glands to produce cortisol (stress hormone). This is the basis of the fight or flight response which is instant and life preserving in the face of danger. Cortisol shuts down pleasure sensors so the body is ready for the exertion required to either flee or fight.
Now, there aren’t many of us these days who run into the threat of sabre tooth tigers. What we are exposed to is our modern day, fast paced, isolated, over worked, under paid, continually demanding existence that has us living in a chronic state of overwhelm and stress.
How stress and sexuality affect each other is measurable scientifically. But how?
While dopamine’s primary function governs alertness, and norepinephrine primarily governs concentration, a third main neurotransmitter is serotonin which, again primarily, governs our sensory awareness and satisfaction of pleasure.
Stress and pleasure are not designed to co-exist. It’s a zero or one. When we’re stressed cortisol overrides serotonin and with it, our experience of safety, pleasure and relaxation. With elevated cortisol, we live in a state of fatigue, confusion, distraction and anxiety. Pretty much the exact opposite of pleasure.
We are designed to experience stress on an as needed basis. We are also designed as sexual beings to experience great levels of pleasure.
If we’re not experiencing pleasure due to chronic stress, we’re not tuned into and living in our true sexuality and we’re missing out on deep intimacy.
But there is a way your sexuality can kick stresses ass to the curb. Make pleasure a committed choice and employ the benefits of another substance in your body – Oxytocin!
Oxytocin is commonly known as the cuddle hormone and it’s responsible for the bonding which occurs between mom and newborn. It’s also responsible for the luscious, yummy, juicy feelings we have post coital. In men oxytocin production is stimulated throughout sexual activity. In women it gradually rises and then surges with orgasm.
And get this – oxytocin overrides cortisol allowing serotonin to play again! Intercourse isn’t always what’s necessary to up the oxytocin ante. Being open to pleasure is.
Sexual activity can be anything from luxuriating on your own or with your lover in a warm bath. Exchanging massages; long, lingering hugs until you’re completely relaxed; any type of positive, extended, pleasurable touch raises oxytocin. If you’re on your own, caress your own body while being fully aware of any and all pleasurable sensations.
Oxytocin rights the imbalance in your body, reduces cortisol stress and makes way for the energy flow of intimacy, creativity and pleasure.
How stress and sexuality affect each other is undeniable and something you can control, or at the very least manage.
Making your sexuality a priority with pleasure means you’re making everything about yourself a priority. And yes, you deserve it.
Live a Happy, Sexy Life!