Sex can be a great stress reliever with the physical and emotional release, bonding, and release of endorphins. For those in a committed relationship a healthy sex life enhances your relationship, relaxes your body, releases ‘happy’ chemicals, and even promotes wellness. It also promotes better sleep.
Unfortunately, excessive stress can lower your libido affecting your sex life and performance. When you react to stress, your body goes through a series of changes in order to prepare you to run away or stay and fight, called your ‘fight or flight’ response. Part of this response is the release of hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. If your stress response isn’t reversed, it can contribute to chronic stress which can also interfere with the hormones involved in your sexual response.
In his book ‘Happiness’ Paul Jenner quotes Andrew Oswald (Professor of Economics at Warwick University UK and David Blanchflower of Dartmouth College USA) who analysed data on 16 000 adult Americans and observed that ‘Having sex at least 4 times a week is associated with approximately 0.12 happiness points’. While this may sound a bit obscure, these ‘happiness points’ are actually highly significant. The researchers concluded ‘The more sex, the happier the person’. So a lot of sex produces a lot of happiness, but a little sex produces almost none.
Their research also found that in the course of one year, the number of sexual partners for maximum happiness is … ONE. Optimum sex can only be achieved by two people who love one another. The most important elements of happy sex are: love, monogamy, absence of inhibition and frequency. But if you are not in love you won’t be fully open to your partner on any of those levels, not even the purely physical.
How does sex make you happy?
Sex can make you feel happy both at the time and for a while afterwards. This is because sex increases the level of certain ‘happy’ chemicals in the body namely dopamine (neurotransmitter that makes you feel pleasure), PEA (phenylethylamine an amphetamine-like substance that stimulates dopamine) and oxytocin – (very desirable bonding chemical that also increases dopamine levels).
At times stress can actually prevent us from being ‘in the mood’. Here are some quick tips on how to get yourself in the mood when stressed, so you can enjoy the benefits of sex!
Make time for sex – clear time in your diary if you have to but make it your priority. Hire people to do things that take up time and energy in your life, like cleaning your house, gardening, etc. Get organised, prioritise and say no to other activities that take up your time.
Create the right mood – music, aromatherapy, hot bubble bath and a soothing environment can all help set the tone for relaxation and romance.
Feel connected – unresolved relationship issues can lead to low libido. Find time for emotionally nurturing conversations, and try to talk about what stresses you to get it off your chest.
Start Slow – oxytocin is a very desirable ‘happy’ chemical that is optimised by cuddling naked (spooning or whole body embrace), or you might trade massages to help loosen tension and make you feel more connected.
Eat a Healthy Diet – a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of vegetables, protein and whole foods can reduce your stress levels, increase your energy, and help your body confidence to look and feel sexy.
Exercise – exercise can actually give you more energy. Even 20 minutes three times a week can make a difference to get more ‘happy’ hormones flowing in your blood, and you’ll be happier with your body shape. These are definite turn-on’s.
Enjoy a good laugh together – laughter is an excellent stress reliever and delivers great benefits to your body and soul, so unwind together on the sofa with a TV comedy or film.