Understanding stressStress puts our bodies in a state of energy efficiency designed for self-protection. Commonly known as the “fight or flight” reaction, a stressful event pushes our bodies to either run away (flight) or protect ourselves (fight) from the perceived danger. This primaeval adaptation has not changed. But today, we have all kinds of other stressors that are constant and insidious that create this reaction. Many of us are familiar with the “Wall Street” type of stress that requires high levels of work pressure, things to do, and over-commitment.
Other factors that create stress
- Sleep deficiency (regularly getting less than 7 hours each night)
- Life events: marriage, divorce, unemployment, relocation, bereavement
- Lack of relaxation and downtime - ‘busyness’
- Too much partying, staying out late, ‘burning the candle at both ends’
- Poor work-life balance
What happens to our libido when we are stressed?When stressed, our bodies shut down our sex mechanism to make us efficient in dealing with these perceived ‘dangers’. Chronic stress is an important player in libido. It affects the concentration of hormones and hormones are major players in the bedroom! Testosterone is a sex hormone required by both men and women for sex drive. High levels of stress increase cortisol (a stress hormone) at the expense of making testosterone. There goes your libido! Surprisingly, this is a bigger problem for women than men because men have ten times more testosterone than women so men have more to spare! Interestingly, testosterone is at it's lowest in the evenings, sonight time may not be the right time!
What can you do?It is a good idea to start with a check-up with your GP to make sure that there is no underlying problem that may affect your libido. If you suspect stress, then you can take this simple onlinequiz to see what your levels are like. It is important to talk to your partner if you feel that stress is an issue, and explain how that affects libido (or give them this article to read). Reduce your stress and improve your relaxation. This will switch off the cortisol and leave all that lovely testosterone ready to go.
Tips to reduce stress and increase libido
- Relax/meditate: Use relaxation techniques and guided meditations to improve your feelings of well-being.
- Breathe: Deep breathing can reduce heart rate and cortisol. Breathe deeply. Fill your belly with air, hold for 5 seconds and then slowly exhale. Repeat as many times as necessary.
- Exercise: Gentle exercise and stretching can help to release tension and increase production of endorphins (feel-good hormones). Vigorous exercise is also a great way to work off frustration - jog, swim or hit something (like a tennis ball!)
- Reduce fatigue/Improve sleep: Try to go to bed by 11 and make sure you are getting a good 8 hours a night.
- Eat well-balanced meals and snacks: Food is the fuel of your body. If you want your body to run well, fill it with all the good stuff! Hit your daily marks for fresh fruit and vegetables (5 a day) and good quality fat and proteins to ensure good energy and to support hormone production.
Finally...Simplify your life: Prioritise, make lists, and work out what’s important. Do one thing at a time. Don't forget - Fun! Yes, have some fun. Engaging in a fun activity boosts your wellbeing. Set aside 10 minutes each day to do something REALLY fun for you - walk in the park, dance or listen to favourite music, play with your kids (build a cubby house!). There is a myriad of herbs, supplements and aromatherapy oils that can also be used to improve relaxation and reduce stress and get you in the mood!
Article by Desley Hatfield | Naturopathh