What comes to mind when you think about ways to reduce stress levels and calm the mind? Maybe a walk in nature, mindful meditation, a mug of hot herbal tea, or a few minutes practicing yoga positions?
While these are all incredibly valid and encouraged stress-busting activities, there’s another one we’ve got in mind today that you may not hear about as often: sex.
That’s right — getting down doggy style may relieve stress just as much as time spent in the downward dog yoga position. Wondering how? Get comfortable because we are about to dive all the way in.
What Causes Feelings of Stress?
These days, it may feel like there is no shortage of triggers for stress. Responsibilities at home, a workplace culture that prioritizes production over rest, transition periods, the expectations of others, and the occasional issues that arise in our relationships and friendships can all lead to feelings of stress.
Physiologically, stress can serve as a useful biological function in certain situations. When the body perceives danger, it releases higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol to alert and prepare the body to respond to the threat at hand.
But, when the body overproduces cortisol in response to everyday stressors, it can affect our mental health and physical well-being. The good news is that identifying what may be causing stress and finding ways to manage that stress can help.
Big Life Changes
Life changes can bring a lot of uncertainty, even ones considered happy or positive, such as a new career, promotion, big move, or marriage. Experiencing stress or nervousness during these big transitions is normal, and you don’t need to feel guilty or ungrateful for experiencing these emotions.
Acknowledging your feelings and holding space for such feelings is important and can help you process and move through them however you need to. Finding tools to help you manage the stress of life changes, such as meditation, journaling, speaking to a therapist, or — as we’ll get deeper into below — having sex, can all help lower your stress levels as you tackle these life changes and transition periods.
As individuals, we can only take on so much before feelings of stress and overwhelm kick in. If you stretch yourself too thin or feel the pressure of expectations from others, such as a boss or family members, you may find yourself experiencing more stress and tension than usual.
If this is the case for you, it can help to communicate your feelings and needs with others, set boundaries where needed, and ask for help so you can rest and engage in feel-good activities to help alleviate feelings of tension.
Relationships can be wonderful, but they can also be downright hard. If you’re feeling out of sync with your partner or partners, or if one of you is experiencing a life change that is affecting your mood or your ability to make time for one another, you may be feeling the stress of it on your mind and body.
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: communication is key. If you’re noticing tension or feeling like your needs aren’t being met within your relationship, let your partner know so you can figure out how to move forward together.
Talking to a friend or therapist can also help, as can speaking to a counselor together. And if your partner doesn’t make you feel safe in approaching them with your concerns and needs, that is a huge red flag.
With a trusted partner, you should be able to communicate and listen to one another, ask what they need, and tell them what you need in return. Finding ways to prioritize fun and set time to reconnect with one another can also help ease tension and forge through any rough patches.
From date nights to cuddling up for movie marathons or spending time between the sheets, connecting emotionally and physically can help boost intimacy and soothe stress overall.
How Does Sex Help With Stress and Anxiety?
Alright, so you're looking to kick your stress to the curb, but how can a romp in the sheets get you there?
Whether you’re enjoying some sexy time alone or with partners, there are several health benefits of sex, almost all of which play a role in stress relief. Hear us out; we promise we have science on our side!
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, sex can help release some of that negative energy — literally.
During sex, the body releases endorphins, which help limit stress and discomfort and boost well-being. Endorphins are the same neurotransmitters released when we move our body during other forms of physical activity and are responsible for the aptly named “runner’s high,” known to send pleasure signals all through the brain.
The good news is, you don’t need to like running to experience this rush of feel-good chemicals to the brain. Sex, and even massages, play a similar role in releasing stress and tension while promoting calm and relaxation.
If you’re looking to get your blood flowing and your endorphins pumping in the bedroom, try adding our Awaken Arousal Oil to the scene to help boost pleasure and sensation during intimate massages or foreplay. Intense, energy-releasing orgasms await you.
Supports Better Sleep
It’s no secret that sleeping is good for us. And we’re not talking about sleeping with others here (though you know we love that too), but just plain old sleeping.
A lot goes on beneath the surface and behind those closed eyes during our sleep cycles. Sleep gives our bodies time to recharge and reset with minimal interruptions, which benefits our immune system, muscles, mood, and brain.
When we sleep, the neurons in our brains recharge, memory consolidation occurs, and REM cycles can help support our ability to regulate emotions. Heck, our brains may literally clear out toxins that accumulate throughout the day as we sleep.
Another benefit of a good night’s sleep is that our hormones naturally rebalance as we get our ZZZs. This includes the stress hormone cortisol, which drops during our resting hours, helping us feel less stressed upon waking from a night of enough good quality sleep.
All of this is to say: improving your sleep quality can benefit your physical and mental wellness in all sorts of cool ways. And if you’re finding that your brain won’t shut down once your head hits the pillow, a little lovin’ might get you there.
Studies suggest that the hormones released during sex can help you fall asleep faster and improve the quality of your sleep once you’re in it, helping you wake up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
So, go ahead and see if your partner has the energy for a quick late-night romp, or grab your vibrator or prostate massager and enjoy a new nighttime wind-down routine that won’t be hard to follow through on. Don’t be surprised if you’re still glowing in the morning!
Improving sleep quality isn’t the only way sex helps promote relaxation. Research has found that the act of orgasming itself can encourage full-body relaxation by triggering the release of prolactin in the brain, a hormone known to promote calmness and reduce stress.
Sex can also lower adrenaline levels, further leading to feelings of relaxation. Adrenaline is the hormone associated with the fight-or-flight response, as it helps us combat any perceived danger.
When this hormone is released, it causes our blood vessels to contract to redirect blood to the muscles. While useful in the short term if we need to flee from a bear, the overproduction of adrenaline during chronic stress can cause increased muscle tension and discomfort.
This means that when sex lowers adrenaline levels, it helps calm our minds and can ease physical manifestations of stress. Enjoy that orgasm even more, knowing that as good as it feels in the moment, it will also help your body feel good after the fact.
A healthy sex life centered on communication and consent can help build trust, intimacy, and closeness between you and your partner(s).
And while emotions play a huge role in this, there’s a physiological element, too. Oxytocin, released during physical intimacy, has a reputation as the “love hormone,” and this reputation is well-earned. Oxytocin can strengthen feelings of affection, connection, and intimacy — all of which help lay the groundwork for strong and happy relationships.
Oxytocin release is not limited to penetrative sex, either. You can experience the euphoria brought on by this hormone during oral sex, kissing, sensual massages, and cuddling.
And the relationship-strengthening benefits of physical intimacy don’t end when the touching does. A 2017 study found that couples can experience the afterglow of these hormones for days after sex, leading to increased bonding and satisfaction. By improving your mood and helping you bond with your partner, sex and intimacy can help improve your stress response.
Supports Happy Hormones
When it comes to orgasm, the good times just keep on rolling.
Along with reducing stress levels and just straight-up feeling good, orgasms and sex generally release a wide range of feel-good hormones. The love hormone oxytocin, the happy hormone dopamine, the calming prolactin, and the rewarding endorphins all make an appearance when we’re feeling frisky, which in turn can enhance the mood, reduce cortisol levels, and keep us feeling happy and relaxed — even into the next day.
Of course, sex that doesn’t feel good could increase discomfort and stress, so it’s important to find what works for you. If friction or dryness is getting in the way of letting loose, lube can help set the scene and keep you going and going as long as you please.
Adding sex toys into the mix, watching porn, or communicating and exploring different fantasies consensually with your partner can all help elevate the experience and make sure your sex is as enjoyable as it can be for everyone involved.
And you don’t need a partner to experience this release of happy hormones, either. Engaging in solo sex, using a vibrator or sex toy, or even running your fingers along your most sensitive erogenous zones can release these hormones and help you destress whenever you crave it.
What Kind of Sex Is Best for Relaxation?
Whatever sex makes you feel good is the kind of sex you should strive for. There is no wrong way to enjoy sex — as long as everyone involved is consenting.
Whether using an orgasm-inspiring toy, enjoying masturbation with your fingers alone, exploring your turn-ons or kinks with multiple partners, role-playing an erotic fantasy, or just kicking it missionary style, as long as everyone involved is feeling safe and enjoying themselves, you are doing it right. Enjoy it, and enjoy basking in the relaxing afterglow.
How Often Should You Have Sex?
You know your body best, so you are the judge here. How often you engage in sexual activity is all about how often you want to do so. And remember, sex isn’t all about penetration.
There are many ways to explore sexual acts and physical intimacy, all of which can serve as stress relievers.
Are There Risks of Having Sex Every Day?
Engaging in regular sex looks different for everyone. If having sex every day feels good for you, do it up! As long as you and your partners are into it and using your normal protection to keep sex safe, there is no added risk to having sex daily.
There is also absolutely nothing wrong with having sex less often. Whatever feels good to you, you deserve to feel good doing.
The Bottom Line
Here at Foria, we are all about finding what works for you. Sex can help reduce stress levels and release happy hormones to help you relax and feel your best — especially when you incorporate tools that make sex as comfortable and pleasurable as can be.
But if sex isn’t feeling like what you want right now, don’t push it! Most important is being aware of your needs and desires and using the stress-busting tools that work best for you. Remember: you deserve to feel good, however that looks for you.
Want more? Sign up for our newsletter