The Intersection of Mental Health and Sexual Wellness

Mental health and sexual wellness are closely related topics and have a tremendous amount of crossover when it comes to our well-being. Positive sexual encounters and a healthy attitude toward sex can do wonders for our mental health, including reducing stress, anxiety, and depression. When we find ourselves having great sex with someone we’re compatible with and trust, we’ll also probably find that our happiness levels increase tenfold. This is not by mistake! Sexual wellness promotes mental health and vice versa. When you spend time and energy getting into a healthy headspace, don’t be surprised if you attract sexual partners who keep improving your life.

Of course, this means the opposite is also true. If you’re in an unhealthy sexual situation with a partner or perhaps failing to connect genuinely with someone you’re having sex with, this could result in the degradation of your mental health. Often, people who find themselves in the vicious cycle of emotionally abusive relationships with their partners are likewise struggling in the mental health department.

The Good Stuff

It can feel like flying when you’re spiritually aligned and enjoying the finer things in life with a partner you trust. Intimacy should deepen over a period of time and you should never feel rushed into getting to this place with a partner.

That said, once you’ve reached this place (and by the way, you can also just as easily do this solo!), you might want to start exploring new intimate aspects. Maybe you start experimenting with your sex. A great place to begin is checking out lubes that can enhance your foreplay. Lube is great because it encourages reciprocity that will serve to deepen the connection between you and your partner. Throw in an exciting sex toy or other sexual enhancers for easier ways to amplify the intimacy in your relationship.

Intimacy is not established overnight. In order to promote both sexual wellness and mental health, make sure you’re not rushing into a relationship. Slow and steady is a fine way to proceed. The important part in the beginning is to set up a healthy foundation on which your relationship can grow if you so choose.

When you’re starting to date someone new, it’s a good idea to make sure you’re both on the same page on important topics. Be clear and specific about what you want out of this relationship. Are you looking for a casual fling or searching for something more long-term? By the way, it’s always okay to change your mind! Your feelings very possibly may change over time. Respect your feelings and don’t be afraid to communicate your wants and needs. If you find yourself with someone where this feels like an impossibility, it’s probably time for you to take a step back and reassess.

What Is Sexual Wellness?

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Basically, sexual wellness as defined by the CDC is “a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality.”  It’s really important to set yourself up for success in your sexual relationships so that you can also continue taking great care of your mental health. In order to do this, it’s helpful to know what constitutes sexual wellness. There are several factors that are key to understanding the ways we can continue promoting wellness in all aspects of our lives.

If you are choosing to have sex with someone, whether it’s a longtime partner or a one-night stand, it’s essential that you consent to the act. Sex without clear consent can leave you feeling isolated and violated and it can have lasting negative impacts on your mental health. While this is tragically not always in our control, it is important to practice making your boundaries abundantly clear in all situations. You never should feel coerced into doing anything you do not want to do, in the bedroom or otherwise.

If you do end up in a situation where you’ve been subjected to non-consensual sex, help is available for you. Do not feel ashamed. Talking about your negative sexual experience is beneficial to restoring your confidence and getting your mental health back on track after a traumatic incident.

People who have depression or low self-esteem can sometimes find themselves suffering from low libido. A lack of a sex drive can feel incredibly alienating and can make you believe there’s something wrong with you. While there may be factors contributing to this, it’s important to know that you’re not alone. Many people experience a low sex drive at some point or another, sometimes it goes away quickly, and in other cases, it sticks around until the core issue is addressed. For the sake of your mental and sexual wellness, getting a therapist you trust is an excellent place to start. We always recommend speaking with your doctor if any of these problems persist.

The Effects of Stress

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Photo by Kinga Howard on Unsplash

If you’re someone struggling to find joy in sex, this also could be stress-related. Finding healthy outlets to deal with stress is important when it comes to both your mental health and sexual wellness. It can be a good idea to get into a routine where you’re waking up and going to sleep at the same time every morning and night to reduce stress. You may want to consider giving up alcohol for a bit if you find yourself drinking more than usual. Breaking news: alcohol increases stress rather than diminishes it. Taking a break from alcohol can help with sleep hygiene and depression.

Getting into the habit of working out will also do wonders for your stress, improve your sleep, mental health, and sexual wellness. When you’re moving around and feeling good about your body, it’s more likely that you’ll have healthy sexual encounters that fuel more goodness in your body and mind.

Sexual wellness and mental health are aspects of life that we cannot let fall by the wayside. Try to stay on top of both but when you’re struggling with either, be sure to reach out to a trusted friend or confidant.

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