“Put your own mask on first.” “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” These days, adages about self-care abound. And for good reason: a recent survey found that “chronic stress is a national epidemic for all genders and ages, particularly those who are 25 to 35 years old.”
As we’ve talked about before (here and here), being super stressed is not an ideal context for most womxn’s sex life. One of my recent counseling clients, showed me how powerful—and direct—this connection is.
A self-proclaimed people-pleaser, she was putting everyone else’s needs first. Her first homework? Take a 5 minute walk at lunch. She LOLed when I assigned this, wondering, “How the heck does this help my sex life?!” But she trusted me, and soon she was advocating for herself, feeling sexy, and (later) experiencing orgasm more easily: Here’s what she had to say at the end of our work together:
Realizing how nourishing my life could be, I feel fulfilled in other ways. So I don’t need to orgasm in order to feel good. I’m getting that [release] in other ways too.Read more Gratitude and Success Stories
Like C, I’ve learned the hard way the importance of slowing down.
For her, it was the near-collapse of her marriage. For me it was debilitating health issues.
What we both learned is that self-care isn’t only about Insta-worthy bath bombs and retreats (which let’s be real aren’t accessible to many people or desireable to others). It’s also the rituals you practice everyday.
It’s taking a hot bath and doing my physical therapy exercises even though Idonwanna! It’s getting my meds from the pharmacy and doing a face mask. It’s going to church one week and skipping it the next.
Self-care isn’t about escaping your life. It’s about creating a life you don’t want to escape from,within your means.
In light of this strong connection between sex and self-care, here are my current fave fall rituals that help me feel grounded, sexy, and connected.
Double cleansing involves washing your face twice: first with an oil-based cleanser, and then with a water-based one. I resisted the practice for YEARS, committed to being a “roll out of bed and go” girl. Since going off hormonal birth control, my skin was struggling and my current routine stopped working
I decided to finally heed the advice of my aesthetician friend, and now I’m a “uses-several-products-and-spends-10-minutes-washing-her-face” girl. And I love it. The ritual, every morning and night, is a good opportunity to slow down and nurture myself. And my skin looks better than ever!
All. The. Tea.
I will go the entire summer without drinking tea…and then the first whisper of fall comes, and I drink 2-5 cups a day! I make a lot at home, but also incorporate tea into my other rituals. For example, on the walk between my therapist and physical therapist, I stop at an adorable tea shop that makes a mean chai, matcha, or turmeric latte. There’s another shop the beau and I stop at when we walk from the farmer’s market to the grocery store.
Getting present with clients
At the start of my counseling sessions, I lead a brief breathwork or meditation practice to get us grounded and focused, before drawing an affirmation card. It takes less than 5 minutes, and my clients always thank me for the PAUSE.
Crossword puzzles with my beau
Our brains work very differently which can cause issues, but is amazing for doing crossword puzzles. It’s a sweet way to spend some quality time together and practice being a team.
Listening to the Happier Podcast
…while walking. You see a theme? 😉 I was a religious listener of Gretchen Rubin’s podcast…until I hit an episode I wanted to write about (still haven’t) and stopped. I recently started again and omg how I’ve missed it.
Gretchen models self-acceptance (one of her rules of adulthood is “Be Gretchen”). Unlike many of my other fave “big names,” she’s neither woo-woo nor a fashionista—and she gives me hope that it’s possible to be successful without fitting the mold if you will. Plus, her tips are always so practical and easy to remember. Love her entire empire and one day I want to be a guest on the show.
One of the hardest parts of my health challenges was losing my identity as an active person. I went from teaching Zumba and practicing yoga to barely managing a 10 minute walk with our pup. I missed the rush and release of a good workout! Being sedentary also isn’t good for my form of arthritis. Recently, my mobility has started to return—and I’m savoring every second with long walks in the fall weather, which I love.
No (working) phone in the bedroom
Getting my phone out of my bedroom has long been a goal of mine, but honestly? Several of my healthy bedtime and morning routines involve my phone, from tracking my period to meditating.
Thankfully, I dropped my phone in the toilet recently and busted the camera. Instead of ditching the phone, I removed data, wifi, and all the apps except the ones that are part of my routine. My working phone stays in our living room. I can’t talk/text/check social unless I get up and get moving. It’s glorious
- Period tracking apps: Clue & MyFlo
- White noise app
- E-reader apps
- NYT Crossword
I’ve started and stopped meditating so many times in the last decade. Each time I let the habit slide, I selectively forgot how much of a difference even 5 minutes makes. And everytime I return to it, I remember. I use the Headspace app.
Dancing it out
This insta post says it all…
Taking care of yourself is part of finding #freedominpleasure
It never has been just about the mechanics of sex. Because most of what impacts your sex life has nothing to do with what goes where. It has to do with how present you can be, how you feel (about your body, your life, your relationship), and what else is going on in your life. So much of this we can’t control. But self-care? These fall rituals have got you covered.