What's Sexual Self-Care All About?
The term 'self-care' has become a bit of a buzzword over the last few years.
And while the term clearly means lots of different things to different people (a quick scroll through Instagram posts tagged #selfcare brings up 12 skin care adverts, a lot of gym selfies and a Kermit the Frog meme) at their core is a pretty simple idea:
Actively taking control of your personal wellbeing.
From using mindfulness techniques to help you focus on the moment to Marie Kondo-ing your bedroom, everyone can introduce a little bit of self-care into their sex lives, too.
You've probably familiar with mindfulness, even if it's just because someone's given you one of those adult colouring books for Christmas.
Mindfulness is the process of bringing your attention to the present moment and focussing on your body, senses and feelings. It's usually associated with meditation, but you can easily apply the same technique to your sex life, whether you're single or coupled up.
We have busy lives, and busy minds that can easily become distracted. Ever found yourself thinking about food, work or the last episode of GoT during sex or masturbation? When you feel you mind drifting, try to bring your awareness back to the now. Focus on your breathing. On the feeling of your fingertips on your skin, and the way your body responds to your own touch.
Being fully present during your self pleasure practice can help you feel more connected to your body, and to your sexuality. And that connection can help you to be more accepting and appreciative of your own body and the amazing things it's capable of.
Slow things down
Whether it's a 'wake up wank' just before your alarm goes off, or a quick way to release sexual tension, there's no denying a functional fap can be super satisfying. But slowing things right down every now and then can have pretty amazing results.
Like the mighty Miley said, it's not about how fast you get there, and it's not about what's waiting on the other side. When it comes to mindful masturbation, it's The Climb that counts.
Be more playful. Tease yourself. Touch everywhere but there. You may know exactly what buttons to press, and in exactly what order, but where's the fun in hitting them all right away? If you take the focus off the end goal – aka the orgasm – you'll be able to enjoy the journey. And you could be in for a pretty explosive orgasm when you finally give in.
Try edging. Bring yourself to the brink of orgasm, building up the sensations until you can't take it any longer. You can do this manually, or use a stamina stroker, or a toy with a wide vibration range, starting on a low rumble and building to an intense buzz.
Create the right mood
Setting the mood for your solo pleasure session is a great way to show yourself love.
That means creating the perfect environment for pleasure – whatever that looks like for you. You might feel more comfortable in a warm, cosy room, or you might want to remove any niggling reminders of the outside world, like stacks of work or piles of dirty washing. Make your bedroom a positive place to be and you'll be able to focus and let go of stress and inhibitions.
You might feel sexiest in the bathroom, in a deep bubble bath with no interruption and your favourite vibrator. If that's the case, make sure you schedule your alone time for when you're on your own in the house, or let your housemates/partner/family know you need an hour to yourself.
And speaking of time, this is one of the most important things you can give to yourself, whether it's 20 minutes, an hour or a whole afternoon.
Give yourself a gift
It might seem self indulgent, especially if you're a naturally nurturing type, but spoiling yourself is a basic part of sexual self-care.
Self-gifting doesn't have to mean giving yourself something physical, or even spending any money. Although buying yourself that sex toy you've been eyeing up is one way to show yourself love, there are plenty of other ways to do it.
Take a naked selfie, and instead of being self critical, focus on the things you like most about your body. Put on the lingerie you feel most confident and sexy in, and notice how it makes you feel. Switch off your phone, unplug from social media for a few hours, and give yourself the invaluable gift of time alone.
Taking care of your own needs is just as important as an act of kindness aimed at someone else. It can take a bit of practice, but it's worth it, trust us.
Communication is key
Whether you're in a couple or you're single, communication and sexual self-care go hand in hand.
Asking for what you want means bravely and honestly speaking up for your needs and desires.
That might mean asking your partner to touch you in a certain way, asking them to explore a fantasy with you, or bringing up something you're not happy with within your sex life or relationship.
Or, it might mean giving yourself permission to wholeheartedly explore your sexuality and find out what works for you, whether that's with a new sex toy, a new sexual position or a new person.
We all receive negative messages that hinder us from being true to ourselves and embracing our sexual selves. But the greatest act of self-care is to let yourself be yourself, without apology or shame.
Be true to yourself, and you may well find yourself on a path of sexual discovery that leads to greater pleasure and self acceptance.