If it sometimes takes nothing short of a half-naked Idris Elba to make you want to wrinkle up the sheets – and even then, a full night’s sleep sounds more appealing – you’re not alone. One in three women loses her sex drive at some point in her life, studies show. And we don’t mean menopause. Sure, major tragedies, hormonal changes and new meds can mess with your mojo, but there’s a common reason almost all of us can relate to: our minds are getting in the way.
So, what do you do when you wake up next to your guy instead of Idris? Create desire – through your mind. Here’s how…
When you rise… Clear your brain
Think about your sex drive in terms of driving a car: “Things that turn you on make you hit the gas harder, while distractions or worries make you hit the brake pedal,” says psychologist Dr Lori Brotto, author of Better Sex Through Mindfulness. Before focusing on accelerating, ease up on the brakes – as in, remove anxieties. Take a morning yoga class to decompress or meditate for 10 to 20 minutes.
If you struggle with stillness, try a body scan: sitting or lying down, zero in on your left toes, then work your way up to your left shoulder, noting any sensations or emotional thoughts that come up (such as I hate my scarred knee). Repeat on your right side and groin area.
The exercise teaches you to acknowledge, then let go of, thoughts so you can exist in the present moment and focus on physical feelings. Brotto’s research found that women who did an eight-week mindfulness programme (which included this exercise) notably increased their desire – and also heightened satisfaction by a whopping 60 percent.
When you’re getting ready for work… Take time to lather up
The shower is a calming experience in itself, helping to ease your frazzled mind. But it’s also a chance to connect with your body. “Showers are full of sensory moments that can remind you of how responsive your body is to touch,” says Dr Leah Millheiser, director of female sexual medicine at Stanford University in the US. Suds up with your hands, then move in slow circles from feet to neck. The exercise in mindfulness and touch could put you in a more loving mood that evening, Millheiser adds. By the time you reach your super-sensitive neck, you should be so relaxed, you notice every stroke – which can make you want more… Elsewhere.
When you’re going about your day… Recall hot memories
Even if you’re insanely attracted to your partner, when the newness of a relationship wears off, so too does the shininess of sex. Our brains crave excitement, so “old” gets filed as “boring,” which gets filed, well, way in the back of our minds.
To bring sultry play to the forefront, the next time you’re in a non-bedroom location where you once had a steamy hook-up – the kitchen, your car, your office – spend a few minutes reminiscing. How did the romp begin? How amazing did it feel? How giggly were you both afterwards? “Thinking about how your partner pleased you in an unexpected setting can stimulate a lust for spontaneous sex and prime you to want it for the rest of the day,” says Millheiser. Shoot your man a suggestive text or email him about your trip down memory lane. His response will turn nostalgia into anticipation.
When you’re winding down… Tap into romance
When we’re not even close to being in the mood because of shenanigans going on in our lives, one of the best things we can do is take ourselves out of them. Choose a book, movie or show with a romantic story line, where sex is either minorly or majorly present, Millheiser recommends. (You could also try porn or an erotic novel to speed up the get-you-going process.)
“Even 20 minutes of following a character’s love or sex encounters can help you reset and detach from any feelings of stress or resentment and also make you feel more drawn to the person with whom you share your own intimate relationship,” says Millheiser. Plus, observing another couple’s interactions may make you more mindful and appreciative of your own. Really, anything that brings you to the here and now can make you want sex, here and now.