Daily stress can wreak havoc on your health. It can affect how you study, how you sleep – and even how you have sex. But stress comes in different shapes and sizes. What sort of hassles get in the way of healthy sex? And what can you do about it?
To answer the first question, a team of Canadian researchers spread the news they were looking for people to fill in an online survey about stress and sex. They tracked down 155 women and just over 90 men to answer questions on the daily worries they faced in life, using the ‘Daily Hassles Scale’. This is a list of pretty much everything you can imagine to get stressed out about – it’s like your worst nightmare if you’re lying awake at four in the morning! The worries range from planning meals and paying bills to crime, pollution and the meaning of life.
The participants also shared intimate details about their sex lives with the researchers, and told them whether they were feeling depressed or anxious. Once the surveys were filled out, the Canadian duo got to work analysing the results.
To work out what are the most passion-killing hassles, they divided them into five groups
- Personal stress (e.g. What’s for dinner? When will I die?)
- Financial stress (e.g. How can I pay the rent? What if I lose my job?)
- Low socioeconomic status stress (e.g. It’s noisy and filthy where I live and people treat me like dirt!)
- Job stress (e.g. I hate my boss!)
- Time stress (e.g. Aargh, too much to do!)
Stress turns women off more
Sure enough, daily stressors had a major impact on the sex lives of both the women and men in the study, they found. 'It’s hard to focus on sex and sexual cues and being tuned in to your partner if you’re worried about money or worried about getting to work on time,' researcher Dr Lisa Dawn Hamilton told Love Matters. Whether it’s the stress itself or the depression it causes that’s to blame is hard to say, she explained – the two are closely connected.
Women suffer more than men from daily stressors, the research also revealed. 'Women make less money, women experience more poverty, women are often more responsible for the day-to-day household chores,' Dr Hamilton says. Worrying about these things can be distracting and make it hard to focus on enjoying sex.
So which of the daily hassle types have the biggest impact on women’s sex lives? Well, you guessed it, money worries are among the worst. And also the socioeconomic status stressors – factors about your living environment which you can’t do anything to change. 'The worst types of stressors are things that you don’t have control over,' says Dr Hamilton.
Focus on the here and now
So, the conclusion: the way to have better sex is get rid of your stress? Mmm… easier said than done. Stop worrying about money – just get rich? Well, you might not be able to switch off the causes of stress, but you can do something about the way you deal with it – meditation is a great tool.
Research shows that mindfulness techniques, drawn from Buddhist meditation, can really work to lower daily stress levels. Meditation techniques are all about focusing on the moment. Tantric intercourse, an ancient Indian practice, sees on sex as spiritual performance. It sounds intimidating, but it’s basically concentrating on everything that goes on between you and your partner while you’re in bed, fairly simple, eh?.
Mindfulness teaches you to direct your attention on the present. 'It means being able to focus on the pleasurable sensations in your body and consciously making time to just focus on the here and now,' sex Dr Hamilton. And that of course is just what you need to do during sex – keep your mind on what’s happening with your lover’s sexy body and stop worrying about paying the bills!
Source: The Relationship Between Daily Hassles and Sexual Function in Men and Women, Lisa Dawn Hamiltona & Amanda M. Juliana
Do daily hassles put you off sex? Do you use yoga or meditation to help reduce your stress? Tell us your experiences. Leave a comment below or on Facebook.