What you need to know:
Say you’re being chased by a tiger, ask yourself, is now the best time to have an erection?
Our bodies are smart.
I do not claim to understand the intricacies of evolution, however, if I was to design a human from scratch I would definitely include this in the recipe :
‘when human is not safe, release chemicals that will make human hyper alert to surroundings. Turn off pleasure. And turn off all bodily functions associated with pleasure’
The chemicals our actual human bodies produce when we feel ‘not safe’ or ‘stressed’ are cortisol and adrenaline.
Adrenaline is very helpful when we are in a tiger-chase situation. We need razor sharp focus, energy, fight or flight mindset and response. However, it also tells our bodies not to feel pleasure or create erections. So in a sexual situation, it’s not the best ingredient to add to have the best time.
The problem though is this.
Wondering if you are going to get an erection is naturally quite stress provoking.
This situation is so common in fact that we have a term for it that you might have heard before:
I mean, the fact that an erection is referred to as ‘performance’ is stress producing in itself!
Luckily there are simple techniques to get those stress chemicals out of your system and squash performance anxiety.
I have seen clients feel more pleasure, more enjoyment and yes, more physical response, when they move their focus onto two simple but powerful questions before sex or pumping:
“What might be making me feel stressed or unsafe right now?”
“What could I do to feel more safe and relaxed?”
What to do next:
10 minutes or less
Get adrenaline and cortisol out of your system in 10 seconds or less :
Take three deep breaths. Imagine the breath filling up your belly. Make your exhale longer than the inhale was.
Shake out your hands like you’re getting water off them. Roll your shoulders back. Adjust your posture so you are sitting or standing strong and grounded like a tree.
Close your eyes and think about what it would feel like if all the tension in your head, eyes, jaw melted away.
Look around your environment. What adjustments could you do right now to help you feel more safe and comfortable? It might be closing a door for more privacy, picking clothes off the floor and putting them away so your surroundings are clear, clearing papers off your desk that remind you of work, getting the temperature to a comfortable setting, softening the lighting.
Massage your hands or temples of your head. Touch from yourself or on/from a partner releases oxytocin, this hormone is all about switching pleasure on, the opposite of adrenaline.
30 minutes or more
Download these worksheets by Dr. Emily Nagoski. The ‘stress’ and ‘sexy contexts’ ones are particularly good to do with a partner so you can better understand each others different stress triggers. Open non-judgemental communication with your partner before sex is one of the best ways to reduce stress when you do get intimate later.
Willing to invest more time
If you are finding the exercises above make a difference then I recommend going further and exploring ‘mindfulness’.
This is a meditation-type practice that focuses on non-judgmentally noticing sensations and thoughts as they naturally arise.
A lot of research has come out in the last decade about how mindfulness can help increase sexual enjoyment as well as help with the many flavours of anxiety and depression.
This Australian-based app Smiling Mind is free and introduces you to exercises ranging from 1 minute - 15 minutes.
You could also Google ‘mindfulness course’ top find group classes in your area.