No time for yourself? Hate your job? Can’t pay your bills? Time to de-stress before it hurts your sex life.
“Stress plays a significant role in dampening libido,” says Eli Bay, a relaxation expert in Toronto.
“If you are tired and you don’t have the urge and you can’t perform, it is very likely a stress thing,” he adds.
Bay is a skill trainer who has been teaching people the tools to deal with stress for 32 years.
Stress can affect sexual health in both men and women.
“Stress is a fight or flight reaction. It is great in an emergency, but not when you are trying to heal, make love or be creative,” he says.
When you are stressed, your body becomes focussed on defending itself — poised for battle.
“People are walking around with low level stress all the time. That’s the new normal.
“It takes a toll. Your energy is sapped by having a constant low-level stress.”
Along with common signs of stress such as poor sleep, anxiety, allergies, gastrointestinal problems, heartburn, indigestion, grinding teeth, depression, and asthma, Bay has seen people suffer from erectile dysfunction, loss of desire, and impotence.
It makes sense because when you are stressed, you feel tired and angry. Your muscles are tense and your breathing is shallow, your blood pressure is up, your blood sugar may be up, and your body is getting ready for flight.
“Stress affects the flow of hormones in the body. It dampens the hormones that enhance the sexual act.”
Exacerbating the problem for some people is the fact that medications for depression and anxiety can cause sexual dysfunction and impotence.
Crutches such as alcohol, smoking and drugs can make the problem worse.
Bay is a proponent of using relaxation techniques to quell the effects of low-level stress.
“It’s not a pill, it’s a skill. Cultivate it, develop it, practice it and when you are in need of it, call upon it.
“People who are stressed out before they plan to make love need to take time, relax, breathe, use slow, deep, full breathing. It can be very powerful. It brings you into the moment.”
How stressed are you? Bay’s website, elibay.com, provides a quiz to answer that question, and offers DVDs, training sessions and other tools to help you learn to relax.