Classically there are many different reasons as to why mental health issues happen for different people, and sometimes sexual issues cause mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.
One thing I can say from my experience working with women and couples, is that there’s a lot of pressure to have amazing sex lives. So if there’s something going on with your body where you’re not feeling confident or you’re not having satisfying orgasms, it can lead to feeling like there’s something wrong with them.
“women feel a lot of comparison and challenge to keep up with a certain stereotype and it can really knock their confidence”
I think a lot of women feel a lot of comparison and challenge to keep up with a certain stereotype and it can really knock their confidence. It’s not just about their sexual confidence – one of the interesting things about when women really claim their sexual energy, it’s how they engage with their perception of themselves.
For example, I worked with a woman whose anxiety was so extreme she couldn’t go out of the house. She came to me for help with her sexual relationship, but we addressed her anxiety and tapped into the pelvis, which grounds and roots our system and helps us to relax into our nervous system.
By dealing with all those thoughts that were destroying her confidence over time, we didn’t just improve her sexual relationship, but she was able to go outside again as well.
“if you’re having really good touch, joyful, playful touch and intimacy, it creates an environment where health issues can stop being so dominant because we feel loved”
By paying attention to feeling sensual, the mind starts to calm down. So many women have so many negative feelings in their minds that keep them back in their career, or being the mother they want to be.
It’s about a wider sense of self for both men and women. Healthy sexual relationships release oxytocin in the body – the happy hormone. I think I am right in saying that you can’t have adrenaline and oxytocin in the body at the same time, and often people with mental health issues have an element of adrenaline in the body all the time – perhaps that’s due to anxiety about the future, or the past, or a suffering of some kind.
But if you’re having really good touch, joyful, playful touch and intimacy, it creates an environment where health issues can stop being so dominant because we feel loved, cared for and nourished.
“We spend too much time in our heads – we work in our heads all day, come home and suddenly get into bed and we’re expected to be in the body”
Culturally, we’re very mind based. The mind is a very addictive place to be; it’s very creative, so for example if you work really hard on the computer all day, you’re filled with adrenaline and a disconnect develops where you are more in your head than in your body.
For women, a lot of the disconnect is through some kind of trauma – from minor to major. That could even be not liking the way they look maybe, so they’re not really accepting what their body looks or feels like. All these things create a sense of stress that you should be a certain way.
I also think depression is a deeper version of grief and we don’t deal with grief very well as a culture. By being present we can focus our emotions. Make time throughout the day to be present mind focused – even if it’s just for a minute every hour – you can even set an alarm.
We spend too much time in our heads – we work in our heads all day, come home and suddenly get into bed and we’re expected to be in the body, but if we haven’t trained mind to be in the body then it’s no wonder people struggle to make that leap.
“the body is always present, so focus on the sensations of the body to help the mind rest in the moment”
To deal with that, first you need to work with the mind and find techniques to still the mind and be present in the moment. Find ways that work for you – lots of people find mindfulness or meditation helpful. While the mind can travel to the past and future, the body is always present, so focus on the sensations of the body to help the mind rest in the moment.
You might focus on a particular part of your body – your breathing, your feet, your hands – all things that are happening in the moment. That’s the first fundamental thing – becoming present with yourself and your partner. When the mind is focused in the moment it doesn’t need to get anxious about the future and the past.
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