Your brain really CAN improve your sex life.
Your partner seduces you into the bedroom. You take off your clothes, climb into bed and ... start thinking about the laundry, your belly pooch or the fight you had with your boss. If this happens to you when you hit the sack, you're not alone. Many women's minds turn to everything but pleasure during sex.
Women are natural multi-taskers, which is helpful in daily life, but can distract us in bed when we should be focusing only on our pleasure and our partner. In addition to life's responsibilities, we bring emotional troubles into the bedroom, which can take away from our enjoyment — sexual and otherwise.
"It's not abnormal for women to get into an argument and fixate on it," says Dr. Debra Laino, a certified sex therapist and relationship counselor. "Women have a tendency to get stuck on things more than men do."
Body image issues also follow us into bed. One study found that one in twenty women had never had sober sex and that nearly half preferred getting tipsy before getting down, most likely so they could feel more secure. Another study found that women with a positive body image found it easier to orgasm.
Any of these distractions can ruin what should be a good time. Fortunately, there are ways you can re-train your brain to embrace the positive and pleasurable during sex, and leave the stress and insecurity out. Here's how to start.
1. Get out of the house.
You can't go on vacation all the time, but you can spend $50 on a cheap motel. The change of scenery can distract you from your everyday worries.
"A hotel room is one of the things that takes you out of your environment," Dr. Laino says. "You're not thinking about the past and the future."
2. Let the government handle the economy.
We're all concerned about money and job security, but you have to stop these stressors from disrupting your sex life. Only let yourself worry about them for thirty minutes a day and no more. Soon, this designated "worry period" will allow your brain to relax more easily in bed.
3. Schedule relaxation time with your partner.
After you've finished with your window of fretting, it's time to relax with your partner. Taking just thirty minutes or an hour after the kids have gone to bed helps you stay connected and increases happiness, which will make your romps more rewarding.
4. Let the kitchen stay messy.
Trick yourself into realizing that it's OK to skip a chore by leaving the dishes in the sink overnight. The house and your life don't fall apart, do they? The more often you let yourself off the hook, the less your brain will nag you.
5. Have dinner on the floor — naked.
Doing everyday tasks differently is another way to get out of your element, which helps recreate the excitement you felt when you first fell in love and couldn't get enough of each other.
6. Boost your body image.
When you look in the mirror, compliment your skin tone instead of calling your thighs flabby. The more you tell yourself positive things, the more your brain will believe them.
"Your brain is convincing itself that you are what you say you are," Dr. Laino says. Also remember that your partner is most likely focusing on the things he likes about your body, not the things you hate.
7. Give yourself permission to be selfish.
You're not being selfish by carving out carnal time. Remind yourself that you're allowed to do things for YOU.
8. Spend time naked together.
The goal isn't to have sex, but to embrace, which will release the chemical oxytocin into the brain and make you feel safe and connected.
9. Don't make it about performance.
Forget trying to look or act like a porn star and focus on what feels good. If you feel anxiety or body insecurity creeping in during the act, take deep breaths in through your nose and out your mouth.
"It's putting oxygen in your system and disrupting the anxious thought you had to make you focus on sensations in your body," Dr. Laino says.
10. Leave some things out of the bedroom.
Talk about serious stuff with your partner in a neutral place so your mind doesn't associate the bedroom with fighting or heavy conversation. This includes, but isn't limited to money, parents, the kids or religion. Follow these tips and you'll help keep the brain doing what it's supposed to be doing during intimacy: sending you love and pleasure feelings, not raining on your parade.