Self, Sex

The Deep Connection Between Your Low Sex Drive And Body Image Issues

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How Low Sex Drive Can Be Linked To Body Image Issues

Somehow, lying on the massage table face down and naked made me an easy confessor to my massage therapist, especially when she discovered I was a life coach.

Sasha (not her real name) and I had previously discussed her breast reconstruction due to a rare non-cancerous health issue. And she’d shown me updated photos of her nine-month-old daughter.

So, when she said she hadn't been in the mood lately, I had an idea what part of her challenge was: she was struggling with some body image issues that were seriously affecting her sex drive.

"This is your spa time and I want you to relax and not work. Can I make an appointment with you to dive into this topic?" We agreed to meet for coffee the next week.

Over coffee, I discovered I was right. She told me that since she’d had the baby, she felt fat and frumpy.

She explained how her new reconstructed breasts felt foreign to her: "I am still madly in love with him, but the thought of him seeing all of me naked stresses me out. I used to be hot, and now I’m just…ugh! I don’t understand! I used to love sex! But now, I just do it when it’s dark…and I’ve turned him down dozens of times."

Sasha isn’t alone in seeing a decline in her libido while she’s dealing with negative body image issues. Think about it this way: they say that your most important sex organ is your mind.

So if all you can think about is how unattractive you feel, then, of course, your mind can’t switch gears and suddenly feel like a sex kitten, can it?

There are many things that can make a person feel less than sexy: childbirth, weight gain, thinning hair, gravity’s effect on the body, and more.

When you also consider how the media influences folks on how they should look in order to be desirable, you can have a double whammy effect. We live in a society that seems to have a restrictive view of what is beautiful and/or sexy.

As researcher Melissa Fabello shares, "Because the myths that we internalize about our bodies have a direct impact on our ability to show up authentically in our a/sexuality."

The good news, though, is that your thoughts create your reality, so changing your thoughts about your body can help your self-esteem, build your confidence, and amp up your sex drive and low libido.

I know that can sound next to impossible to simply change your thoughts, so here are 5 tools to get you back on the path to loving your body and being to work out that mind-body magic. 

Commit to at least 30 days of these to give it time to sink in!

1. Spend some time in front of the mirror. 

Stand about a foot away from a mirror and look into your eyes. Not the floor, or your muffin top: your eyes. Linger here. Truly see the spark of your soul, see yourself for who you are right this moment. Then, mentally list your attributes.

Do you like your lips? The shape of your ears? How strong your arms look? The curve of your breast?

Anytime you begin to criticize any part of your body, shift that thought to something you love about your body. Complimenting yourself and speaking positively about yourself builds your self-esteem.

I know this can feel challenging, especially when you dislike (or hate) your body. Be patient, kind, and compassionate with yourself. Once you get about two weeks into this experiment, begin finding compliments to express about parts of your body you struggle with. This is a way to begin falling in love with yourself — all of you!

2. Dress to impress... yourself.

It’s hard to feel good about yourself when you wear sweatpants, no-make-up, and can’t remember the last time you brushed your hair or teeth.  

Do all the things you used to do when you are dating to make yourself feel confident and attractive, like going to the salon for a haircut or blowout or to get your nails done. Do you feel more confident when you have on make-up?

You aren't alone. Studies show that those who put on lipstick before a test scored better, which tells me it will give you a confidence boost!

What clothes makes you feel good about yourself? Don’t wait to buy new clothes until you lose weight, but something that fits — now — that you feel good wearing. Take a trusted friend with you if the dressing room mirrors add to your stress.

Don’t forget to pay attention to what you wear under your clothes. Buy yourself some bras and underwear that you feel good in. Experts found that wearing a Superman t-shirt under their clothes made wearers feel more confident, which translates to the bras and panties you choose.

Even if you are a stay-at-home mom, you see you. Commit to getting dressed — as in real clothes with a bra, your hair done, and full make-up — every day for the next 30 days.

3. Commit to body-positive daydreaming and journaling.

Did you know that subconscious mind does not differentiate between what is happening in reality and what’s imagined? This is why so many studies show that mediation works.

When you imagine wonderful things happening in your life — specifically focused on feeling good in your body, enjoying sex, etc. — your brain makes a chemical cocktail of in response to the feelings those daydreams create.

Just like a practicing gratitude creates new neural pathways in your brain, positive daydreaming also fires and wires new synaptic connections. Writing it in a journal allows you to revisit these positive thoughts when you’re having a rough day.

RELATED: 7 Hidden Reasons You Never Feel Like Having Sex

4. Take good care of your body.

If you fill your body with junk food, how can you feel good about it? Commit to a clean diet: real food like fish, chicken, vegetables, and fruit. Drink lots of water and cut back on sugar-filled drinks and alcohol. Don’t try a fad diet, just commit to feeding your body the best possible fuel. There is a mind-gut connection.

Commit to all the things you do for your body in the way of maintenance: brush and floss daily. Wash your make-up off before bed. Put lotion and sunscreen on. When you tend your body, it helps cement the thought that your body is worth tending.

Regularly move your body, too! The mere act of moving your body allows your mind to clear out negative thoughts. Take a walk. Rake some leaves. Mop the floor. Physical activity pushes good-feeling endorphins through your body. It helps, even when lacing up your shoes seems like more effort than sitting on the couch.

When you treat your body with loving care, your thoughts will be more loving towards your body.

5. Try the "Yes" experiment.

Are you in a relationship with a partner you love and trust? Then this experiment is for you. For the next thirty days, commit to agreeing to sex every time he (or she) suggests it. Yes. Every. Single. Time.

This is an experiment I’ve used with clients and every time they report how much happier they are by the end of it (including my clients in their 70s)!

Here’s why: First, you’ve already made the decision to HAVE sex when it’s offered, so there are no decisions (or excuses) for your mind to have to make. He's not deciding it for you, you have decided it. Second, it gives you the opportunity to get out of your head and just allow your body to send feedback to your brain, reminding you how much you enjoy sex.

Also, it does great things for your relationship. Rather than being something your partner has to "work" for or rewarded with if he’s good, you are taking any game playing out of the bedroom. 

No more constant pestering for sex, instead, as a couple you’re able to find a natural rhythm to your sex life that feels more organic which builds intimacy and trust. It also means that you won't get in a pattern of rejection that can damage your partner's self-esteem.

A couple of months after our chat, Sasha reported back to me that she and her husband are back to sex two or three times a week. Most importantly, she’s building a confidence with her body she hasn’t known in years.

These tools may not fix your body image — or sex life — overnight, yet they work. Be patient and compassionate with yourself. You have the power to create a fulfilling sex life and a better relationship between your mind and your body.

RELATED: 5 Weird Reasons Your Sex Drive Has Become Totally Meh

Debra Smouse is a life coach and author who discovered that when she fell in love with life, it loved her right back. Get a free e-book and a bi-weekly love note.