BDSM Sex Can Actually Cure Your Anxiety, Says Science

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It used to be if you wanted to hear about BDSM sex, you had to hunt for some dirty stories about bondage in furtive dark corners.

Although it's now known that people who have BDSM sex are healthier and less neurotic, this kink was still something secretive and vaguely dirty that no polite-minded person would ever talk about in public. 

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But now, thanks in part (she typed ruefully) to the success of books like 50 Shades of Grey, BDSM has become more and more mainstream.

People who might have gone a lifetime having perfectly reasonable vanilla sex have started to discover their kinky BDSM sides and more power to them.

Even people who aren't into BDSM don't look down their noses at this kinky lifestyle the way they might have in the past. 

BDSM sex has become so mainstream that science has even started researching it.

That's how you know your kink has arrived when someone is watching you engage in it whilst clutching a clipboard. 

A study by Northern Illinois University has found that BDSM sex can help increase mindfulness, reduce stress, make you hyperaware, and help people stay in the moment.

So yeah, it's basically like yoga but with optional full penetration. 

The researchers watched couples engaged in BDSM sex (those kinky little scientists) and discovered that they entered a state they called "flow", which is similar to the state an athlete gets when they are "in the zone."

This is also presumably the same state I get into when presented with a dozen hot chocolate chip cookies. 

The researchers say that "Flow is an enjoyable and pleasurable state that people get into when they are performing an activity that requires a high level of skill. It’s a state in which the rest of the world kind of fades away and somebody is concentrating very intensely only on what they are doing."

The researchers monitored the stress, testosterone, and cortisol levels of seven couples who engaged in BDSM sex. In addition to this easy-to-track physical stuff, they also recorded the couples' mood, closeness, and their "flow" state. 

All of the participants in the study reported being in a better mood after this kind of sex, and their stress levels were SUPER reduced after engaging in BDSM sex. 

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None of this seems that surprising to me at all. I'm a highly anxious person, and I have always maintained that part of what draws me to the BDSM kink is the intense feeling of relaxation it makes me feel. For me, it's partially giving up all of my worry and control to someone else that is so sensationally de-stressing. 

So it makes sense to me that there's a science to back up those very real feelings. 

You don't have to be a kinky person who is into BDSM sex to get your stress relief. There are plenty of other ways of reducing stress and anxiety, like going for a run or joining your church choir.

But if having rigorous sex is ever a cure for something, you can rest assured that this is the cure I will take. 

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Rebecca Jane Stokes is a sex, humor, and lifestyle writer who has been featured in CafeMom, FemPop, The Awl, Newsweek, and more. For more of her work, follow her on Twitter.