Fighting Stress: Tips From A Clinical Nutritionist
And How Sex Plays A Role In Our Overall Wellbeing
Stress is a common problem we all have to deal with in some way as part of modern-day living. Many factors can influence stress, like work or social pressures, impacting our health, including our sex life and sleep. Thankfully, diet and lifestyle practices will help combat this, and yes! It does include rubbing one out.
The effects of stress are insidious. Stress takes on all aspects of our health, including our libido. When cortisol (the stress hormone) levels rise for prolonged periods, our sex hormones become suppressed, lowering libido and decreasing the desire to engage in sexual activity. Ongoing stress can impact our pituitary gland, which controls the adrenal glands, thyroid, and ovaries. Without properly functioning ovaries, our menstrual cycle is adversely affected, which may result in irregular periods, disrupted hormones, and diminished libido. In short, too much stress can make your sex life suffer.
Sleep is needed for the brain to function correctly and for the body to restore itself. Sleep deprivation is associated with chronic health problems affecting how we think, learn, work, react, and interact with others. Unfortunately, inadequate sleep directly contributes to stress, just as stress contributes to sleep disturbances. Sleep deprivation disrupts our hormones and decreases testosterone, essential for female and male sex drive. Not getting enough sleep also negatively impacts our energy levels and mood, making us less likely to want to get between the sheets. A study suggests a good night's sleep can support a vulva owner's healthy arousal and sexual desire.
If you're looking for another reason to get your rocks off, remember that sex (of any kind) supports both stress management and better sleep. During sex (either with a partner or solo) and climax, the release of a chemical called dopamine gives us a sense of pleasure. Further to dopamine, another endorphin, oxytocin, is released, offering a sense of well-being, lowering cortisol levels, and exerting stress relieving and anti-anxiety effects. Getting off before bed may provide relief, relaxation, and sleepiness, so you can rest easy knowing that those Os may have helped get you there.
Everyone experiences stress; it is a normal response to challenging situations. It is not always possible to remove those stressors; thankfully, there are lifestyle practices that can support the management of stress.
8 Lifestyle Suggestions To Manage Stress
- Have sex and masturbate to relax (yes, please!)
- Practice good sleep hygiene habits
- Eat a balanced diet and correct nutritional deficiencies
- Try deep breathing exercises to support the nervous system
- Try mindfulness apps for cognitive therapy, stress reduction, meditation, or yoga
- Seek social support from family and friends- enjoy yourself and have a laugh
- Exercise in a way you enjoy that makes you feel good- increase your heart rate and get those endorphins
- Speak to a professional about your stress, like a counselor or psychologist
Sleep is the cornerstone of good health. Getting enough sleep is critical for supporting healthy hormones and stress responses. Good sleep should look like Good sleep 7-9 hours, about 30 minutes latency (time spent falling asleep), and waking up refreshed.
Six Sleep Hygiene Tips For A Better Night’s Sleep
- Establish a regular bedtime and waking time.
- Reserve bed for sleep and sex time spent in bed doing other tasks diminishes the association between bed and sleep.
- Ensure a dark, quiet, comfortable temperature for sleeping and ensure the pillow and mattress are comfortable.
- Avoid exposure to bright lights in the evening including
- Avoid blue light from screens 2 hours before bed
- Avoid mentally stimulating, stressful, or alerting activity within two hours of bedtime
In our clinic, Bare Health Studio, we believe variety in our diets is key for optimum health. There are, however, a few specific dietary practices that we encourage as part of a balanced diet for optimal stress management, improved sleep, and better sex.
A Balanced Whole-Foods Diet
Eating a balanced whole-foods diet is the key to supporting our bodies to manage the physical changes caused by stress, enjoy better sleep, and have healthy hormones. A whole-foods diet means eating a diet with minimally processed foods, with foods as close to their natural state as possible, thinking more from the earth and less from a packet.
For optimum health, we recommend a diet high in mixed vegetables and fruit, with legumes, whole grains, lean protein from animal and plant sources, healthy fats like nuts, seeds, cold pressed oils, and fermented foods to provide an array of essential nutrients.
Eat Protein With Every Meal
Protein is essential for neurotransmitter production and hormone synthesis- without it, there can experience negative impacts on our stress response, sleep, and hormone health.
Protein sources include fish, meat, poultry, quinoa, legumes, dairy, eggs and nuts, and seeds.
Enjoy Dark Leafy Greens
Dark leafy greens are essential in the Bare Health Studio kitchen. Dark leafy greens, such as spinach, chard, kale, and rocket, are a brilliant source of magnesium, an essential nutrient.
Magnesium is fundamental for nervous system support, stress management, and regular restful sleep.
Cut out or lower stimulants such as soft drinks, sugar, caffeine, and nicotine intake, especially before bed; these will make it harder to fall asleep, shorten sleep duration and reduce our ability to deal with stress. Also, be conscious that alcohol can lead to sleep disturbances, increase stress, and deplete nutrients essential for nervous system support.
Stress can negatively impact sleep and our desire to get sexual. Fortunately, including better lifestyle and diet practices can support the management of both. Remember, if sex with a partner is the last thing on your mind, a little solo afternoon delight shouldn’t be because masturbating will help with stress management, and you’ll reap the benefits.
Anushka Malcolm, Clinical Nutritionist at Bare Health Studio
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