Stress and sex: nine ways to keep it fun and stress-free

Let’s face it: putting the pressure on doesn’t make it happen quicker or better. Adding extra stress to your intimate relationships isn’t going to make them better or more fulfilling, in fact, the opposite may be true.

Sex and intimacy are good for us for a whole host of reasons – not least that studies have shown it can be a great form of stress relief.

But if you’re feeling overwhelmed and want to relieve the pressure, here are some ideas for focusing on pleasure instead of stress

Get in the mood

1. Start off differently 

One of the most nerve-wracking parts of getting things started can be suggesting it. Whether you’ve just met or you’ve been married for thirty years, for lots of people the underlying sense of anxiety about saying your desires out loud can be the biggest hurdle. So, it’s little wonder that many of us rely on tried and tested moves to initiate sex. But trying something new can be exciting for you and your sexual partner or partners. Suggest something and see what happens.

2. Remember past experiences

Lots of people have previous sexual encounters, that they find themselves fantasising about time and time again. But have you ever shared that recollection to turn up the temperature on your sex life? Talking about past sexual and intimate experiences and what made them so enjoyable is a great way to celebrate your sexuality past, present and future. For those in relationships, it’s probably best to stick to memories you’ve made together rather than with other people unless that’s your thing, in which case go for it!

Try something new

3. Talk dirty to me

Sometimes the anticipation is just as pleasurable as sex itself. Why not try prolonging the suspense by spending an evening talking about what you’d like to do together without ever allowing yourself to touch?

Who knows, you might even discover a secret desire you never knew existed.

4. Get playful

Everyone loves unwrapping a present – how about trying something different? Sex toys are a great way of exploring new desires and pleasures together and on your own. Availability and options go well beyond the traditional vibrator. From massage oil to special pillows to get you into the most pleasurable position, from wearables to tongue vibrators, there are options to everyone’s liking.

5. Have some alone time, together

Do you enjoy the thought of a front-row seat to someone’s moment of ecstasy? As nice as it is to experience those feelings together, it’s a totally different experience to watch someone else, take that journey solo. Masturbation and self-pleasure can relieve stress, tiredness and even pain -- and watching that can be a real turn-on. So consider giving yourself and your partner or partners a moment of joy and a show.

6. Practice mindful sex

We all know mindfulness can be good for our mental health, but did you know it can help you enjoy sex more too? Once you’ve gotten into the habit of mindfulness, try practising while having sex -- focusing on specific sensations, touch and the feeling of what you’re doing. If you notice your thoughts drifting towards those easy peelers you forgot to add to the shopping list then let those thoughts go and keep your attention on the here and now. Enjoy the moment.

7. Leave the bedroom behind

Have you had sex in every room of your home? If not, now might be the time to start ticking some spaces off your bucket list. Just because your bedroom is where the bed lives doesn’t mean your sex life has to begin and end there. The office, the bathroom and even the kitchen all have their individual perks that can help you de-stress. 

Build strong foundations

8. Download the Paired app

Paired is an app which gives you and your sexual partner or partners the opportunity to learn about each other through fun and useful conversations, quizzes and games. Backed by leading experts and research, an independent study found that couples who used Paired for three months saw a 36% increase in the quality of their relationship. From dos and don’ts in the bedroom to get in the mood - there’s plenty of sexy-themed content to help you discover new parts of each other.

9. Play a game

Instead of finishing the evening in front of the TV, why not try a couple’s deck of cards. There are all different kinds of card games for couples that offer structure and support for conversations about sex and intimacy. If you don’t know where to start, these games are the perfect way to build up your confidence and your ideas.