Stress is one of the most common contributors to low sexual desire and the holiday season has proven to be one of the most stressful times of the year!  But don’t let holiday stress affect your sex life!  Sex and the holidays do not need to be mutually exclusive events!  Here are some tips to make sure that this holiday season you have less excuses for why not to have sex and more heat in the bedroom, or in front of a warm fireplace, or under the mistletoe or…

1. Plan Ahead

Try to schedule everything.  Around the holidays, our routine goes out the window and as creatures of habit, that immediately sends us into a stress filled tail spin that can spiral to the point of breaking.  Make lists, schedule your week, fit everything in.  If you aren’t usually an agenda or planner person, use one to stay organized during the holidays.  Put your every day tasks that you might forget in the planner in one color and holiday tasks in another color.  Be creative on keeping your self organized, from shops you need to check out to what you are having for dinner.   Use the calendar option on your smartphone to assist with this. Schedule things in advance and do not wait until the last minute.  The term “waiting until the last minute” is in and of itself stressful- just don’t do it!  Scheduling and planning are huge stress reducers.

If you don’t regularly plan sex with your partner, maybe stressful holiday times are a great time to start intentionally setting aside time for intimacy with your partner.  And just because you set aside some time, doesn’t mean you have to have sex.  In fact, pressure to have sex is another desire killer!  Just set aside some time each week (at least once a week) to have some alone time with your partner.  It doesn’t have to be sexual, just close and intimate.

2.  Blow Off Steam

Whatever you put into your body in stress needs a place to leave your body (and screaming at your family members does not count as stress leaving your body).  If stress can’t or doesn’t leave, it can be manifested in muscle pain, emotional distress, gastrointestinal issues, relationship concerns, sleep disturbances, low sexual desire, and/or complete overload.  Make time to de-stress and blow off steam.  Exercise, meditate, do yoga, read, knit, play a musical instrument, walk your dog, do anything to blow of the steam before the tea pot starts to whistle.

Having sex is another way to blow off steam and provided you do not have issues with compulsive or unhealthy masturbation, taking time to be sexual with yourself is also a great way to blow off steam.  Easy on the pornography, or better yet, use your imagination or read an erotic holiday story for a fun holiday sexual fantasy with (or without) your partner!

steam train photo

3. Nourish Yourself

You can’t expect your body to act in top condition if you aren’t giving it the necessary fuel it needs to run smoothly.  Make sure that you still take time to eat healthy food and snacks.  Not traditionally a healthy eater?  Try to give yourself one healthy snack or portion of your meal a day and pack an apple or carrot sticks in your bag before you leave to provide you with a healthy option.  If you are a stress eater, know that you aren’t “rewarding” yourself when you eat unhealthy.

Being sexual with yourself or with a partner can be very nourishing.  Take the time to go slow and enjoy the sensual experience of nourishing yourself (and your partner) sexually.  A fine meal at a nice restaurant is a wonderful form of foreplay and is made to nourish our sensual needs too.

4.  Play and Laugh

All too often, we forget to enjoy the holidays for what they are for: family and friends.  We get so caught up what we need to do or get, where we need to be (5 minutes ago!), and how we need to act.  Let your hair down a bit, kick off your boots, and play with your cousin’s dog, sit with the kids, and tell funny stories.  Playing and laughter will reduce your stress and give you a good recharge to why the holidays can be fun.

And that goes for times in the bedroom too- have fun with sex and recognize that laughter is VERY sexy.  Don’t take things so serious and try new things.  Most couples wish their sex was less serious and more playful!

5.  Redefine

If you walk in the door thinking your holiday dinner is going to be a disaster, the likelihood of it being something different is reduced.  Redefine the holidays as an opportunity to check in with family members, see babies and kids grow, and catch up on big family milestones.  Even if those “disaster” characteristics are present, it doesn’t cost you anything to say silently to yourself: “At least my daughter-in-law has a brain” instead of critiquing her differing political views.  Redefine how you look at the negative aspects of the holidays and challenge yourself in being more positive.

Redefining sex might be long overdue- do you look at sex as a chore, as something you just do to “get it over with”, or something that is necessary to keep your marriage/relationship together?  If any (or all) of these apply, it is definitely time to redefine how you look at sex.  Sex is an opportunity not an obligation.  If this is how you feel, it might be time to contact a qualified sex therapist for assistance.  See information below.

6. Manage Your Finances

Give only what you can, and be okay with that.  Finances are a major source of stress for people and add the holidays in the mix and it can get overwhelming.  Most of us can understand that gone are the holidays in the thousands, and here (to stay it seems) are the holidays where it is more about family and friends than giant presents and extravagant gifts.  The best gift you can give (to yourself and others) is staying within your budget this holiday.

Finances and sex are two of the most common topics couples argue about.  Consult a qualified financial coach to assist you and your partner with managing everyday finances as well as long-term financial considerations.  Set out a plan and stick to it, and recognize the holidays aren’t the best time to address ongoing financial habits (as this is the most vulnerable time for spending).  If you haven’t come up with a plan yet, and are already way over budget, try to do little things to keep the stress off.  Try not to let stress and worry about finances affect your sex life.

7.  Do Good

Even though this is a very stressful time, volunteering your time, donating items, participating in charity events, and helping out others is a great way to relieve stress.  I would recommend doing it in person (even if you don’t feel like you have one more minute to do anything more, make a minute).  You would be surprised how less stress you feel when you give to others and gain a little perspective.

And when it comes to doing good for others, give your partner some extra attention around the holidays.  Perhaps doing something you both don’t do that often, but you know you/they like.  Give to give, not to receive.  No reciprocal intimacy can be very rewarding (and erotic).

8. Accept and Allow

Holidays are often a time when individuals and families have a lot of stress over a loss.  This can be a loss of a family member, a loss of functioning, a loss of a pet, a loss of a job, a loss of relationship, or any other loss.  Because the holidays are a bench mark for the year, it is easy to get into the habit of thinking “I was doing this last year with so and so, and this year… nothing”.  Accept the fact that the holidays are hard and allow yourself (and others) the opportunity to grieve and express their grief.  If this time of year is especially hard, seek out help either from friends and family or from a counselor.

If you are mourning the loss of your intimate partner or intimate life or any loss at all, don’t use sex to replace the actual feeling.  Just feel and move through the feeling.  Real intimacy isn’t about escaping negative feelings, its about processing them and moving forward with them.

9.  Rebuild

Family dynamics.  What are the first words that come to mind?  Stress, anger, resentment, old memories, money?  If these are some words that come up for you, you are like many other families during this holiday time.  But instead of piling on more words to your destructive family relationship pile of negativity, why not take your shovel and scoop off a few from the top this holiday season.  At the very least, don’t add on any more, but I challenge you to try to let go of some of the old resentments you might hang on to because of stressful family situations.  Why should you be the one that has to?  Well you don’t have to, but you are reading an article on how to reduce stress during the holidays so maybe it is in your best interest to be the bigger person and get that shovel out.

If you are holding out resentments towards your intimate partner around the holidays, try to not let it get in the way of intimate time and rebuilding moments with them.  Sometimes, one can find themselves more committed to the resentment than the relationship.  Let go, if you can.

10.  Relax

The holidays can and are fun.  Make your friends and family and fun and food take priority over anything stressful.  Keep everything in perspective and relax and enjoy yourself.  Allowing yourself to relax is sometimes just as difficult as relaxing so take the time you need, a few deep breaths, and smile.

And there is nothing more relaxing than a steamy, sexy night with your partner (or yourself).  Remember that sex is a GREAT way to relax.  Don’t feel that way about sex?  Then call me and I can help.