01 Apr Finding pleasure even while social distancing
I woke feeling heavyhearted this morning, a night of mild anxiety surfacing in disconnected bits of dreams. Monday the governor of Virginia called for a more stringent shut down–physical/social distancing with penalties for those who went out and congregated. I’m already on Day 19 of my own social distancing as I try to do my part in slowing down the spread. And protecting my own health. Admittedly the idea of another 70 days is daunting.
The challenge for many of us, those of us who are single, is that we are alone. There is no opportunity for any of those touches and other means of affection and support one gets from having people around. Yes, we can call and Skype and Facetime, but it is the human touch that’s missing.
On the other hand, having to be contained in a small space with someone for weeks on end might be equally tough in different ways.
We are all anxious. For the people in our house, for the friends and families we can’t see right now, and for the greater humanity experiencing so many challenges. And we will make it to the other side. Somehow.
What can you do right now to help you get through this? I made a pledge this morning to not look at Facebook or the news before doing some writing. I’ve made a list for the day to keep me on track. And I’m thinking of what reward to give myself later–something I can look forward to.
Difficult times call for summoning up all our resources. My daily journaling ends with a few words about the things I’m grateful for and what I like about my life, my body or whatever comes up in the moment. I try not to focus on negatives. Some days it is easier than others.
But it’s obvious that what’s missing in my life and probably for many of you right now is human touch. Skin contact. Hand holding, kissing, stroking. All that things that make us feel good and that stimulate our bodies.
If you’re fortunate enough to be social distancing with a partner, or maybe even a roommate, you hopefully have an opportunity for touch. It is so important. Just because we are alone doesn’t mean we shut down. We can engage in self-touch, so here’s a little motivation for you.
A recent British study observed subjects masturbating to study its effect on white blood cells. Masturbation, or self-pleasuring as I prefer to call it, is a great way to stimulate the hormone oxytocin, which is known as the ‘cuddling hormone’. As well, self-pleasuring can help reduce pain, ease our anxiety and give us a welcome distraction.
The researchers concluded: “…the results were clear and it was confirmed that sexual arousal and orgasm increased the number of white blood cells and boosted the immune system – so thank you volunteers.
More than that, though, orgasms in general help you relax and sleep better, too – and more sleep means more time for your body to repair and recover.”
The message here is clear: self-pleasuring is a good tool for these times we’re experiencing. If there was ever a time to start, this is it. Note that the study speaks to arousal as well as orgasm. You don’t need to achieve a climax in order to stimulate a sense of well-being in your body. Doing something arousing is also beneficial–and fun.
If you don’t already self-pleasure, start slow. Maybe you use your hands in the shower instead of a washcloth. Or apply moisturizer in a way that feels sensual–focusing on your skin and hand movements. It’s part about the sense of touch and part mindfulness.
This is an excellent time to experiment with your body, to learn your patterns of arousal. What does it feel like to play with your nipples? Are they sensitive? What do you like and does it create a greater sense of arousal? Or not. How about your scalp? Or stroking your face softly? Practice! For fun. Out of curiosity. With a toy, without.
What if when you’re feeling anxious, or bored, or restless you took yourself off to someplace private, if you’re not alone, and spent fifteen minutes connecting with your body? You have everything to gain and nothing to lose as I see it.