Did you know that the largest contributing factor to decreased intimacy in a relationship is stress?
This can be any type of stress. From parenting, work demands, family expectations, job loss, pandemic, etc. When you’re feeling stressed your body releases the stress hormone call Cortisol. Cortisol is meant to help you regulate your stress response, manage metabolism and deal with the inflammatory response of your body during hard times. It’s a powerhouse hormone that is meant to be a short term solution to a stressful event.
However, if you haven’t noticed, we have all kinda been in a prolonged stress event (ahem, the pandemic). So what happens if it’s prolonged? Nothing good.
High levels of Cortisol can lead to weight gain, fatigue, irritability, headaches, anxiety, depression, intestinal issues, increased blood pressure AND (low and behold) a significant decrease in libido. Let’s just say that feeling stressed isn’t sexy and doesn’t get anyone in the mood.
And being in a pandemic means we’ve all been living this prolonged stressful situation – we have been dealing with increased levels of Cortisol on a daily basis by now and since we’re all so adaptive (as human beings), we’ve made this way of living our new normal.
Even though we’ve emotionally adapted (meaning we’re not having MASSIVE amounts of anxiety or fear), our bodies are still registering the stress and having a reaction to it.
But guess what?! We can counteract these stress hormones with some good hormones like serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin. How? With intimacy!! Isn’t that ironic? Cortisol will inhibit the sexy hormones needed for intimacy, yet intimacy can help release all those good hormones! Can you see how this presents a challenge in relationships?
But there is a way!
Start small. We often think that the solution to a problem has to be complex when in reality it can be simple – yet hard. Start from a place of attraction, which will trigger the hormones in your body. Ask yourself – what do you find attractive about your partner? Why did you choose them? What does your partner do to make you feel desired?
Therapy Tip: answer the above questions in a journal
After you’ve explored those questions, talk to your partner about them. When we are able to share our desires with our partner we can find a connection to those desires. We’re more likely to seek physical contact and connection when we feel a connection to desire.
Think about what it was like when you first started dating and had a strong desire for the other person. Connect back to that desire again, without an end goal in mind.
Therapy Tip: the couples that focus on sex will have less of it while those who focus on attraction and desire will have more sex
Rebuilding physical intimacy can take time but it can be done with small steps towards connection and desire – plus having intimacy reduces the production of the stress hormone, which in today’s world is a REALLY good thing!
For more helpful tips on rebuilding intimacy in your relationship watch my latest Coffee Talk “Rebuilding Intimacy in your Relationship” where I provide (in detail) the following three tips to building intimacy in your relationship…
Interested in booking a counselling session with myself or one of our other experienced therapists? Contact us here.