The media doesn’t always depict the holidays as it really is. While TV and movies and billboards would have you believe it’s all sipping eggnog in front of cozy fires and sitting down to lavish dinners with family the reality, for most people, is a lot more hectic. Sweaty. Sometimes even soul-crushingly stressful. And the irony is that the disconnect between what we think we should feel and how we actually feel around this time of year can pile on even more pressure. We all like to feel grounded and balanced. But all the demands, the family, the food - it can get to be a lot to handle at this time of year.
But you know what can really help you cope with it all?
That’s right. You may not feel you have time for it or even be into it after a long day of rushing around, but prioritizing pleasure – whether alone or with a partner – might be just the thing you need to help you cope with stress and connect with yourself, your partner or both.
Here are some tips on how to, well, you know, do it.
Make a List, Check It Twice – and Stick to It
In order to prioritize pleasure, you have to spend some time figuring out what actually brings you pleasure. For those who aren’t prone to prioritizing themselves and their own needs, this might be easier said than done. So, the first step to putting pleasure on your holiday wish list might be make a list of what actually makes you feel awesome, says Chanta Blue, a sexuality and relationship specialist.
“The list can include sexual and non-sexual items, people and experiences,” Blue said. “When we are aware of what makes us happy or what turns us on, we are better able to attract it to our lives.”
But you also need to stick to that list.
“With identifying what brings us pleasure, we also need to make space to receive it into our lives. This may mean being intentional with scheduling time for ourselves during this hectic time of year,” she said.
So, if masturbation (or just a sexy, relaxing bath) makes you feel good, schedule time for it.
Dedicated masturbation time? Check.
A lot of the stress that pops up around the holidays comes from the drive to please other people – to entertain, to feed, to get just the right gift. You can balance things out a bit here by giving pleasure to your self. Masturbation is - quite literally - a way to love yourself and care for your body. If it's something you've been meaning to get to, stop putting it off! Shut out the noise, the to-do list, the stress (the kids!) and give yourself 20 minutes to just get off. An orgasm is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. (Toys can help😉)
Cozy Up By the Fire
You know how we said the holidays aren’t really about sipping eggnog in front of a cozy fire? Here's the thing: They can be. If you want to relax, you might just have to relax, let go and have that drink even when there are still things left on your to-do list. If you can do it with a partner, all the better. After all, cuddling releases feel-good hormones like oxytocin and helps you feel safe and calm on the most primal level.
Cuddling has also been shown to reduce blood pressure and increase bonding. It can also lead to sex.
“Cuddling your partner(s) before you start your day can help you feel supercharged for a sexual, sensual time before work or in the evening, it can help you wind down and let go of your day and it can help get your mind on sex,” says Katie Ziskind, a marriage and family therapist.
But even if you don’t have sex, you’ve gotten half the benefits just by getting close.
Give the Sweetest Gift
Good sex is about a lot more than friction. In fact, at a basic level, it’s mostly about touch. So, instead of rushing around for one more stocking stuffer, why not give your partner a gift that's both generous and free. There's a twist, though. The key is to really make it a gift for you too.
“I teach individuals to touch their partner for their own pleasure, not their partner’s pleasure,” says Xanet Pailet, an intimacy educator and author of Living an Orgasmic Life. “Think about it; if you are touching someone for your own pleasure, because it feels good for you, the likelihood of your gift of touch being received positively increases exponentially. When you touch for your own pleasure, you touch someone in a completely different way with a much more connected and sensual energy,” Pailet said.
You both come out feeling good. And really, isn't that what gift-giving should be about?
May the season be happy, cozy, warm and filled with all pleasure you can find.