Nell Grecian, writer, sexpert, and author of Woman Up, on how to prioritise your own needs and leave the stress of Covid-19 behind
The uncertainty of living through a pandemic has bought with it an increase in anxiety, depression, and general mental health struggles. Obviously, these can have a huge impact on your life – not to mention your libido. So, whilst the start of this decade has been somewhat different to what we had imagined, that doesn’t mean the remainder has to follow suit, and that’s where I come in. I’m here to remind you of ten ways to bring back a more positive outlook towards both sex and yourself.
- Let’s start simple, shall we? Learn to like yourself. It’s a wonderful resolution, albeit a long-ass journey. It’s important to remember that what ‘loving yourself’ actually means is less thinking you’re 10/10 the entire time, and more understanding that your body naturally changes and grows and learning to adapt and move with those changes.
- The only opinion of yourself that you need to worry about is yours. Nobody else matters. Eleanor Roosevelt once said ‘No one can make you feel inferior without your consent’, and she was damn right.
- Practice affirmations. Take a moment every day to pause while you’re looking in the mirror and pick out something that you like about yourself or that you’re thankful for. This can be something aesthetic, like celebrating a good hair day, or something a bit deeper like thanking your strong legs for carrying you around all day or your brain for landing you that sweet promotion. Seriously, anything – as long as you’re speaking to your body in a positive way.
- Start talking about it. So many of us suffer in silence when we’re feeling inadequate, and that’s so wrong. If only we spoke out, it would become apparent that most people are in the same boat – so take five minutes out of that group Zoom call and let your friends know how you feel and how you’re working towards changing it.
- Use your voice. Talking about it works regarding sex, too. Sex positivity overall is a movement based on getting people to think about, talk about and look at sex as something normal and natural and not something taboo and seldom talked about. It’s important here to note that sex positivity also includes respecting someone’s privacy, so don’t feel like you have to pry too much into the bedroom antics of your besties. Just make sure they know that if they ever want to discuss it, you’re cool with that.
- Explore. Explore anything that you’ve been considering and were too afraid to do up until now – either on your own or with a partner. Treat yourself to a toy you’ve had your eye on or mention trying out a new fantasy or kink. There is no time like the present, and if your indefinite pleasure depends on it – there’s no time to wait.
- Take the pressure off. So many of us have pre-conceived ideas of what sex is supposed to look like. I for one have been brought up to consider sex as a penetrative act between man and woman, with the end goal of conception. And, if you’re watching porn, it always ends with some cinematic climax, and neither of these are always the case. Sex doesn’t have to be heterosexual, it doesn’t have to include penetration and it doesn’t have to result in orgasm. It should be pleasure focused (using resolution number six to find out what works for you) and not goal oriented.
- Just do it. If it’s good enough for Nike, it’s good enough for you. Fancy a shag with the guy who just bought you a vodka lime and soda two minutes before the 10pm curfew? Then you go ahead and shag him. The age old slut shaming views of being unattractive because of your number of sexual partners is utter pants. Do it or don’t do it – just make sure your decision is based on what YOU want to do.
- Respect yourself. Now, contrary to popular belief, self-respect doesn’t actually have anything to do with nudity or promiscuity etc – it just means knowing what situations to avoid and which are safe to put yourself in. It also means taking care in using contraception and not sexting your ex after accidently downing a few G&Ts.
- Resolutions in themselves are bullshit. And yes, I’ve just written an entire article about them. But these are really to be taken more as life decisions that you should consider adopting. The thing is, with your standard ‘resolutions’, they tend to be negatively tainted and promote the idea that you need to make drastic changes at the turn of each year to improve your life. You don’t, you’re awesome just as you are, but if you want to feel a little better in yourself or about your sex life – I’ve got you.