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Are you taking care of your sensual self? Often our self-care routines involve taking care of our physical bodies or nourishing our minds. That’s why exercise, healthy eating, and meditation are common activities we can all find in our self-care toolboxes.
But as a sex educator, I often find myself wondering what self-care looks like for our sensual selves. I like to think of the sensual self as your inner vixen-- the part of you that is inspired by sexuality and arousal. It’s the primal energy and passion that increases your self-confidence and makes you feel sexy and invigorated.
Your sensual self is essential to your wellbeing and deserves to be cared for too! In fact, healthy sensual self-care activities can release the body’s “love hormone” oxytocin, which is known to reduce stress and support sexual and psychological health. Self-care is the ultimate demonstration of self-love. So how do you show love to your sensual side? Here are five rituals you can start incorporating into your self-care routine to help you tune into your sensual self:
To start, try putting on your favorite tunes at home and just letting your body move to the beat. Or you could enroll in a dance class near your home or work. If you’re in a relationship, ask your sweetheart to join you for a night of dinner and dancing. If you’re single, plan a friend date at a dance club or ask them to join you for dance class. Not only does dancing nourish your body physically, but it helps you find your body’s internal rhythm and learn to feel comfortable and aware of your body and the way it moves.
Schedule a lunchtime pleasure session
Sexual activity is proven to release oxytocin, which reduces stress, improves mental health and decreases muscle tension. Schedule a long lunch and rendezvous with your sweetheart or take your pleasure into your own hands (quite literally) and carve out time for a solo masturbation session. Try to focus more on the pleasure sensations you’re feeling and less on trying to reach orgasm or some other end result. When we allow ourselves to feel pleasure with no end result in mind, it can mitigate feelings of pressure, shame and stress.
Looking and feeling good is all a part of sensual self-care. Pampering yourself could mean going to the spa for a mani-pedi, making time for a facial or doing some “ladyscaping.” Try buying a new razor or scheduling that overdue waxing. If hair removal isn’t your thing, try using an exfoliating body scrub, bath bomb or body mask to leave your skin feeling soft and supple.
Give yourself an oil massage.
Did you know that the sanskrit word for “oil” is also the same word used for “love?” Self-massage with high quality, organic oils like sesame, jojoba, safflower or coconut oil can help the body release internal toxins, decrease the effects of aging, calm the nerves, lubricate the joints, increase stamina and soften the skin. Warm the oil first, then massage it into your skin starting at the top of your head with a scalp massage. Work your way down the body using longer strokes on your limbs and shorter, circular motions on your joints. Finish with a foot massage and allow the oil to absorb into your skin. After your massage, you should take a warm bath or shower and allow your body to air dry for best results.
Examine your lady bits.
Have a good look at your vulva and breasts by performing self-examinations. Though commonly called the “vagina,” the vulva is actually the part of your genitals that you can see from the outside. It’s made up of the labia majora and labia minora (commonly referred to as the outer and inner lips), and the clitoris. Try using a small hand mirror and spreading your labia with your fingers to perform a self-exam on your vulva. Look for any abnormalities like new moles, marks, legions, pain, rashes, lumps or bumps. Report anything abnormal or suspicious to your doctor as this could be a sign of infection, cancer or other serious conditions.When examining your breasts, start by looking in the mirror. Take notice of the shape, skin, nipples and vein patterns on your breasts when standing, with arms raised, and hunched over. Then perform a breast self-exam using the pads of your fingers (not the tips) to examine the breast tissue. Don’t panic if you find a lump or notice anything unusual-- 80% of lumps found during self-exams are NOT cancerous. Performing self-exams on the breasts and vulva at least once a month can help prevent sexual health concerns from escalating into larger problems later.
Now that you have a few ideas for ways to care for your sensual self, it’s time to put these thoughts into action. If self-love is demonstrated through self-care, then self-care can’t be a one-time endeavor. If you haven’t already developed a regular self-care routine, it’s important to remember to start small. Think about the small ways you can make a big change in your routine and reward yourself when you’ve made some progress.
You could start by carving out just one hour for sensual self-care every week to devote to one of the activities above. What are some other activities you can do to feel sexy and confident in your body? How will you regularly stimulate your sexual self? Use a journal to capture these thoughts and help you get started creating a sensual self-care routine of your own!