The gift of self-love is what nourishes and fuels us to be happier and more relaxed throughout our day. In particular, I often advocate care for our own sexual wellness as a nourishing and essential form of self-love. Here, I outline four areas we can start to adopt in weaving sexual wellness care into our self-love and self-care lifestyles.
1. Create A Regular Self-Pleasure Practice
I always recommend creating a regular self-pleasure routine – as a way to take time out to understand what gives us pleasure and to allow ourselves to be in pleasure. This means that it’s a regular practice – every week for the same set of days and time. The goal of regular practice is to create a habit to up our pleasure tanks. Pleasure, in this case, is not just sexual but also sensual pleasure, soft pleasure, or joyful pleasure, which allows us to feel good and uplifted.
By creating a regular practice, we are constantly feeding our own pleasure tanks, exercising our own muscles of allowing more pleasure into our experience. Each self-pleasure practice can be the same routine for a few consecutive times, before switching it up to something else. To start with, I recommend working in some practices to focus on each of your five senses.
For instance, to create pleasure with touch – a few practices can be focused on giving yourself a massage, a way of giving your skin the self-love it needs. Some of the practices can be a little bit sexual and focus on sexual exploration, allowing us to understand what turns us on.
For the sense of smell, incorporate scents of essential oils into your bath or room and take time to soak it in, while observing which scents seem to uplift you more. For the sense of taste, take time to savor different types of cuisines or new dishes, allowing your tastebuds to discern what are some new tastes that seem to wake them up. For the sense of sight, explore new art, or wear the part of your wardrobe you are in love with and allow your visual senses to be nourished. For the sense of sound, dance to new tracks on your playlist, allowing the music to move you freestyle – this is especially good as work breaks, I often find myself more inspired after a ten-minute dance break.
2. Slow Down Your Skin Care
This might seem like an odd place to put under the care of sexual wellness at first glance. The key to this process is to slow down. I incorporate slowing down in my skincare routine because I’m looking to incorporate these practices into my lifestyle instead of adding on additional to-do’s.
To take care of our overall sexual wellbeing, we need to learn to be present in our bodies. A large part of that skill is in slowing down. This might not be possible given our other activities around work and the house throughout the day, hence incorporating it in our skincare routine allows us a pause and slow down button.
I love this practice because I take time to appreciate myself in the mirror, gently and lovingly apply my skincare as if I’m taking care of a very precious and loved person. And as I slow down my routine, I am being more conscious in how I appreciate myself, as I am, even if I am feeling more bloated that day, or my skin is breaking out that day or I am feeling less upbeat and generally not feeling a hundred percent. The added benefit is that your skincare products sit better on your skin and does what it’s supposed to do for your skin.
3. Understand Your Monthly Cycles
Women are often taught in the modern world that any changes through their monthly cycles need to be removed, hidden, or evened out like they are irregularities. Part of the path of self-love is about embracing all parts of ourselves, working together with our cycles instead of against our cycles.
Keep a simple diary of your cycles, making notes around any changes in how you feel, whether specific occurrences occur around cramps, headaches, bloatedness, specific cravings, etc. Over time, you can identify patterns around what works for your body in terms of the type of diet and activities that works for you at various parts of your cycle. If you note down occurrences and changes in your sexual desire and arousal patterns, you will recognize over time that there are specific times of the month that you might need longer foreplay and somewhere you don’t. This is extremely helpful to note that there is nothing wrong with you, just your body adjusting to different parts of your monthly cycles.
During the menstruation period, by observing my own patterns, I’ve recognized that I had lesser incidences of cramps and soreness while using sustainable products like reusable cotton pads, period panties, and menstrual cups, instead of plastic disposable alternatives. Self-love for your cycle is also taking care to reduce contact with plastic or chemical-laden products for your body. Particularly during this time, you might find yourself requiring more down-time. Recognize the need to be more gentle on your body during your heavier flow days, instead of trying to work against the current and deny your body the time to slow down.
4. Have Yourself Tested
If you are sexually active and/or have had multiple partners, take time to have yourself tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and for regular Pap Smear tests. Particularly for STD tests, there is sometimes shame around the thought of getting them done. However, this is important to ensure no existing infections that can causes issues internally when symptoms flare up. Importantly, these tests allow peace of mind and the ability to treat any issues at their early stages. Tests can be done at medical clinics or home tests from platforms like Ferne Health.
Adapting your lifestyle to incorporate these practices and habits takes time. On top of that, your needs change according to the life stage you are at. By incorporating care for our own sexual wellness practice by practice, we gradually heal our intimate relationship with ourselves as we continue to grow in our journey of self-love.
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