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What's sexual self-care all about?

Annabelle wearing a polka dot dress stood in a dining room
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Lovehoney's sexual health expert Annabelle Knight explains all things sexual self-care.

The term 'self-care' has become a bit of a buzzword over the last few years.  And while the term clearly means lots of different things to different people, at the core is a pretty simple idea: Actively taking control of your personal wellbeing.

From using mindfulness techniques to help you focus on the moment to, taking the time to learn about your likes and dislikes everyone can introduce a little bit of self-care into their sex lives, too.

Here's how...

Get to know your own body by masturbating

You've probably familiar with mindfulness, it’s a popular term which has been making the rounds for some time now.

Mindfulness is the process of bringing your attention to the present moment and focusing on your body, senses and feelings. It's usually associated with meditation, but you can easily apply the same technique to your sex life, whether you're single or coupled up.

We have busy lives, and busy minds that can easily become distracted. Ever found yourself thinking of other things during sex or masturbation? When you feel your mind drifting, try to bring your awareness back to the now. Focus on your breathing. On the feeling of your fingertips on your skin, and the way your body responds to your own touch.

Being fully present during your self pleasure practice can help you feel more connected to your body, and to your sexuality. And that connection can help you to be more accepting and appreciative of your own body and the amazing things it's capable of.

Slow things down

Whether you enjoy masturbation right when your alarm goes off, or a quick way to release sexual tension, there's no denying a functional solo session can be satisfying. But slowing things right down every now and then can have pretty amazing results.

After all, when it comes to mindful masturbation, it's the climb that counts.

Be more playful. Tease yourself. Touch everywhere but there. You may know exactly what buttons to press, and in exactly what order, but where's the fun in hitting them all right away? If you take the focus off the end goal – aka the orgasm – you'll be able to enjoy the journey. And you could be in for a pretty explosive orgasm when you finally give in.

Try edging. Bring yourself to the brink of orgasm, building up the sensations until you can't take it any longer. You can do this manually, or use a toy with a wide vibration range, starting on a low rumble and building to an intense buzz.

Create the right mood

Setting the mood for your solo pleasure session is a great way to show yourself love.

That means creating the perfect environment for pleasure – whatever that looks like for you. You might feel more comfortable in a warm, cosy room, or you might want to remove any niggling reminders of the outside world, like stacks of work or piles of dirty washing. Make your bedroom a positive place to be and you'll be able to focus and let go of stress and inhibitions.

You might feel sexiest in the bathroom, in a deep bubble bath with no interruption and your favourite vibrator. If that's the case, make sure you schedule your alone time for when you're on your own in the house, or let your housemates/partner/family know you need an hour to yourself.

And speaking of time, this is one of the most important things you can give to yourself, whether it's 20 minutes, an hour or a whole afternoon. Check out our guide to improving your sex life for more tips.

Experiment with sex toys and lingerie

It might seem self indulgent, especially if you're a naturally nurturing type, but spoiling yourself is a basic part of sexual self-care.

Self-gifting doesn't have to mean giving yourself something physical, or even spending any money. Although buying yourself that sex toy you've been eyeing up is one way to show yourself love, there are plenty of other ways to do it.

Take a naked selfie, and instead of being self critical, focus on the things you like most about your body. Put on the lingerie you feel most confident and sexy in, and notice how it makes you feel.

Taking care of your own needs is just as important as an act of kindness aimed at someone else. It can take a bit of practice, but it's worth it, trust us.

Communication = pleasure + consent

Whether you're in a couple or you're single, communication and sexual self-care go hand in hand.

Asking for what you want means bravely and honestly speaking up for your needs and desires. And saying what you don’t want and where your boundaries are is essential for establishing clear consent.

That might mean asking your partner to touch you in a certain way, asking them to explore a fantasy with you, or bringing up something you're not happy with within your sex life or relationship.

Or, it might mean giving yourself permission to wholeheartedly explore your sexuality and find out what works for you, whether that's with a new sex toy, a new sexual position or a new person.

We all receive negative messages that hinder us from being true to ourselves and embracing our sexual selves. But the greatest act of self-care is to let yourself be yourself, without apology or shame.

Be true to yourself, and you may well find yourself on a path of sexual discovery that leads to greater pleasure and self acceptance.

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