How to use masturbation as self-care during lockdown

It’s Masturbation Month, which is good news because we have plenty of time on our hands to get to know ourselves more intimately.

No social plans, no hook-ups, no dates, suddenly we have endless empty evenings and weekends ahead of us, and what better way to fill that extra time than by indulging in some self-pleasure.

But masturbation can be about so much more than a simple release of sexual frustration. It can teach you about your own body, improve your experience of pleasure and act as stress reliever.

Mia Sabat, Sex Therapist at Emjoy, says masturbation can actually be a really useful form of self-care that can help you cope with some of the stresses of lockdown.

How can masturbation function as self-care?

The mainstream image of self-care is usually lounging in a bubble bath with a sheet mask and a glass of wed wine. But self-care is about more than just what cosmetics companies are trying to sell to us.

‘Taking care of yourself implies attending to your needs and enjoying your body without feeling guilt or remorse,’ explains Mia. ‘Respect and self-knowledge are the basics of self-care.

‘Is there anything more important than knowing what we want and how we want it? In the end, you are the love of your life, so having a date with yourself from time to time is very natural.’

Mia explains that when we masturbate we release endorphins – the hormones that promote well-being – much like when we go for a run or have sex. And endorphins are incredibly powerful.

‘Masturbation is a wonderful way to combat stress and even reduce pain (orgasms are a great pain reliever when you have menstrual pain),’ says Mia.

‘In addition, more and more studies and research are concluding that masturbation and sexual stimulation benefit your overall health: it reduces stress, improves the immune system, helps to exercise the pelvic floor, and helps to improve sleep.

‘Other great reasons are because it is enjoyable, because you want to do it and because you like to discover yourself.’

How do you switch off anxieties to get in the mood?

We get that a global pandemic might not be the biggest turn on. Often, anxieties, stresses and worries can black your ability to get turned on – you might find that even if your brain wants to masturbate, your body isn’t responding because of underlying stress.

‘The best way to clear your head is to connect with yourself via both your senses and your mind,’ suggests Mia.

‘Your imagination is a powerful resource, so to use it to its full potential, you should get in the right headspace.’

Giving yourself a break from racing thoughts and worries can be so helpful in improving your overall well-being. Mia says that a good way to get in the mood is to distract yourself using your different senses.

‘Depending on your personal preferences, you can use scents, music or an erotic story to get into the right headspace,’ she says.

‘My best tip is to keep in mind that the only goal is to enjoy yourself! There’s no need to put more pressure on yourself.’

Tips to set the mood for self-pleasure

If you feel nervous or anxious, you can start with a simple meditation to disconnect and be present.

Play some sensual music and just dance, enjoying the movement of your body.

Listen to erotic audios and let yourself fly away with fantasies.

Look some erotic art or erotic photography. You can find many Instagram accounts that are really interesting!

Watch a feminist porn movie.

Many people feel a sense of shame or stigma around masturbation, which can make it hard to let go. Particularly when there is so much hardship and negativity going on the world.

But Mia says it’s important to let go of this shame and understand that there is no reason to feel bad about masturbating, because it is as valid a form of self-care as running a bath, cooking a healthy meal or going for a run.

‘We must understand that self-pleasure is just one more way of caring and showing love to ourselves,’ she says. ‘Our body experiences emotions in a thousand ways and in these moments we are living through, it’s normal for us to go from joy to sadness in a short period of time.

‘In the same way that we would not feel bad about taking care of our body or mind, by eating well and exercising, there’s no reason to feel bad about giving ourselves love. But if at some point you can’t, you don’t have to feel bad for it either.’

Lockdown could be an opportunity to close the pleasure gap

There is still a pleasure gap that is disproportionately affecting women. Men are much more likely to report that they reach orgasm in sex than women, and we are repeatedly told that orgasms are much harder for women to achieve.

Mia believes that normalising masturbation and self-pleasure for women can help to close the gap and redress the balance.

‘This lockdown is a good opportunity to dedicate time to focusing on yourself and exploring your body,’ say Mia.

‘We have enough time to get to know our bodies better and understand how they react, trying out new habits and ways to touch ourselves when we’re on our own.

If you get to know your body better, you will be able to communicate those newly discovered needs and preferences when the time comes, and your partners will be able to fulfill them because you’ll know yourself better.

‘We just have to place ourselves in the epicenter of pleasure.’

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