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How to Get Out of Your Head During Sex

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Yes, it can be done!

If you’ve talked with a friend recently, chances are they’ve mentioned how work or school is keeping them busy. In fact, maybe you bonded over how little time you have for hobbies and extracurricular activities.

We all try and keep a healthy balance between work and play. But it’s often easier said than done. It’s normal for our bosses and teachers to put pressure on us to be productive. But this pressure can make us feel too busy to relax. It makes us think about what we could be doing instead (like working on a class project that’s due soon, or completing an expense report for a supervisor), and it can even make taking a break seem like a waste of time.

This pressure to be busy can also make it hard to be intimate with our partners. Consider this: sex is a wonderful thing. But not if you can’t stop thinking about other stuff you have to do, like loading the dishwasher or paying the cable bill.

Luckily, there are ways to prevent your to-do list from distracting you in the bedroom. We asked Dr. Megan Stubbs, a board-certified sexologist, relationship expert and body image specialist, for some tips on how to keep your responsibilities separate from your sex life. Read on to learn her recommendations (Spoiler: one is to have a birth control plan in place beforehand, which the providers at your nearest The Right Time health center can help you with!).

Address your birth control needs before things heat up

Some people find it’s challenging to enjoy sex if they’re worried about getting pregnant or an STI. A good solution in this case is to secure a method of birth control before it gets too steamy in the bedroom. Dr. Stubbs says, “Having a birth control routine beforehand makes it easier to get into the mood and the space of being sexual. This will also help you set aside time to have a full sexual encounter.” When you visit the providers at your nearest The Right Time health center, they can recommend a method that will help you enjoy sex with your partner by giving you the comfort of knowing you’re both protected.

Take a look at your environment

Distractions are everywhere, including in your bedroom (or wherever else you have sex). If you struggle to keep your mind clear during sex, Dr. Stubbs recommends removing anything from the room that can cause your mind to wander. She says, “Look at your environment. Is the TV on in the background? Turn it off. Get the dirty laundry out of your eyesight and take the phone off the nightstand. Get outside influences out of your life for this little bit of time.”

Experiment with having sex more slowly

If you find it’s hard to focus on sex because your brain is stuck in task mode, try setting aside more time for it than you usually do and go at a slower pace. Dr. Stubbs says, “We think that sex doesn’t take time, or that we shouldn’t have to take time to have sex. We’re all about instant gratification these days. But slow down, take it slow.” Changing the pace of your actions will draw you into the moment by calming your nervous system and connecting your brain to what your body is experiencing. You can start this process by practicing coherent breathing, where you inhale to the count of six and exhale to the count of six. You can also practice avoiding multitasking. This will train your brain to focus on one thing at a time.

As you give these recommendations a try, here are a few things to keep in mind. First, it’s normal for random thoughts to pop into your head when you don’t want them to—that’s what random thoughts do. They are a part of life, and everyone experiences them. The ultimate goal is to learn how to manage them—it’s not to never have another random thought ever again. Second, some of these suggestions might take a bit of practice. Try not to get discouraged if one of them doesn’t come naturally to you. And third, intimacy in real life looks a lot different than it does in movies and on TV. You don’t have to make your sex life into something that isn’t right for you.

Updated January 2020

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