Some days, just seeing a pic of your celebrity crush might be enough to rev your engine. Others, getting in the mood may not come so easily. That’s totally normal.
“Our sex drive is so very reactive to everything that’s happening to us in our world and our bodies,” says Marianne Brandon, PhD, a clinical psychologist and co-author of Reclaiming Desire: 4 Keys to Finding Your Lost Libido. Think: annoyances at work, medical issues, sexiness-crushing side-effects of medications, hormonal changes, and any number of other outside distractions. And sometimes, that lack of desire to get busy can last weeks—even months.
But just because you’re not feeling particularly saucy right this second doesn’t mean you have to give up on the idea of getting in the mood. Actually, it’s all about taking the situation into your hands and playing up the things that are in your control.
Sure, sex drive ebbs and flows, but you can definitely boost your libido when you’re feeling a little blah. Once you find the thing (or things) that put you in the mood, you’ll be able to light your flame in no time. “The mind is a powerful thing,” Brandon says. “It can turn you off to sex, and it can turn you on to sex.”
So, if you’re ready to heat things up, prepare to get your head in the game because these sex experts have just the tips you’ll need to turn yourself on and bring sexy back.
1. Turn up the volume on sexy stories.
While visuals are a bit more common when it comes to porn, don’t underestimate the power of a good audio story. Holly Richmond, PhD, somatic psychotherapist, and certified sex therapist, recommends apps such as Dipsea which offers short sexy stories for you to get lost in. And if you’re in the mood for some fan fiction or user-generated smut look no further than Quinn, Literotica, and even Tumblr—all sites where the audience can submit their steamiest tales.
Pro tip: bring in the visuals yourself. While you’re listening, prop yourself in front of a mirror and reenact everything you’re hearing.
2. Get touchy.
Richmond says holding onto textures can get you feeling hot. Close your eyes and run your fingers over a soft blanket, strip down and lie in your softest sheets, or hold a leather jacket in your hands if the material gets you going. Desire, Richmond says, can be brought on by a range of stimuli and it won’t always be what you expect, so get handsy until you feel yourself react—maybe your nipples will feel hard or you feel a flutter in your stomach.
3. Do some breathwork.
The same way you might pant during sex or catch yourself taking deep or very shallow breaths when someone is touching you sensually, you can recreate the feeling simply by breathing the way you do when you’re turned on.
Richmond suggests pairing your breath work with kegels. “On the in-breath, pull up your pelvic floor and do your kegel, and on your out-breath release your pelvic floor,” she says. And it’s not unheard of to orgasm just by breathing, Richmond points out if you get really into it.
4. Send a sext or two.
Even if you don’t have someone to send one to, you can write out the sext and never share it with anyone. Heck, drop something steamy into your notes up. Just the process of typing out your fantasies and snapping a few hot selfies can you in the mood. Richmond also says you can reread old sexts someone’s sent you that you already know will do the trick.
5. Swipe through photos that get you going.
Can’t quite visualize that time you had sex on the beach or trying to tap into the memory of a hot quickie in the car? Look at photos, Richmond says. Well, maybe not of those exact moments, but a generic photo of a car or a beach can transport your mind to a time when you were aroused. Or if you’re one to take a sexy pic (or 10) flip through them to connect with a past self whose libido was pumping.
6. Take a pleasure class.
You’re never too old to go back to school. And how could you not want to when the class is about sex and pleasure? Richmond teaches a course on mindful sex for sex toy brand Dame and she recommends doing a quick search for the loads of other virtual courses you can take that tackle topics from squirting, to pleasure mechanics, to feeling more emotionally connected to your partner. And if you’re looking for something face-to-face, head to your local sex shop. “Many sex toy stores actually offer courses for their customers,” says Richmond.
7. Give yourself a massage.
If you find you’re not in the ~mood~ to get handsy, it helps to just do it anyway. Richmond says to grab your essential oils or your favorite lotion and get to work massaging your legs and feet. You might close your eyes and imagine someone you’re into is doing it, or you might just lean into the feeling of being touched.
“Touching your body for pleasure without the goal of orgasm,” says Richmond, is just as important as the hot and heavy stuff. Finding and tapping into what makes you feel good is the gateway to everything erotic, so start slowly and feel yourself up, you won’t regret it.
8. Light some candles.
Drawing on the senses is a biggie when it comes to feeling turned on, says Richmond. It’s how you communicate to your mind that you want to be in the mood. So when it comes to visuals and scents, Richmond says candles are the way to go.
Plus, while they create that sexy ambiance you’re after, they’re also great for wax play once you’re hot, bothered, and ready to get down to the good stuff. *Just make sure it’s a play-safe candle!
9. Listen to sensual music.
Make a playlist with your favorite sexy songs. Richmond says you might throw a little jazz in there or, if you already have a sex playlist that you put on when you’re doing the deed, see if it can do the work of getting you in the mood. Once you are, just hit replay.
10. Up the romance with food.
For the taste portion of playing on your senses, Richmond says chocolate-covered strawberries might do the trick or maybe a cheeseburger that reminds you of being out on a date. “Everybody’s sexual template is different, and when you really go through that desire arousal with the five senses it offers so much information.” Once you find the dish or the snack that gets you going, you likely won’t ever be at a loss again when it comes to feeling turned on.
11. Eat in a sensual way.
If slurping up oysters gives you the tingles, go for it. “It’s not so much the food, but how you eat it,” Brandon says. “What if you’re eating with your hands? Licking chocolate sauce off your fingers?” She suggests. Lean into tongue action, and savor the moment (and the chocolate).
12. Connect with your body.
Before getting hot and heavy, the first step to turning yourself on is feeling empowered in your body. “When you’re not confident and comfortable in your body, it’s hard to find pleasure,” Brandon says.
She suggests exercising, deep breathing, or spending time outside to feel more connected with your bod. “This isn’t about looking powerful or looking a certain way,” she says. “It’s about how you’re feeling on the inside.” Feeling yourself = feeling sexy.
13. Set the scene.
“Create a space in your home that feels inviting and sensual—not just calm, but body-aware,” Brandon says. Turn the lights down low, pull out the fluffy pillows and blankets, and press play on the tunes that create the ambiance that feels straight out of a steamy flick. Think less sex den, more seductive oasis of your lusty daydreams.
14. Take a bath.
Now that you’ve connected with your body, it’s time to turn up the eroticism, Brandon says. Even things that don’t seem to be sensual at first, like taking a bath, can help get you into the right mindset. Light a lavender candle to bring on the cuddly feels, and let yourself relax, lapping water against your skin. It’ll get you all hot and bothered feeling the sensations against your skin.
15. Masturbate (even if you don’t feel like it at first).
Not horny? No problem. “You can masturbate even if you’re not turned on,” Brandon says. “It can help you get into your body and feel those sexual feelings.” It sounds counterintuitive, but sometimes orgasm comes first, then comes arousal. Besides touting bonus health benefits like better sleep and less stress, it can also amp up your libido.
16. Give yoga a try.
When it comes to sex drive, sometimes you gotta go with the flow. Brandon says that practicing yoga or meditation might help you better tune into your desire and, ultimately, have better sex. To date, there are only a few small studies conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information digging into the connection, but think about it: Yoga is all about focusing on movement and breath. Sounds quite familiar, doesn’t it?
17. Queue up the hot visuals.
Yep, you saw this one coming. After all, some of us are visual learners, right?
If porn gives you an icky feeling (no shame either way), Brandon says you can get creative. Watching Harry Styles’ “Lights Up” orgy—ish music video, scrolling through Insta, or turning on femme-produced porn could be key to feeling that familiar warmth between your legs.
18. Read something spicy.
There’s a reason erotica fanfic like Fifty Shades and After drew cult followings. Brandon suggests seeing what’s out there in the erotica world. As you browse guilt-free, you might stumble upon the next enthralling, “I need to cool down” read. Even skimming sexy material—think articles like this or even sex toy reviews—can get your heart beating faster and fantasies swirling.
19. Explore your body.
Usual spots just aren’t cutting it right now? Take your sexscapade beyond the erotic areas, says Amy Levine, sex coach and founder of Ignite Your Pleasure. “For example, pressing the areas on the right and left of your labia majora where your leg meets your pelvis can be an amazing release of pressure,” she says.
As you slip into the sheets, try lightly running your fingers over your collar bones and gently squeeze your nipples. By getting handsy, you might even pick up a few tips to pass to your partner for later.
20. Let go of your to-do list.
Suddenly remembering a laundry pile just as the good part of your fantasy came up? Relatable.“Our lives pull us into our minds constantly,” Brandon says. “It’s hard to then jump into your body when you spent the last 16 hours in your head.”
Before your turn down the lights and start getting sensual, whip out a pen and paper. Jot down a to-do list you’ll plan to tackle after and only after you’ve turned yourself on and gotten it on. Put the list away, and get down to the business of the hour: feeling sexy. Being present creates the space for pleasure, Levine says.
21. Dance for yourself.
Lock your bedroom door, turn up a playlist of sexy and empowering jams (hey, Lizzo), and get your hips swiveling. Sure, shimmying in an empty room might feel awkward at first, but keep going. “Moving your hips and pelvis in a sensual way can be really helpful to embrace your erotic self,” Brandon says. No worries if you won’t bust these moves out in public. This private moment is all yours.
22. Put on lingerie…and strip down.
Along with dancing, Brandon suggests stripping for yourself, too. Peeling off a lacy number (worn on special occasions) in front of the mirror can make you feel like the star of the show. While you give attention to every bit of your beautiful self, think of what you love about your body, Levine says.
Ever considered wearing lingerie outside of the bedroom? These women actually did:
23. Reminisce about sexy past experiences.
Chances are, you have at least one unforgettable sexscapade you can think of when your libido needs a boost. “Letting your mind go there can spark your body and get your mind in the game,” Brandon says. Whether you and a former partner had a hot romp in a park or only banged it out to sensual music on silk sheets, reminiscing can be a surefire way to rev your engine.
24. …And fantasize about ones that haven’t happened yet.
No better way to float into a creative, sex-craving haze than fantasizing about that position you want to try in real life, or that kink you’ve been wanting to try out. Even if you aren’t planning on turning those fantasies into reality just yet, you can still harness that sexual energy to get you all tingly inside. It’s all about “bringing that sexual energy back to connect with your partner,” Brandon says.
Riding solo? Get totally lost in your imagination, baby.
25. Keep it going.
“Before you know it, if you’re not making desire part of your life, it goes by the wayside,” Brandon says. Don’t get too upset: This happens to everyone. Read your favorite erotica author or masturbate more regularly. It’s not just for the orgasm (although that’s always a perk), but for deepening your connection to your desire. Turning yourself on will become one of your many talents.
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