While we already know and understand the importance of curating a consistent self-care practice for your mental health, you may want to consider creating a sexual self-care routine too. A sexual self-care routine means dedicating scheduled time to show up for your sexual self. This may look like making a playlist to get you in the mood, self-reflection through journaling to inspire pleasure or developing healthy sexual conversation with yourself. Dr. Nikki Coleman, a practicing psychologist specializing in Black women’s relational and sexual wellness, believes your sexual self-care routine should include anything that allows you to feel safe and fully present in your body.
A sexual self-care routine can boost confidence, limit depression, and increase self-love. According to Dr. Jacqueline Sherman, a licensed clinical psychologist, and certified intimacy and relationship coach, it’s vital to develop a connection to your sexual and sensual self. “It is important to curate a sexual self-care routine because being intentional about connecting to our sexual self is an act of self-love,” she says to ESSENCE. Dr. Sherman continues, “A sexual self-care routine can also help to boost sexual confidence and create deeper intimacy with self and others. Some women have difficulty connecting to their sexual desire due to feeling stressed and overworked. Creating a sexual self-care practice will help women feel more sexually empowered and in tune with their sexual/erotic thoughts and body.”
Additionally, for Black women, owning our sexuality on our terms can be difficult, as we can be hypersexualized in the media or suffer from previous traumatizing sexual events in our childhood. A sexual self-care gives routine provides us with the agency to make our own decisions about our bodies and places the onus on us to discover what we find pleasurable and enjoyable in the bedroom and beyond. Dr. Sherman suggests releasing unhelpful sexual scripts to help you deepen sexual exploration. “Our brain is our biggest sex organ. Many of us think our sexual behaviors are spontaneous, but generally, we have internalized sexual scripts. Sexual scripts are expectations of how we should behave sexually. They are learned from society, media, parents, friends, and partners. Reflecting on unhelpful scripts can be a game-changer in your sex life. Some common unhelpful scripts include: ‘Good girls should not want sex, great sex ends in orgasm, sex equals penetration, sex is for male pleasure, and Female orgasm is hard to achieve.’”
Dr. Coleman also encourages Black women to be patient with themselves while developing their sexual self-care routines. “Make room for discomfort and love yourself through it. In our sex-negative culture, most of us have internalized shame. For many of us, it runs deep, disconnecting us from our authentic pleasure. Your sexual self-care practice may sometimes bump up against that shame, and that’s ok. You deserve to love yourself through it because you are worthy of pleasure,” she shares.
So how can one create a sexual self-care routine? The key is curiosity. Dr. Coleman implores us to get curious and explore what we need from our bodies. “Have you fully explored all the ways you can experience sexual pleasure? Do you know everything that turns you on? What about what turns you off? Pleasure Mapping is a wonderful technique to help facilitate this process for you. Pleasure Mapping is exploring the erotic zones of your body. It is the activity of spending intentional time with yourself to understand your body’s unique pleasure points, desired sensations, and places of eroticism,” she states.
Black women deserve consistent pleasure, whether from a partner, partners, or themselves. Here are several ways to create a sexual self-care routine and elements to include within one, according to experts.
Three Ways To Curate Your Self-Care Routine
Get clear on what you need sexually during this season of your life. “What we need sexually changes over time, and it is not best practice to create a sexual self-care routine based on your past sexual needs/wants/or desires. You must get purposefully present during your sexual self-care journey,” says Dr. Sherman.
Dr. Coleman suggests taking your time and slowing down to plan your routine. “The demands of life, work, and all the other things get us in the habit of rushing everything. Don’t let that mentality pervade into your sexual self-care practice. Most women’s sexual response cycle requires more time to become fully aroused, and the more aroused you are, the better the pleasure,” she says.
Create A Connection Within Yourself
Build a healthy connection with your genitals. “Many women have received low-quality sex education and negative messaging about their female sex organs. If you have had these experiences, rebuilding a connection to your female genitalia utilizing accurate, sex-positive information is essential,” states Dr. Sherman.
What Should You Include Within Your Sexual Wellness Routine?
Dr. Sherman suggests the following elements to consider including within your practice.
Repeat Sex Affirmations: Sex-affirming statements are a powerful way to connect to your sexual confidence. They help you remember your value, what you want and deserve sexually, and the truth about your body and its ability to access an abundance of pleasure. They also help cultivate desire, self-acceptance, and sexual empowerment. When connecting with a sex affirmation, say it aloud, feel it, and reflect on its meaning. Examples of sex affirmations include…
“Sex is a full body experience; I am present.”
“I am worthy of giving and receiving pleasure.”
“My pleasure is a gift from the divine.”
“My sexual needs are valid.”
“Sex is not about how I look, but how I feel.”
“When I am more open, I feel more sexually free.”
Engage in Journaling: Self-reflection through journaling can help you to gain awareness of mindset blocks that impact confidence, pleasure, and orgasm. You can create a sex journal focusing on desire, shame, body image, masturbation, etc. Write and reflect at a pace that feels good to you. As you discover new insights, identify the sexual beliefs and expectations that have impacted your relationship with sex.
Practice Sex Talk: Sexual conversation is liberation! There is a great deal of discomfort for many people when talking about sex. Society deems sex taboo, resulting in a general lack of confidence when discussing sex. Deepening your sex dialogue is a self-care skill that is important to build. We can do this by engaging in regular conversations about sex with our partner(s) or open conversations about sex with trusted friends.
Try Mindful Solo-Sex: Masturbate mindfully to help you learn/explore your body. This will not only increase your likelihood of experiencing future orgasms, but it will also help you become more sexually present. Mindful masturbation allows you to hone in on your breath, senses, and feelings of pleasure. The goal is to be fully present and aware of your body while being non-judgmental of your experience.
Turn Up Your Sensuality: When engaging in sexual self-care, pay close attention to your senses. Sensuality is the process of being connected to your body and feeling pleasure. Building a solid connection to your sensuality allows for more connection to the body and deeper self-intimacy. To tune in to your sensuality, speak out loud what you see, smell, hear, and taste.
Connect to your Fantasies: Fantasies help you learn about yourself and prime your body and mind for arousal. Fantasizing can include reading erotica, recalling a sexual memory from the past, or thinking about something you want to try sexually but haven’t yet (or maybe never plan to). Writing down your fantasies in great detail can help you deepen your connection to them.
Practice Vulva Self-Love: Learning to love your vulva is an act of sexual self-care. Go to a space that feels safe and comfortable. Grab a hand mirror, and look at your vulva with compassion and curiosity.