If you're anything like me, you need a good scientific reason why you should do something.
Lucky for you I have a master’s in Integrative Health and can tell you exactly why you seriously need to start prioritizing pleasure ;) Buckle up buttercup, this is a long one!
1. Pleasure counters the effects of stress
Let’s be real. Life is hard sometimes. From work stress to planning for the future or caring for family – pleasure helps balance out all the toll stress can take on our body.
When you experience pleasure, a cascade of natural chemicals and hormones floods your system that not only feels amazing but literally helps heal chronic stress and fatigue.
The hormones released when we receive a comforting hug or massage (oxytocin) or enjoy sexual pleasure and/or a really good dance party ;) (oxytocin, dopamine, serotonin) are the exact chemical antidote to chronic stress (cortisol).
Oxytocin and dopamine down-regulate cortisol and reduce the toll of chronic stress on our body, brain and nervous system. While serotonin boosts our mood and helps us feel good!
2. Pleasure heals burnout
The clinical definition of burnout is a state of emotional exhaustion. It’s not necessarily about how much you’re doing, it’s about how much you’re carrying emotionally. That's why burnout is most common amongst women, moms and professional caregivers.
If burnout is a state of emotional exhaustion, slowing down and connecting with our bodies is essential because emotions live in our body, not our brain.
Pleasure shows us how to do just that. Take some deep breaths and feel your body from the inside out, take in the smell of fresh flowers or run a hand over your body – these are all ways to start reconnecting and healing the burnout cycle.
Have you ever cried during sex? If so, that’s a great way to release emotions! Sex can be a deeply embodied experience (i.e. connecting you to your body) and all those emotions you’ve been avoiding have a chance to release ;)
3. Pleasure strengthens your immune system
When you maintain high levels of stress (yes, your unfelt emotions are contributing to your stress load!) over a long time, your immune system cannot function optimally.
You cannot survive in “survival mode” for so long before something’s gotta give. Chronic stress literally decreases your white blood cell count, among other things.
So it logically follows that since pleasure reduces the toll of chronic stress on your body, pleasure helps boost your immune system!
In my experience, burnout is often comorbid with chronic fatigue or other emotional health and stress related chronic illnesses like digestive disorders and autoimmune conditions.
Don’t wait until your body starts yelling at you with illnesses, pay attention to the signs now and give yourself a dose of pleasure today!
P.S. My definition of pleasure is ANYTHING that feels good in your body – dancing, biking, laughing, smelling flowers, whatever is accessible to YOU!
How are you fitting in some everyday pleasure today? I would love to hear!
Is this hard for you? Do you flinch when I use the word pleasure? Cool, always here to chat about that too! Don’t hesitate to reach out.