By: Dr. Charmian Lewis, MD, Ob/Gyn
People are using multiple terms to refer to the measures we’re taking to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19): social distancing, quarantine, shelter-in-place, lock-down, etc. My personal preference is physical distancing because frankly most of the others make me cringe. Psychologists have long known that “saying is believing.”
Our internal dialogue, also known as self-talk, significantly impacts our feelings about ourselves and our circumstances. Adopting more positive self-talk is not self-deception. It’s taking the truth and looking at it in a better light.
Our thoughts shape our experience. There is no doubt we are all facing a challenging period in history. I chose to use the phrase physical distancing because it aptly describes the situation without injecting negative connotations. Most of us are voluntarily avoiding individuals outside of our household or taking precautions when we must interact with other people while maintaining professional responsibilities and social relationships using virtual platforms. Some of us may even appreciate the chance to slow down and spend more time with our loved ones. That doesn’t negate the fact we’d relish the opportunity to sit down for a meal in a restaurant or catch up with friends, in person, over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine.
Words are sex drive remedies. Women have higher rates of conditions like anxiety, depression and body dysmorphic disorder. This may be related to higher incidences of dysfunctional or excessively negative internal dialogues in women which have been absorbed since childhood in an often misogynistic society. Even women without mental illness suffer the consequences of negative self-talk demonstrated by multiple studies showing women have lower self-confidence and libido than men. Improving self-talk is the focus of many psychological interventions such as cognitive-behavioral therapy but all of us can readily improve our self-talk by saying positive affirmations or mantras to ourselves regularly.
Self talk will take action. For example, if you are suffering from low libido, perhaps you need to reexamine your feelings about your body. Stand in front of the mirror and acknowledge the first thought that comes to your mind. If it’s negative, positively reframe it and speak it aloud.
I may think, “My thighs are fat.” In response I say to myself, “My legs, though larger than I’d like, are strong and I have shapely calves.” I then might examine what prompted those original thoughts. Perhaps I’d been wearing skirts frequently and am physically unformattable from chafing. I could then take action by using my strong legs to go for a walk, researching comfortable pants for women my shape, and trying a talc free product that prevents chafing.
Body positivity will improve your life. As your body image improves, your libido will likely improve too. This is a perfect time for self-exploration to determine what you enjoy sexually and which is the best vibrator for you. I recommend trying the Bella Body Wand. This waterproof vibrator comes with a bonus gift: a cuff bracelet with a powerful message, “She believed she could so she did.” Wear it regularly to remind you of the power of positive self-talk.