By Win, AYLI Staff Writer
“I will love myself despite the ease with which I lean toward the opposite."
― Shane Koyczan
It’s January! The busy holidays are done and the sun is returning, though slowly. Now the quiet of winter is here, and with it the pressure of a new year. Resolutions, renewals, rebirth. But for some, an opportunity for new beginnings can also feel like a stressful forced change.
Historically, this is the time of year to crack open those summer preserves and cozy up by a roaring fire to listen to a story. Nowadays though, fires are hard to come by and most preserves are store bought. Still got those trusty audiobooks and podcasts though!
So how do we take care of ourselves and bring a little joy into these dark weeks? Self care is a big ticket buzzword, but lately it's become almost more of a pressure than a relief. Constantly bombarded by spa kits and tropical self care getaways, it’s no wonder that we may suddenly feel like self care is out of our reach. When you add that to dark days and cold weather sometimes it can seem impossible to do more than grit your teeth and survive.
But don't give up! Just like the sun, you're going to keep rising every day and doing your best to shine. And even if you feel a little dull this time of year, you can always find a little extra sparkle somewhere. After all, just like our ancestors knew, winter is prime treat time.
If There’s One Thing You Ought To Know About Me,
It’s That I’m Very Serious About My Little Treats
Pleasure of any kind can feel impossible to find this time of year. We’re all too focused on keeping our hands warm and our vitamin D levels survivable to put energy into something that is frequently treated as a lavish waste. Combine that with a push to make resolutions that are often about self denial, and we often find ourselves feeling guilty or selfish for prioritizing pleasure. Don’t fall for it! Pleasure is hugely important to keep our bodies and brains functioning properly.
Many studies have been done on the effects of a life lacking joy, and all of them have found nearly the same thing; nothing is harder on your body than stress. Continual stress wears on everything from our hearts, brains, and lungs to our bone marrow production. The negative effect it has on our endocrine (hormone) system can be a major factor in fertility, erectile dysfunction, and painful periods. Stress is one of the single most telling factors in determining life expectancy.
So! Now that we’re all stressed about stress and the dark, what do we do? Personally, we're big fans of little treats. Some might call it delayed gratification, some might call it stockpiling, some might call it hoarding, but we call it little treats. You know, those small things you look forward to when things are rough to keep you going. A chocolate bar hidden in a drawer, a new chapter in a good book, a promise of late night cheesy goodness, a session with your favorite vibrator. Small ways to take care of ourselves in a world that often feels designed to grind us to dust.
Top Five Ways To Center Pleasure
(Or, Our Fave Five Little Treats!)
Here’s a list of our top 5 ways to center pleasure in the new year! While there are many more ways to do so, these are some of our favorites:
Recenter yourself and your pleasure in your daily life. While it might be easier said than done, making a conscious effort to center your needs and wants regularly is really important. While this might seem redundant, giving yourself space and permission to actually think about and prioritize yourself can be a revolutionary process and teach you things about yourself you need to know. There are miles between self care and self obsession. If this is really difficult for you, or you're not sure where to start, consider checking out our selection of emotional guide books.
- Stop and smell the roses! Okay, maybe not the literal roses since it's winter, but there’s still plenty of lovely nature that you can access in the cold. Look up local hikes and nature paths near you, take a drive in the country, find a rosemary shrub and break off a little for a blast of tasty scent. Or you know, get some actual roses! Globalization has gotta be good for something! Remind yourself that even nature has moments where it is withdrawn and sparse, but that the season of abundance will return. When things seem gray and dreary, look for the signs of life that still persevere. Whatever your location or ability level, think about little ways you can find the good in nature even during the off season.
- Find ways to be playful. Whether that means sexy playful or fun playful, invite some silly into your life. Role playing, board games, video games, card games, dancing, indoor sports, whatever gives you a chance to set down burdens and laugh a little. Play is a crucial part of our lives, and can be so hard to find in the winter. Laughter is good for you! Plus it can be a fun way to move your body that is less daunting than a formalized ‘work out’.
Tasty treats! The most obvious interpretation of treats, the food you eat has a huge impact on your mental and physical wellbeing. Food can be a complicated and fraught subject for a lot of people, but it’s also a huge part of our lives and building community. Be they sweet or savory, a tasty treat can give you something to look forward to or be a nice mid-day get through. Or take it a little farther and try out a new recipe. Invite friends or family over for a fun dinner, or throw a little cocktail party! Who said you need a special occasion to get dressed up and eat hors d'oeuvres? Remember when the pandemic began and everyone was baking bread? Maybe it’s time to bring that energy back.
- Of course, our very favorite treat is orgasms! On your own or with others, having orgasms is a pretty bang up time. Aside from feeling good, orgasms also help boost your immune system, relieve muscle pain, help you sleep, and can relax your body in a similar way to meditation. Indulgence has never felt so good! If you’re feeling underwhelmed by your orgasms, change it up by trying a new toy or position. While using the same vibrator over and over again won't make you ‘reliant’ on vibration (that's a myth) it does sometimes create a predictable experience. A toy with a different kind of motor or an unexpected sensation such as an air pulse toy can bring variance and spice to your orgasms! Or if you’re locked and loaded with toys, think about what else you can change up. Location, methodology, even temperature can add a whole new dimension to your elation. If you're unsure how to bring in fresh energy this new year, check out our blog on masturbation, or come see us in the shop! Online or in person, take a look around and chat with one of our staff about what toys or books might aid you to your best O yet!
Angels Of The Get Through
Things are hard this year. Sometimes it feels like things are worse than they’ve ever been, scraping rock bottom and life is still throwing punches. But we still have to try, get up in the morning, spit out teeth, and keep swinging back. And between the swings find softness, find kindness. It can be so easy when things are bad to feel like everything is bad, that there is nothing untainted, no light in the dark. But so rarely is that true. Sometimes all we can do is light a birthday candle and hope the universe doesn't decide today is for making wishes. Sometimes all we can do is our best.
And while you’re doing your best for the world, try to take the time to do the best for yourself too. When you’re making resolutions or plans for the new year, think about ways to make those centered around radical self love and pleasure. After all, what's the meaning of life if not to experience as much joy as possible and share it with those we love?
From all of us at As You Like It to you, Happy New Year. Let’s have a bangin’ good one this time round!