Just do it.
There are plenty of reasons that keeping up an active sex life is good for you; having regular sex has been shown to prevent disease, relieve pain, boost your immune system, and – obviously – foster closeness and happiness in your intimate relationships. Plus, when you stop having sex, weird things happen to your body.
But as it turns out, there’s another reason to get down and dirty with your partner tonight: it’s good for your career.
That’s right. A new study published by the Journal of Management showed that people are more engaged and happier with their jobs when they’ve had sex the night before. The study followed 159 married workers for two weeks, checking in with them daily. Study participants who’d been intimate with their partners the night before reported being in a better mood all day, which led them to be more both more productive, and more satisfied, at work. This was equally true of men and women, and the effects lasted a minimum of 24 hours.
That spring in your step
The author of the study, Keith Leavitt, is an associate professor at Oregon State University’s College of Business. He said the findings confirm something that’s long been little more than a joke. “We make jokes about people having a ‘spring in their step,’ but it turns out this is actually a real thing and we should pay attention to it.”
This shouldn’t come as a huge surprise to anyone who’s ever had good sex before. Sex, with or without orgasm (though preferably with, clearly) triggers our brains to release mood-elevating hormones that increase social bonding, attachment, and feelings of reward. In other words, sex is nature’s antidepressant. The study, says Leavitt, serves as “a reminder that sex has social, emotional and physiological benefits, and it’s important to make it a priority.”
But it’s not just about the sex – who you’re having it with matters, too. Leavitt’s university news release reads, in part: “Maintaining a healthy relationship that includes a healthy sex life will help employees stay happy and engaged in their work, which benefits the employees and the organizations they work for.” Notice that the ‘healthy relationship’ part comes first. So if your relationship isn’t in the best shape, you might want to take some steps to work on it.
Benefits that go beyond work
Having more sex is good for more than just your career; it’s good for your heath, and your relationships too. Sex and relationship expert Tracey Cox says having sex twice a week can prevent heart disease in both men and women, and that it reduces the risks of breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men. And research from Wilkes-Barre University in Pennsylvania showed that people who had sex at least once a week had significantly higher levels of virus-fighting immunoglobulin A. Orgasms also releases oxytocin and endorphins, which help relieve all kinds of pain, from cramps to migraines. (If you don’t have a partner, take heart: orgasms you give yourself produce these same chemicals.)
The health of your relationship depends on having frequent, good sex as well. If you’re not having sex, your relationship could be on its last legs; a sex-starved marriage is a marriage in trouble. “Take sex off the table and you remove the most intense, effective, important way of showing affection. Love without sex is friendship,” says Cox. And psychologist Les Parrott, who founded the Center for Relationship Development with his wife, marriage and family therapist Leslie Parrott, says a sexless marriage can be detrimental not only to your relationship, but to your health and general well being. “Going without sex in a marriage can deliver a hit to your self-esteem, engender guilt and decrease levels of oxytocin and other bonding hormones.”
What’s your excuse?
Once the initial thrill of being in love wears off and real life takes over – jobs, kids, money, and other pressures – it can be hard to be in the mood to have lots of sex. But in a sort of vicious circle, stress causes your sex life to drop off, and then not having sex brings your stress levels up even more. Without that release of happiness-inducing hormones, you feel worse and worse, and less and less like getting romantic with your partner. The fix? Just do it.
Marriage therapist Michele Weiner-Davis says your libido is like a muscle – you’ve got to use it or lose it. Even if you think you’re not in the mood, try to let down your guard and just go for it. Chances are, you’ll soon get into it. Once you’re back in the saddle, so to speak, you’ll find yourself feeling frisky more often.
Another sex-drive killer is our tendency to be constantly connected and available to our jobs. The Journal of Management study showed that while sex improved work performance, work-related stress actually does harm to people’s sex lives. This means it’s more important than ever to leave work at work whenever possible. “Technology offers a temptation to stay plugged in, but it’s probably better to unplug if you can,” said Leavitt, adding that “employers should encourage their employees to completely disengage from work after hours.”
After all, if your sex life is going to improve your performance at work, it’s only fair that your workplace should make a little effort to make your sex life better, too.
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Comment: Do you find you’re in a better mood after you have sex?