How much time do you spend thinking about yourself during sex? And I don’t mean in the positive way. Do you have sex in certain positions because it’s more flattering, or sometimes find yourself seeing how your body looks through the eyes of your partner? Ever worried about how your belly looks while you’re getting busy? You might be engaging in habitual body monitoring.

Confidence is like oxygen, it affects us without us even knowing, and when we’re running low on it, our brains don’t work too well. Frankly, it’s a fact of life that we will be judged upon our appearance, but when we start judging ourselves about how we look it can have dire consequences. Excessive self-monitoring not only attacks your confidence, but affects your ability to think critically and can devastate your sex drive.

A way you can tell if you’re body monitoring, is to be aware of your thoughts: do you often see yourself through the eyes of someone else, or change your posture/clothes etc. in case you’re being looked at? Do you spend a lot of time concerned about a specific area of your body such as your thighs, belly or breasts – thinking how they could be better and ways to improve them?

These thoughts can significantly inhibit your ability to become sexually aroused and enjoy physical pleasure; after all, confidence and good sex are inextricably linked, so if you want to have better sex, you need to work on your state of mind first.

Body monitoring has serious consequences beyond the bedroom, with links to depression, anxiety and eating disorders. If you feel it’s affecting your life, look into it and talk to someone. There are some habits you can develop to help you ditch the criticism:

  • Recognise when you’re seeing yourself as someone else would see you or focusing on your body in parts to be critiqued
  • Re-evaluate your perception, consider your positive attributes and achievements rather than your appearance
  • Resist the urge to critically evaluate others from their appearance (this reinforces self-monitoring)

Studies have shown anxiety about your physical appearance influences your ability to become aroused both physically and mentally. Which is understandable: it’s hard to have fun doing the horizontal hula if you’re too busy worrying about your wobbly bits. Our sexual desire is hugely impacted by our perception of ourselves and how we think others see us. So if we’re spending all our time worrying about how we look, we’re never going to get the perks of satisfying hanky-panky.

Sex reduces stress, it builds intimacy, bombards you with feel-good chemicals and it’s meant to be fun! It can cure headaches, reduce depression, lower blood pressure and improve sleep. It’s a good thing, and it’s made to be enjoyed, and you deserve to enjoy it. Not because you spent a fortune on lacy lingerie that pushes you up and holds you in at right places, but because it’s a lovely thing and you’re a physical being and you deserve to feel awesome. So if you want better sex, it’s starts with your brain.

Kate Jones blogs about writing and pop culture at Calvicle Capitalism.