Keeping Your Desire Lit
over the holidays
with Amanda testa
Let's face it,
this time of year can zap your libido.
Holidays, extended family, travel, hectic schedules, kids home from school… even saying all that makes my chest constrict and feel tight.
Join me and let's take 3 breaths, as I want to share in this episode, how to stay sensually connected to yourself and your desire as we move into the holidays.
Listen into this week's pod to discover some ways you can center your pleasure, reduce stress, and keep your desire ho ho humming this holiday season.
complete transcript below.
In this episode you'll discover
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Amanda Testa is a trusted healer, coach, and guide who’s served hundreds of clients over the years with masterful skills in coaching, pleasure embodiment, and somatic trauma resolution.
Her clients tenderly heal their relationship with their sexuality, shamelessly embrace pleasure, own their sexy confidence, and cultivate deeply connected relationships with her fiercely loving support.
When she’s not leading transformative sessions, you can find her snuggling her spunky 10 year old, flirting with her sexy hubs, playing in nature, enjoying live music, and having epic conversations about sex with fellow experts on her Find Your Feminine Fire podcast.
Want more support? Schedule a confidential 1-1 call with Amanda here.
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EPISODE 239: Holiday Libido
[Fun, Empowering Music]
Amanda Testa: Hello, and welcome to the Find Your Feminine Fire podcast. I am your host, Amanda Testa. I am a sex, love, and relationship coach, and in this podcast, my guests and I talk sex, love, and relationships, and everything that lights you up from the inside out. Welcome!
Hello, and welcome to the Find Your Feminine Fire podcast. I am your host, Amanda Testa. Today, we’re gonna be diving into how to keep your libido ho-ho-humming over the holidays. Can we just, first of all, talk about how normal it is for our libidos, our desire to fluctuate. It is normal for it to change throughout the day, throughout the month, throughout the year. So, as we deal with all the things that are going on this time of year, I wanted to share some strategies that you can use to keep your pleasure, your desire alive and humming.
So, first of all, I want to talk a little bit about why it’s so hard this time of year.
Well, first of all, all the stress that we go through during this time of year compounds, right? There are the holidays, extended family, travel, hectic schedules, kids home from school. I mean, even as I say all that I feel like my chest is constricting a little bit and feeling tight. So, I’ll just invite you, no matter what you're feeling around that, maybe just taking a few breaths. Let’s just take three breaths together.
[Three Deep Breaths]
Ah, a nice sigh. Even something that simple can really help to just get your nervous system a little more relaxed, but that is a lot, right? We have a lot going on, a lot on our plates this time of year. Whether or not you have kids, whether or not you work or not, there’s just a lot of stress going on and a lot of expectation.
I was posting about this the other day because I feel like there are just so many unrealistic expectations that have been portrayed in our conditioning and the advertising and the marketing of the world out there (what we’re supposed to do, what we’re supposed to offer for our families, for ourselves, for whatever it may be), and it’s a lot to live up to, and I think that we can give ourselves permission to say no to that and digest it in a way that feels right to you.
Hey, if you're enjoying the pod and you know you are ready to find your feminine fire again, to feel turned on in your body, in your life, and you want that deeper support, then head on over to amandatesta.com/thegoods and check out ways you can work with me to get that desire back, to reclaim your medicine, your magic, step back into your sexy confidence and pleasure and authentically share your gifts ‘cause you know it’s all connected. Again, that’s amandatesta.com/thegoods. Now, back to the episode.
So, I want to share a little bit, too, around kind of how our normal cycles work, right? When you're thinking about how we, here in the US, are in the winter. I live in Denver, Colorado, and we are in the winter. This time of year is a time of letting go, right? If we think about our natural tendencies, this is a time of shedding, releasing rest, of renewal. If you think about the trees outside, they might look like all the leaves have fallen off, but all their energy is going inward and down so they can rest and renew. There’s so much going on under the surface. So, during this time of year, oftentimes, there might be a call for more rest and more time being cozy inside, more hermiting up. It’s dark at, like, 4:00 PM. Let’s be honest, who wants to get dolled up and go out? I mean, hello. I used to, but now I feel like my ideal evening, I’m in bed at, like, 8:00 PM reading and snuggling with my loves which I adore.
So, anyway, I just want to reiterate this to say that, cyclically, it is that time of year to rest and replenish. So, as much as you can, just try to give yourself what you need. Make yourself space and time for downtime and just saying no to the things that aren't a real full-bodied yes, which is easier said than done, but that’s a big part of it is we can feel so pressured to do all the things like this Christmas party and that Christmas party and this thing and this thing and that holiday shindig and this, that, and the other, right? No matter what you’re celebrating over the holidays, there are a lot of invitations, and so, maybe that’s just a time, too, to just look at everything coming in and really feeling in. What’s realistic? Is it really realistic that we’re gonna go to three parties this weekend, right? And if it’s not, then you can kindly say no. You don't even have to give an excuse. You can RSVP no, right? Everybody has a lot going on right now, and the kind thing to do is just RSVP versus saying yes and showing up resentful or irritated or, worse, not show up after you’ve RSVPed “yes,” right?
I’m from the South, and I’m a big fan of manners and RSVPing, so I do feel like that’s a kind gesture for your host or hostess or whoever’s inviting you to the thing, to let them know whether or not you’ll be there.
I saw a funny meme the other day. It said something like, “It’s much easier to change a no to a yes than a yes to a no,” which is true. So, that’s something to think about when you're looking at this normal cycle that we have in the wintertime and what that means.
Also, understanding that, as I mentioned earlier, our libido, our desire is cyclical, right? It fluctuates throughout the month. It fluctuates hormonally. Even if you're in menopause, we still have natural ebbs and flows. So, this time of year, too, everyone’s different with what their desire level is. We know that all the stress is a killer for our sex drive, for our desire.
And so, what we can do when we think about, really, what helps us to have more pleasure, to have more desire, there are a few things around that. So, now that we know what’s standing in the way, now, we can kind of work a little bit around what are some strategies that we can use to cope? What are some strategies that we can use to keep our desire alive and to keep our connection with our partners alive?
So, the first thing is, when you think about our desire, there are a couple of things happening. I love this. Emily Nagoski talks about this in her book Come As You Are, and, by the way, she has a new podcast which is awesome. So I just want to shout her out. But when we think about what’s going on, there are usually a couple things at play, right? We have the part of our brain that’s the accelerator (the part that is leaning towards the turn on) and we have the part that is the brake (now, that is the part that is slowing things down).
So, we have, often, a lot of things going on at the same time in our brains, right? There’s a lot happening up there.
So, with our sexual accelerator, this kind of notices what are all the sexually related things in the environment, right? Things that involve your five senses, maybe any of your beliefs, any of your preconceived notions, and all of the things that kind of need you, more often than not, to feel turned on, right? And so, a lot of the times we get a lot of advice around what we can do to feed that turn on which is important. At the same time, we also have our brake going on, and here’s the thing with the brakes. The brakes are often going on at the same time as the accelerator, and a lot of different things can come up that hit the brakes, right? It could be our body issue. Number one on the list is usually stress, right? Stress is such a drain because it really puts our bodies into more of a state of survival so we’re not moving into those different states that can more easily access pleasure.
Also thinking negative thoughts to ourselves (things that we are thinking about, what we need to do, maybe any kind of relationship issues going on, any kind of history of trauma or anything of that), these brakes are gonna be keeping you from feeling the turn on. Some of the things are easier to fix than others because some of them require more tending, but sometimes what needs to happen is if we kind of look at the things that have led to a good experience in the past and what led to a bad experience in the past and maybe noticing -- not the best experience you've ever had, but a good experience you’ve had, and maybe what are some of the things that were going on there. What was your physical environment like? What was your personal mood like? What was your partner like? What was going on in the environment? Taking into those things and checking into the context of what was going on because the more you can kind of understand the context of what leads you to be turned on, the more likely you can connect to that in the future.
I was thinking of an example for myself today. Okay, so, a few weeks ago, my husband and I had an amazing night away. It was epic. Here are some of the reasons why. I was in a clean space that I was able to walk into. I didn't have to clean. I didn't have to do anything. Here’s the beautiful bed. Everything’s clean. There was plenty of time. It was right before the holiday week, so I didn't have a lot on my plate. There was not a lot of stress hanging over my head. I knew my kid was well cared for with a loving guide, a loving caregiver. And so, I was able to really relax. That was huge, right? We don't always have those same kinds of things going on. So, what are the little things I can look at in that example that I can try to recreate?
Number one is that my kid wasn't around. That’s an important thing. It can be sometimes very hard especially for moms and caregivers to relax when there are kids nearby. So, what I say around this is, is there a way that you can maybe take turns taking care of the kids with neighbors? Could you hire a babysitter? Could you get someone to take your kid on an adventure so that you can have some time alone?
Oftentimes, one of the benefits of the extended family in town is they can take on some of that caregiving role to get it off your plate, right? So, that’s a solution around that.
Number two is not having so much on my plate. Now that, again, is a rarity. [Laughs] But what I can do is realize what are the things that are truly urgent and what are not ‘cause what can often happen is that we are in such an environment and culture of productivity that it really encourages “everything is important.” Oftentimes, that’s not truly the case, right? Is it truly urgent or is this just something that I am feeling is urgent? Because, oftentimes, when you can kind of look at everything on your plate and really prioritize what’s truly most important, it can take some of that stress off of your plate.
So, the reason I’m sharing this is because I’m kind of breaking down what it really takes to digest and think about, okay, here’s the context that invites turn on, and what can I do to recreate that again?
Same thing that can happen is what are the things that cause turn offs? Well, okay, if I notice there’s a bunch of laundry in my room, then I’m totally not gonna feel turned on because I keep thinking, “Oh, my god. I’ve got to fold that laundry.” So, take the laundry basket and put it somewhere else, right? Shove all the toys under the bed. Hide the stuff that is a turn off. Now, that’s more easier said than done. [Laughs] So, you can do that. That’s an easy thing to do.
Maybe there’s a noise that is irritating in the house, so maybe you put on some nice music so you don't have to hear it, right? There are simple things that you can do to turn the accelerator on. Maybe it’s the holidays and you're not feeling like yourself because maybe you're just eating and drinking too much and you're not taking care of your body the way you usually do. What are some things that you can do to maybe take better care of your body, and then maybe this is an opportunity. Is there a lovely nightgown that I want to put on or a slip or something sexy where I can kind of feel covered up but also have some skin showing which can be fun and tantalizing and then I feel a little more covered up which makes me feel more relaxed, right? There are so many ways to work with it.
So, that being said, if you want more about this, I really truly love Emily Nagoski’s book, Come As You Are. She goes into a lot more detail. But, really, just kind of noticing, okay, this is normal that all these things are coming up. What can I do to reduce the stress on my plate? What can I say no to? How can I create time and space for the things that are important for me, especially when things seem busy?
All right, so we’ve talked a little bit about why this is hard. We’ve talked a little about honoring our natural rhythms and cycles. We’ve talked a little bit about understanding the accelerators and the brakes, and now I’m gonna talk a little bit more about some of the tips that you can use just on a stress reduction, sensual self-care type of thing because I really truly believe this is so important. We talk about it a lot, but I think some of the things are so simple that they can just seem overrated but they're really not.
Now, when I’m talking about sensual self-care, these are the things that you do, and it’s not just taking a bath. It’s not all that kind of thing. That can be part of it, but it’s finding the support that helps you to feel grounded, to feel neutral, to give your body this sense of a full-body exhale. I talk about this a lot because these things are really foundational.
I like to break it down into when you're thinking about the physical supports. What are the things, physically, that make you feel good? And so, maybe you can just make a list of those things, right? Well, I love, for example, taking a walk with my dog, maybe putting on some music and listening to a song I like, maybe going to hug my partner for a few minutes, right? These are kind of some of those physical things. What are some things you can do? Connect to those things more often than you think you need to, especially over the holidays and in times of stress, in times when you know there are gonna be things happening that are outside of your usual routine because this can kind of help give you that sense of foundational strength, that groundedness so that if things hit the fan, which they very may will, that you have more patience and resilience to deal with it.
Secondly, you can think about what are the emotional things that support me? Is there a friend I love to talk to? Do I like to journal? Is there some way I can process my emotion that feels good? Maybe it’s getting on the Zoom with someone that you love or maybe one of these invitations that you’ve gotten that’s a full-bodied yes, you go and have an amazing time connecting with your friends, right? I think that is one of the benefits when we are able to spend time with our community and that connectivity because we are not meant to be alone. We’re not meant to be so siloed. And so, when we can allow ourselves to fully receive that community support and show up as your authentic self, you don't have to pretend you're any other way than you are. I think that’s one of the great things about really good friends and good communities where you can show up, and whatever’s real for you is accepted.
You don't have to put on a show. You don’t have to act a different way. You don't have to put a bow in, as I always joke. My mom always used to tell me that growing up. I was not a bow type of girl, and she always wanted me to put a bow in. So, every time I would leave the house, she would be like, “Put a bow in!” Like, that’s not who I am. I’m not gonna make you put a bow on, and no one who’s coming in through my house needs to put a bow on unless they, of course, enjoy wearing bows, then by all means wear all the bows that you would like to wear.
Then, finally, too, what are the spiritual supports that support you here? When you're thinking of these sensual self-care things, what are the things that support you spiritually and connecting to those because, again, the more we connect to these things that support us, the more we’re gonna build a strong foundation. You think of a tree that’s like a huge 200-year-old oak tree, a big storm is gonna come through. It’s gonna remain steady. It might move around a little bit, but it’s not gonna fall over. If there is a little, teeny sapling that’s maybe only a year or two old, a big wind might come by and just whip it out from its roots and take it down the lane.
So, this is what, too, we do when we have a strong foundation. We have roots, we have the ability to sway in the storms and not fall over, and when we have those resources and we’re feeling a little more grounded, then we are not as stressed, and then our nervous system is more apt to default to pleasure when that opportunity arises. See how it’s all connected? It’s always all connected.
So, this brings us back to pleasure. The more that we can feel that resource and that connection to ourselves, that sense of stability, even safety if you can create that for yourself, that is so powerful, and then being able to enjoy the pleasure, right? You can, then, more easily default to those pleasurable states. Once you feel this foundation of stability, you’re like, “Oh, yeah, maybe I do want to give myself a little massage. Maybe I do want to explore a little connectivity with my partner.” So, these are things you can do!
Then, finally, I want to share a little bit around remaining connected to the people around you because I think this is another big thing. As I mentioned, in relationships, this is another challenging time, especially if, maybe, there’s more strife, if you have extended family and all the things that can come up around that, dealing with kids home if they're usually in school. If you have little ones, then you're used to them being around. So, when they are gone for school and they’ve been in school for ever and then they're finally home for a few weeks, that can feel challenging. So, it’s like what are the strategies that we need to put into place to remain connected when we don't have time like we usually do?
So, again, here’s where I go back to the little things are so powerful. Intentionality is so important. Taking the things that you are already doing and adding a little bit more intention into them. So, for example, when you get up in the morning, instead of just jumping out of the bed and going about your day, can you spend just a minute connecting with your partner, maybe holding their hand, maybe laying your head on their chest, maybe breathing together, maybe just looking at each other and saying, “Hello,” maybe kissing, making love (if that feels doable).
Really, it’s just finding the ways to connect. That is so important because it can be so easy to not do that, right? This book, The Slight Edge, says, “Easy to do, easy not to do, but the difference in where your destination is gonna be is night and day.” If you wake up every morning and don't touch your partner, imagine how that disconnect grows, and when you have these little connection points throughout the day, these remind you of your connection, of the love you have for one another, of the way it feels to be kind and connected. So, those little simple things, right?
So, when you get up - connecting. Before you go to bed - connecting. Even if you go to bed at different times, you can just make an effort to at least give each other a kiss before bed or hug or some kind of connection. When you go to eat your meals, is it possible that you can eat meals together?
I think this can be a really grounding ritual for busy families, even when you have extended family in or you're traveling, is, as much as you can, try to create the normal routine of eating together at least one meal a day if it’s possible to. So, because you're already gonna eat, you're already gonna be doing these things, so how can you just create a little more intentionality around what you're doing with eating in enjoying the people around you, enjoying the food you're eating, really slowing down and making sure that you’re enjoying what’s on your plate. You're not just shoving stuff down. What is nourishing, what is sensual, what is delicious about what you're eating? Then, let yourself enjoy. This can go throughout your day. There’s so much.
I always talk about the shower ritual. Can you just take a shower and have that be like your respite? For me, it is one of my favorite ten minutes of the day. I fully immerse myself in the experience. I allow myself to feel the hot water just streaming down my skin and just have gratitude for how luscious and amazing it feels, that hot, warm water, and how it just rinses away everything that’s been on my mind. It rinses away the night.
It rinses away everything so there’s a clean, fresh start. I enjoy the smell of my products. I have this eucalyptus spray I spray in my shower that I love the smell of. I really enjoy feeling my hands on my skin as I massage my scalp. I enjoy massaging my face. I enjoy washing my body. I just really take time. I even do a breast massage. This takes ten minutes, y’all. It’s not like I’m doing this extravagant thing, but I make my intention around the experience one of connection. Then, when I get out. I put my lotion, my body oil on. I just do a face massage. I make it a ritual of self-adornment, of self-love. And so, I‘ve got a million of these things. This is what I work with clients all the time around.
So, these are just some ideas for you to ponder because what my wish is for you, what my intention with this episode is, is for you to kind of see, okay, here are the challenges that so many of us face around the holidays, and then here are some strategies of what I can do around it. I can honor my cycles. I can honor the rhythms and the natural calling that this time of year is inviting me towards. I can figure out what’s turning my accelerators on and what’s turning my brakes on and what can I do about that, right? How can I support the things that are making me feel good and try to tone down the things that aren't? How can I look at what’s on my schedule and say no to the things that are overwhelming me, right? How can I encourage myself to enjoy more sensual self-care in those three realms of the physical, the emotional, and the spiritual? How can I have more connection with my partner, when things get crazy, with intentionality?
So, all this to say, when we move into this time, it’s like remembering what are the important parts that you want to connect to. For me, when I think about it, it is connecting to the people that I love, enjoying seeing friends that I don't often see, enjoying snuggling in and being cozy, letting myself snuggle in and be cozy without guilt. Maybe I might even have a full day or two movie marathon, and I’m gonna enjoy the hell out of it without guilt because that, to me, is a little bit of reclamation of my own time and pleasure for myself. We’re able to do that, right? We’re able to do that. Maybe there’s gonna be a day or two where you let your kid watch way too much TV so you can have a break. We all do it, and it’s okay. We have to do what we have to do. But remembering what’s important and remembering, when it comes to your desire, when it comes to your pleasure, it’s the small things that add up.
Those foundational things (intentionality, connecting to your senses, being present, noticing what feels good and saying no to what doesn't) are all really important. A lot of these, even though they seem small, there’s a lot of big stories and big experiences that sometimes make it harder to do. That’s okay because we all have those, but it’s just when you can kind of slow it down, realize not everything is an emergency, how can I nourish myself, how can I let go of some of the stressors and really enjoy what I’m here to enjoy? How can I let my pleasure lead me? How can I be curious about what that’s gonna bring me today? And so, I’ll invite you with that. I’ll leave you with that question. As you move through the days, what will bring you the most pleasure today and how can you say yes to that? What will be depleting from your joy, and how can you say no to that? That could be the simplest thing to even start.
If this is something that you have more questions around, just send me a DM! I love talking about this stuff. You can DM me on Instagram @abtesta, and I would love to connect and hear your feedback or what you're struggling with and what are some of the ideas that you love to implement to stay connected?
So, sending you much love, and we will see you next week! Hope you have a beautiful week ahead. As we close, maybe once again just think what is, maybe, one thing from this episode that you could sit with? Sending you much love. See you next week!
[Fun, Empowering Music]
Thank you so much for listening to the Find Your Feminine Fire podcast. This is your host, Amanda Testa, and if you have felt a calling while listening to this podcast to take this work to a deeper level, this is your golden invitation.
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[Fun, Empowering Music]