Go screw yourself.
Instead of investing in that exorbitantly-priced gym membership this summer, why don't you instead try setting aside 30 minutes each week for a quality round of much-needed masturbation? Aside from the amazing looks you'll incite on your colleagues' faces when they ask you how you intend to get in shape this summer, the health benefits of some weekly self-love more than speak for themselves.
In all seriousness, it's no secret that masturbation is a bit taboo. What's lesser-known, however, is the fact that it wasn't always this way.
Before the early 18th century, there wasn't actually such a stigma around touching yourself*. Unfortunately, over time, masturbation was rebranded into a scary disease and began to bear the brunt of the blame for all kinds of unrelated physical and social ills. Over the course of the next three centuries, this irrational anxiety would only continue to grow.
I'm here to insist that we put all of this behind us.
The act of masturbation actually has many physiological and psychological benefits. Aside from the obvious upsides of masturbation that we know and love, here are some of my favorite positive side effects of a routine, healthy dose of self-love:
1. Masturbation helps you know yourself and body better. Masturbation can be a way to discover, accept and understand your mind and body in an otherwise unparalleled way. It can provide an unmatched opportunity to touch base with yourself. In this fast-paced world, we often forget to set aside time to breathe, let alone listen to our bodies. Much like when practicing meditation, it allows us to get in tune with our personal rhythms and identify sensitive points of tension, pain and desire.
Believe it or not, regular masturbation has actually been proven to correlate positively with self-confidence.
2. Masturbation is good for your body. Masturbation has have a positive effect on cardiovascular health and one study suggests it can even lower the risk of type-2 diabetes. So, it's up to you: your comfortable, plush bed or... the gym. Speaking of beds, masturbation is also a natural way to help fight insomnia -- it releases key hormones while relieving tension.
3. Masturbation is good for your mind. Masturbation can decrease your stress level and improve your mood (which should be no surprise). Everyone masturbates a little bit differently. Most of it depends upon how you experimented and conditioned yourself early on in the game. And yet, while the positions themselves may differ, the mindset during masturbation is almost always the same -- present.
4. Masturbation can improve your sex life. The better you know yourself, the better your partner can know you. In fact, masturbating in front of your partner is not only a fantastic way to spice up your sex life, but it can also teach your partner what makes you feel pleasure, which is -- let's face it -- not always the easiest notion to convey.
Moral of the story: masturbate. It help you to center yourself while simultaneously enhancing your sexual intimacy. You'll soon find that better sleep, reduced stress, and radiant self-confidence go hand in hand with a little one-on-one time with the most important person in your life: you.
Turns out, some taboos might be good for you. So go ahead. Don't let the conclusion of National Masturbation Month serve as an excuse to end the act itself.
*Laqueur, Thomas W. 2003. Solitary Sex: A Cultural History of Masturbation. Zone Books.
For further reading:
Brown, Kirk Warren, and Richard M. Ryan. 2003. "The Benefits of Being Present: Mindfulness and Its Role in Psychological Well-Being." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 84(4):822-48. Retrieved July 9, 2014 (http://doi.apa.org/getdoi.cfm?doi=10.1037/0022-3518.104.22.1682).
Haavio-mannila, Elina, D. Ph, Osmo Kontula, and D. Ph. 1997. "Correlates of Increased Sexual Satisfaction." Archives of Sexual Behavior 26(4):399-419.
Hurlbert, David Farley, and Carol Apt. 1994. "Female Sexual Desire, Response, and Behavior." Behavior Modification 18(4):488-504.