Whole Life Magazine

February / March 2017

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Page 15 of 43

healthy living By Laura G. Owens Rock Body YOUR CONFRONTING LIFE'S BIG QUESTIONS IS GOOD FOR MENTAL HEALTH ADJUST YOUR "SEXPECTATIONS" FOR A HAPPIER SEX LIFE MACA MAY BOOST SEX DRIVE D o you believe in "sexual soulmates?" If so and your sexual satisfaction is meh, you might unwittingly be under- mining your otherwise healthy relation- ship. According to a 2016 study published in the Journal of Person- ality and Social Psychology, peo- ple who subscribe to sexual "desti- ny" tend to gauge their relationship according to their sexual satisfaction. But the fact is, after the two- or three-year honey- moon period when sexual satisfaction naturally dips, it's all about making an effort. "We know that disagreements in the sexual domain are somewhat inevita- ble over time," says Jessica Maxwell, an author of the study. "Your sex life is like a garden, and it needs to be watered and nurtured to maintain it." Women are more likely than men to subscribe to the soulmate/sexual des- tiny notion, but they're also more likely to believe in sexual growth. Evidence suggests this is because sexual satisfaction takes more work for women so they're more likely to un- derstand the importance of making an effort. Believing in sexu- al-growth helps buffer problems in the boudoir, but not if the problems become too big. The study didn't focus on the media's infl uence on people's "sexpecta- tions" in relationships, but Maxwell found she could prime subjects' attitudes with phony magazine articles that focused on either the idea of sexu- al soulmates or that a satisfying sex life takes work. So beware of buying into The Bachelor's image that sexual soulmates = a strong relationship. After a while, both take hard work. M aca has long been revered in the ancient Incan culture for its ability to enhance sex drive, improve mental clarity, and boost energy. Like ginseng, Maca is an adaptogen that reduces stress and fatigue to bring the body back into balance. Maca isn't a magical aphrodisi- ac and research fi ndings are mixed, but a few studies found it improved mild male erectile dysfunction and boosted sexual desire in both men and women. No one knows exactly why Maca boosts libido (in some people) but it contains substantial amounts of ami- no acids, carbohydrates, and miner- als including calcium, phosphorous, zinc, magnesium, iron, as well as vita- mins B1 and B2. Chris Kilham, author of Hot Plants writes, "Maca enjoys a very long his- tory of successful medicinal use for menopausal discomfort, infertility, and sexual healing. The question is not whether it works—because we know it works with certainty—but how it works." W hy am I here? Is there a God? You may not have the answers, but your willingness to grapple with life's big questions is good for your mental health according to a study published in the Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science. "Religious and spiritual struggles— confl icts with God or religious people, tough questions about faith, morality, and the meaning of life—these are of- ten taboo topics, and the temptation to push them away is strong," said Ju- lie Exline, professor of psychological sciences at Case Western Reserve and co-author of the research. When people believe spiritual ques- tioning is morally wrong, rather than accept the struggle as a natural hu- man response, they're more likely to become depressed, anxious, and have diffi culty regulating emotions. Moreover, people unwilling to ac- cept spiritual confl icts may avoid en- gaging with people of different faiths, beliefs, and backgrounds because they view differences as threatening. They may reject whole groups of people based on religious identity or sexual orientation differences. "Looking at spiritual doubts in an objective way seems to help. You may or may not work through them, but at least you can tolerate having them," said Exline. 16 wholelifetimes.com

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