Kinky, BDSM-Style Sex Can Help Relieve Stress, New Study Says

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It turns out that kinky sex you've been having can do a lot more than get you off — it can actually help relieve stress.

How? A new study conducted by researchers over at Northern Illinois University found that BDSM sex (you know, "50 Shades" style bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, and sadism/masochism) works to increase mindfulness, a hyper awareness and acceptance of the current moment.

And, whaddya know, an increase in mindfulness can reduce your stress levels.

A new study found that BDSM sex can increase mindfulness, which reduces stress.

When the researchers looked at people engaging in BDSM-style sex, they noticed that they were regularly entering a "flow state" of mindfulness, which is apparently the same mental state athletes get into when they're "in the zone."

The study's lead author, Brad Sagarin, Ph.D., explains:

Flow is an enjoyable and pleasurable state that people get into when they are performing an activity that requires a high level of skill. It's a state in which the rest of the world kind of fades away and somebody is concentrating very intensely only on what they are doing.

I know what you're wondering: How in the world did the researchers go about finding this out? Well, they recruited seven couples and randomly assigned one partner to be the "top" (aka the dominant who gives orders) and the other to be the "bottom" (aka the submissive who obeys the dominant).

The researchers then watched the couples have sex (yeah, I'm not making this up), while simultaneously taking notes of the types of activities occurring. Afterwards, they measured the couples' stress, cortisol and testosterone levels, mood, feelings of closeness, and their "flow state" experiences.

The researchers found that the "flow state" phenomenon during this kind of sex is, in fact, real and achievable. All people reported better moods, showed lower levels of stress and scored highly on the flow state scale.

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That being said, if you're not super into bondage or kinky sex, don't fret. Even though his team solely focused on BDSM-style intercourse, Sagarin offered some words of encouragement for people with less adventurous sex lives:

The mindful attention that people give to each other in the context of the BDSM scene has applications in other kinds of sexual interactions. If people are really focused on each other and the positive experience of their partner, we might see similar kinds of effects.

And to think you were wasting all of your money on yoga, meditation classes and herbal tea, when really, all you needed was some good, adventurous lovemaking to relieve your stress.

Citations: Why Kinky Sex Could Make You More Mindful (Shape), Consensual BDSM Facilitates Role-Specific Altered States of Consciousness: A Preliminary Study. (APA PsycNET)