Addressing Lower Sexual Desire During the Holiday Season:

Learn How to Cultivate your Own Erotic Wellness From Thanksgiving Through to New Years Day. 


Sometimes, sexuality studies don’t provide us with a full, nuanced picture of what folks are actually experiencing in their erotic lives over the holiday season. Does quantity really increase sexual desire or erotic wellness? As a gift to yourself this holiday season learn how to tell the difference and cultivate your own erotic wellness, pleasure and increased desire.

Most Popular Times Folks Report Sexual Activity

According to some studies the peak season for folks to have sex are the summer months, quickly followed by a lull in the fall. This pattern is seen in condom sales, Google searches for sexual content, online dating activity, conception rates, as well as STI rates. This might seem unsurprising given people take vacations during the summer, they spend time outdoors more, and perhaps they feel less encumbered by work and their kids’ school responsibilities (if they are parents). Even though people seem to have less sex in the winter than in the summer, there is a second peak in sexual activity appearing to be during the holiday season with the largest surge specifically in the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

In a study by Luis Rocha at Indiana University in collaboration with the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência in Portugal, researchers used birth rates, Google searches, and social media posts to dive deeper into the social and cultural trends that occur during the holiday season across nearly 130 different countries. Rocha et al were able to pinpoint an increase in sexual activity during the holiday months in both Christian and Muslim observing countries, regardless of their geography.  Interestingly, other holidays did not elicit the same interest in sex. 

A Study Addressing Women’s Lower Desire During the Holiday Season

However, it is important to note that these studies are narrowly focused solely on birth rates and Google searches and are not gaining insight into the quality of sexual pleasure of these partners into account and unfortunately focus solely on heterosexual couples, leaving the experience of LGBTQ+ couples, cohabitating couples, and non-monogamous pods out of the research outcomes entirely. These studies therefore don’t illustrate  the full picture of how partners experience levels of sexual desire during the holiday season. In an as yet unpublished study, researchers at Stanford University looked at data from 500,000 women and found less sex is reported in the three days leading up to Christmas than average, and that desire dip lingers for days until midnight on December 31, into New Year’s Day, when there is a spike in sexual activity worldwide. This finding furthers the curiosity around erotic desire and holiday seasons. 

What do Clients and Couples in Sex Therapy Actually Discuss as they Approach Thanksgiving, Christmas and the Holiday Season?

Interestingly in clinical practice, sex therapists and couples counselors tend to hear a similar narrative to the third study and different story from the first two studies when speaking to partners regarding their lower sexual desire during this heightened time. Many clients frequently report struggling with stress and anticipatory anxiety leading up to and during the holiday season stemming from:

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  • Balancing work responsibilities and planning for travel
  • Planning, shopping for and preparing holiday meals
  • Anticipating arguments and/or tension from unresolved family of origin dynamics 
  • Increased fatigue stemming from less sleep due to late-night online shopping for Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa and/or Diwali gifts
  • Additional attention  on caring for children, older family members and/or one’s partner’s enjoyment during the holiday.  
  • Less time for self-care like exercise, catching up with friends, or quiet time alone. 

These issues make it difficult for clients to cultivate pleasure and what I call erotic wellness, often leaving them with low sexual desire.  We must also focus on people’s authentic erotic desire and sexual pleasure as well. Prioritizing your sensual self and lust can help you implement techniques to cultivate erotic wellness for yourself individually and if you are in a relationship, to co-create erotic wellness with a partner in addition to your solo practice this holiday season. 

Cultivating Erotic Wellness During The Holiday Season 

What is Erotic Wellness? 

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I define erotic wellness as the state in which one feels in touch with one’s erotic fantasies, practices rituals and fun activities that stimulate what I’ve called one’s erotic triggers.This is part of what I term one’s Sex Esteem and can be practiced individually or with a partner. If your primary erotic trigger is touch, activities can include tactile experiences like swimming, taking a jacuzzi, or getting a massage. If your primary erotic trigger is sight, one might take some time to watch an explicit sexual media like feminist pornography, or a scene in your favorite film, or dressing in an outfit that awakens your own sexual empowerment. 

Many times folks consent to having a sexual encounter with a partner but aren’t as erotically turned on as they would be if their erotic triggers had been primed by themselves or a partner before they engage in partnered sex. This shift would allow the intimacy to be imbued with more pleasure and erotic playfulness. By cultivating an individual erotic wellness practice in your own body and mind before approaching a partner (if you’re currently involved with a partner) you have warmed up your erotic triggers and thereby increased your desire. Like other types of self care, this involves intentionally carving out time and space to focus on one’s sensual self and erotic triggers

Erotic Wellness Tips 

Here are some antidotes to help keep your erotic wellness alive during the holiday season:

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  • Reconsider a quickie with yourself. Quickies are sometimes assumed to be a turn off or for the sole purpose of one partner to reach orgasm. However, you can incorporate a sex toy in a shower, or bath, as a way to get your juices flowing, perhaps bringing yourself to orgasm or use it as a teasing experience to leave you wanting more. Quickies can be reclaimed for individual sexual activity and be used between family meals over the holiday visit to a family member’s home. 
  • Explore the erotic potential of staying in your childhood room when you return home for the holidays. For some it may be a turn on to explore and enact your teenage sexual fantasies or activities by making out with clothes on above the covers on your bed, having a bit of top off sexual play in the bathroom or looking at the erotica you might have watched as a kid. Being able to relive a time when you were young and sneakily got away with a naughty behavior  can be a huge psychological turn-on for some people. 

Holidays Can Also Be Vacation Time

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  • Create the vacation mentality. It is a holiday after all, find ways to incorporate the aspects you love about being on vacation. If you’re with your partner , fur-baby and/or kids, ask your family members ahead of time to take care of your kids or pets for a few hours so you can sleep in late, get some exercise in, or take a nap. You could even use this time to have slow sex with your partner and focus on each other’s pleasure. For a fuller vacation experience, book a hotel for a few nights nearby while your kids/pets are with the grandparents, so that you have evenings and mornings to catch up on sleep and erotic wellness. 
  • Give yourself a break. You don’t have to be involved in every planned activity with your relatives. Consider the time you request for  your erotic wellness  as a well-deserved gift you’re giving yourself during this bustling holiday  season.