Thursday, 01 October 2020

How does social nudity help reduce stress?

Written by Larry Gould
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There are various ways to reduce stress. You could take prescription tranquilizer drugs, such as anxiolytics, to reduce anxiety. But they can be addictive, and have other undesirable side-effects, as well as expense. Alcohol works too, but certainly has its own problems. Some other recreational drugs also work – but they’re mostly illegal. And if the factors causing your stress remain in place, do you really want to rely indefinitely on prescription drugs, alcohol, or illegal drugs for relief?

 

There are much better alternatives to reduce harmful levels of stress. The best way, of course, is simply to reduce or eliminate the source of stress – if you can. Quit a job that is too unpleasant. Get out of a bad relationship. Move to a place with a lower cost of living. And so on. But such things are more easily said than done. And suppose you’re stressed by something you just have little control over, such as fear of losing a job you like because of economic conditions. Or in-laws who drive you crazy. Or a serious health problem like early-stage cancer.

 

Social nudity can help, since it brings a number of inherently stress-reducing practices, opportunities, and features. Almost all of these are available to you outside of social nudity. But if you become involved with social nudity, you’ll find most of these things readily available as part of the package.

 

  1. Friendly social support system. One of the commonest sources of stress is loneliness and social isolation. By definition, social nudity can take care of that. It may require some considerable initial effort to even try social nudity. But if you manage to do that, you have a ready-made network of like-minded people to provide you with plenty of friendships and socializing opportunities.
  2. Increased self-confidence. For reasons covered above, chronic fear and anxiety are big stressors. Fear of failure in some endeavor is a very common type of fear. We’ve already covered how social nudity can help build self-confidence.
  3. Body acceptance. For many people, unhappiness about the appearance of their body is a big source of stress, and perhaps an obstacle to a happy social life. We’ve discussed this benefit of social nudity.
  4. Focus on the present instead of past/future. When you’re naked with other people, your attention tends to be strongly focused on the present, the here-and-now. This can overcome fears of unpleasant future prospects (e. g. job loss, family problems). It also overcomes feelings of remorse over past mistakes and failures, or reliving terrifying experiences of the past (PTSD). Without such negative emotions, psychological stress is automatically reduced.
  5. De-emphasis on social status. A great deal of clothing is designed to create messages about socioeconomic status (SES). Wearing expensive, fashionable clothes communicates that the wearer is successful and affluent. People who cannot afford to wear such clothing, or who simply prefer not to because of the social groups they identify with, are prone to feel they have low SES. A lot of research has shown that low SES is itself a source of stress, because people of low SES generally have less control over their lives. Clothing is certainly not the only means for signifying SES. But its absence in social nudity does remove one source of stress.
  6. Emphasis on positives. Normal, everyday life is a mixture of positives and negatives. Stress results when the latter significantly exceeds the former. The world of social nudity isn’t a perfect utopia – far from it. But it does distract attention from life’s negatives, and so promotes a more positive outlook on life. There’s less emphasis on things like physical appearance, social status, and conformance to unreasonable social norms. People involved in social nudity want to share the pleasure of being naked, because an individual’s happiness is enhanced when others are also enjoying life. Happiness is contagious.
  7. Nude yoga and meditation. Yoga and meditation are practices which emphasize emptying your mind of mundane concerns, “turning off the noise upstairs”. Although the details vary among different types of yoga and meditation, you learn to sharply narrow your mental focus (or unfocus it entirely), away from stressful thoughts. Although you can do yoga and meditation alone and/or without being naked, doing them naked, as part of a group, can reinforce your motivation to continue and advance your level of mastery. Both yoga and meditation are proven to reduce high blood pressure (caused by stress), at least while engaged in the practice, so they may be beneficial after particularly stressful experiences.
  8. Nude exercise. As was pointed out at the start, physical exercise was an integral part of German Lebensreform and early nudism. And like the other components of those movements, the health benefits were emphasized. You can still get plenty of exercise without being naked or part of a group. But as with yoga and meditation, this is something that’s often more satisfying as part of a group of naked people. And some types of exercise are simply not possible alone – volleyball, basketball, tennis, etc. What’s the connection with stress? Again, it’s the focus on the present, the here-and-now. And if exercise improves your physical fitness and general health, you may be able to lose weight and reduce psychological stress associated with obesity. If you join a landed nudist club, you also gain access to exercise facilities (swimming pools, tennis courts, gym equipment, etc.) as part of the deal.
  9. Nude soaking, sauna. Sweat lodges were used by indigenous people of the Americas long before Europeans arrived. Nobody knows when saunas were first used in Nordic countries, because it was before most of their recorded history. And natural hot springs were undoubtedly used by any humans who had access to them as long as there have been humans. Such things have been popular because they are physically relaxing and stress-reducing. This is probably because of endorphins that reduce stressful physical pain and tension. Even if you don’t own a sauna or spa yourself, if you participate in social nudity, there are probably others in the group (or club/resort) who do.
  10. Nude massage. There are many different types of massage, but most of them have been shown to reduce high blood pressure (caused by stress) and pain (which is a source of stress). Most commercial massage providers do not especially encourage full nudity, in spite of how any clothing interferes with a full-body massage. Many nudist clubs and resorts do offer fully nude professional massage. And many members of such clubs and resorts have learned to perform massage pretty well themselves. Physical touch, of course, is an integral part of any massage, and is stress-reducing by itself.
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