(Health.com) -- You've tried lighting candles and slipping into something lacy, but let's face it: After a long day it sometimes feels darn near impossible to get in the mood.
"Women do so much juggling, they can put their sexuality on the back burner and lose that connection with their sensual side," notes Marianne Brandon, Ph.D., author of Reclaiming Desire.
But it's not a lost cause, she adds: "By taking a few deliberate steps, you can reconnect with your sensuality."
1. Heighten your senses Tune in and turn on: Women who regularly focus on what they see, smell, feel, and hear report higher levels of arousal and sexual satisfaction, reports a study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.
To get in the habit, choose one snack a day to eat thoughtfully, suggests lead researcher Lori Brotto, Ph.D. Note the food's texture, taste, and aroma, as well as the emotions it evokes. By practicing being more present, you'll be better able to plug into the sights, sounds, smells, and sensations that get you hot and bothered, from the smell of his skin to the feel of the crisp cotton sheets on your body.
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2. Change the conversation We're guessing your daily dialogue with your man revolves around decidedly unsexy things, like who's calling the cable guy. So even the slightest allusion to racy thoughts can put you in a more passionate state of mind, notes Yvonne K. Fulbright, Ph.D., a relationship expert in New York City. Shoot him a text from your desk that hints at some sexy moment: "Remember the time we did it in the kitchen?"
"This sort of flirty texting puts sex on both of your radars, and builds anticipation for it," Fulbright says.
3. Don't put on sexy lingerie Unless it makes you feel sexy, that is. For some women, a lacy get-up can feel like a straitjacket—not helpful. "Wear what makes you feel sensual, not what your partner thinks is hot," Brandon says.
It will make a bigger difference to your libido, she adds, if you rock these pieces outside the bedroom. Don a silk blouse that feels like heaven on your skin or dangly earrings that graze your neck. "It shifts your attention to your body," Brandon notes, "reminding you that sensuality is a part of who you are."
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4. Get your heart racing Whether it's yoga or running, doing any exercise that kindles body confidence can boost your sex drive. A study in the Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality found that the more often we work out, the more desirable we feel. "Women who exercise have higher sexual self-esteem, which means they may have a greater desire to have sex," says lead researcher Tina M. Penhollow, Ph.D.
No time for that Zumba class? Even a brisk walk around the block can increase blood flow throughout your body, upping arousal.
5. Soak in a sweet photo of him In a Rutgers University study, MRI scans revealed that when people looked at a photo of their significant other for 30 seconds, it triggered activity in the area of the brain that produces the libido-helper dopamine. "As the chemical courses through your brain, it produces feelings of wanting," says lead researcher Helen Fisher, Ph.D.
Her advice: Pull out your camera phone on the way home and look at a favorite shot of him. The feelings stirred up by that 30-second act last long after you get home.
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6. Go in for a 20-second hug While the average hug lasts for 3 seconds, a study showed that hugging for 20 seconds increases your levels of the bonding hormone oxytocin. "Touch triggers feelings of deep attachment, which often leads to sexual desire in women," Fisher says. So linger a little longer in that kiss, or touch his arm while you recap your day—every bit of contact helps.
Copyright Health Magazine 2011