Somewhere along the way, the idea of how to be sexy has been co-opted to feel like something you need to do for someone else. But true sexiness is something you need to do for you, way before you can even think about sharing your mojo with another person.
“It’s really important to be able to connect with your own sense of sexual self-esteem,” says New York City sex therapist Ian Kerner, PhD, author of She Comes First. “In a relationship, showing up for someone sexually isn’t something you turn on and off like a light switch. You have to cultivate your own arousal first.”
Obviously, there are some mega perks with this. Feeling sexy “allows you to feel confident and connected to yourself,” says sex therapist Debra Laino. “It validates yourself without the need for someone else's approval.”
Here’s how to feel sexy all the time, so you can send your confidence Through. The. Roof.
1. Wear special lingerie on a normal day.
It’s so easy to fall into the habit of breaking out your “good” underwear when you know you’re going to get laid. But wearing something special on an ordinary day can give you a serious mental boost, says Rachel Needle, a sex therapist and licensed psychologist at the Center for Marital and Sexual Health of South Florida.
If you don’t own any special lingerie, it's time to go pick some out, she says. You don’t need a partner to indulge in that.
2. Go to a workout class to feel sexier.
It’s no secret that exercise is good for your health. But it also helps you relieve stress and feel better about yourself, Kerner says. “Exercising regularly can help get rid of inhibitions that people have to feeling sexual,” he says. (Plus: endorphins!)
If body image is an issue for you, pretzel up on your yoga mat: A 2019 study found that a regular yoga practice (over 12 weeks) can lower body dissatisfaction for a serious surge in confidence.
3. Shell out for a massage.
Touch is an important element of sexuality, and massage helps boost your inner sexiness in a few ways, Laino says. One, it helps release the feel-good hormone oxytocin, giving your mind a serious boost.
Two, massage is amazing for stress reduction—and nothing torpedoes sexy feelings like stress, Laino says.
4. Lounge around your place naked.
On a regular basis, you’re probably only in the nude for a few key moments, like when you’re in the shower and during the five seconds (or 20 minutes) it takes for you to get dressed.
But making a point to be naked—and luxuriating in it—can help you feel better connected to your body, Laino says. And that's clutch for getting in touch with your sexuality.
5. Actually pay attention to your posture.
You know, you know—you’re supposed to stand up straight, but it can be hard to do this if it's not your norm. Checking yourself throughout the day and adopting a “power pose” (with your head up, shoulders back, and having straight, aligned posture) can make you feel more confident and sexy, Laino says.
Also, total side note: Great posture is a sign of a strong core, which is good for sex, Laino says.
6. Touch yourself.
This can be as simple as taking some time to slowly brush your hair or gently rub lotion all over your body, to as full-on as masturbating—something all sex experts recommend.
“Masturbating is a great way to connect into your own fantasy life, sense of eroticism, and to keep an infrastructure of arousal going,” says Kerner. He also notes that solo sex is a way to make time for yourself (and prioritizing you = validating your self-worth).
Needle even recommends setting aside time to touch yourself to make sure you actually do it.
7. Do something outside your norm.
There’s a wide range here. You could travel to a new place or even just try a different dish at your go-to restaurant. The key is breaking out of your routine and trying something—anything—different.
“These types of things allow you to feel confident and independent, which can also translate into sexy,” Laino says.
8. Get your Fifty Shades on to amp up sexy feelings.
Reading an erotic story, watching a hot movie, or checking out some good porn can help “nourish” your sexy side, says Kerner. “We spend a lot of time attending to other people’s needs,” he adds. “Allowing your sexual imagination to be piqued feed your own needs.”
9. Unleash your inner Beyoncé.
This goes back to feeling in touch with your body. Dancing allows you to connect with parts of your body that regular exercise doesn’t, Laino says. You can kick it up a notch by asking Alexa to play a sexy playlist and working it.
10. Break out the candles.
Lighting some candles and turning down the lights can be great for feeling sexy in a few ways.
Candles are just straight-up sexy—particularly if you opt for sensual, woodsy scents—and can get you in the mood really fast, since they tend to be associated with sex.
Also, “everyone looks good in candlelight,” Laino says. That’s why she often recommends that her clients undress in candlelight and look in the mirror as a therapeutic exercise to help them feel connected to their bodies.
You could opt for a standard wick candle—or consider one that melts into a body-massage oil (because tip #3...and #6), like the one from Maude or Lelo.
11. Put on that dress to feel sexy.
Owning the room can be a challenge when you’re wearing something that you don’t feel great in. So, on days when you need a boost, wear something that shows off your best assets.
This can allow you to look in the mirror and see that you are sexy, knowing that you have parts of your body that you love, even in the face of parts that you don't particularly like,” Laino says.
Everyone has a go-to outfit that makes them practically sashay down the street—whip it out as often as needed. (And maybe pair it with a killer blowout to boot.)
12. Unplug. No, really.
That means your phone, TV, computer, and tablet should all go away for a set period of time. “It’s stress reduction, plain and simple,” Laino says. “This is really important for feeling sexy.”
If you feel like your sexy baseline is pretty weak, it might take some time to get to the point where you feel like a 24/7 sexpot. But making these little tricks a habit can go along way toward getting you there sooner.
So, repeat, repeat, repeat—then go on being your fine-ass self.
This article originally appeared on Women's Health US.