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Creating Physical Arousal


Explanations > Motivation > Creating Physical Arousal

Joining | Sex | Exercise | Threat | So what?


Physical arousal occurs where the person is energized by physical touch or use of the body in some way. Creating physical arousal can be useful when you want to activate and motivate people. Here's ways of doing this.

Joining: Touch

When people touch one another it can be like a bolt of electricity, which may be pleasant or unpleasant, depending on the perceived intent. It can also be warm and comforting, as in a friendly hug. Strong grips and striking of course are undesirable, though still arousing (typically in the fight/flight reaction).

Touch joins people, giving a sense of uniting identities as 'two become one'. This helps the need to connect with others yet challenges the desire for a separate identity.

Gently touching in safe zones such as arm or back is often friendly, although this still depends on whether or not the toucher is seen as a threat.

So when you are with people and want to appear friendly, touch naturally them in safe zones. Watch for their reaction and occasionally repeat this if it seems to help.

Sex: Body/Mind

Well, yes, sexual arousal is such a big thing it has to have its own subsection. The urge to procreate (or at least enjoy orgasmic arousal) is so strong we have been called 'gene machines'. And unlike many animals, humans can have fun all year round.

Sexual arousal does not come just from touching erogenous zones. Arguably the mind and imagination have an even greater role in the pleasures to be gained.

Exercise: Sport

Our social system means we do not have to hunt for our food nor fight or flee predators. As a safer substitute, we indulge in voluntary exercise that gets the body going. The 'runner's high', for example, comes from natural opiates in the brain. The physical contact of many sports also lets us gain the pleasure of touching others without it appearing anti-social.

The physical arousal of exercise and sport is largely free and available to all, from jogging around the block to joining a local club or team.

Threat: Fight or Flight

When we are threatened, the fight-or-flight reaction releases a flow of adrenaline that activates our muscles and makes us feel more alert as it prepares our bodies for action.

The simple way of gaining this kind of arousal is to put yourself into danger, although walking blindly into the road is probably not the best alternative. Threat can come from sports, arguments, taking on challenging work and so on. Just be careful when seeking stimulation this way to balance it with a concern for safety and survival.

You can touch people as a dominance signal, showing you are the more powerful person and implying you could attack them if you chose. If they let you continue to touch them then they have accepted your dominant position.

So what?

Physical arousal can be important in building relationships, for example when touch is used to create bonding and closeness. Of course it happens when you get to sex too, but this is not the only use.

When you stimulate people physically, they become more alert and this can also bring up other arousals.

See also

Arousal principle, Creating Emotional Arousal, Creating Cognitive Arousal

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