The secret to great sex? You. “It’s hard to have a healthy, happy sexual relationship with another human if you don’t know how to have one with yourself,” says Jenny Block, sex educator and author of The Ultimate Guide to Solo Sex. Taking matters into your own hands is the best way to learn what turns you on, what turns you off and the basics of how your body works. It’s also a great reminder of the love you deserve—with or without a partner.

 

“I’m a big believer in you complement me—not, you complete me,” says Block. “And in a world where everyone is trying to sell you something to make life better, the truth is, masturbation is a really simple, safe, drug-free way to get your brain and body feeling good again.”

 

And while you may be getting off solo, you’re definitely not alone. On average, 74 percent of American women age 18 and older say they have masturbated at some point in their lives, according to the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior. “We wouldn’t be equipped with the ability to self-pleasure if that wasn’t how it was supposed to work, so as far as I’m concerned we should all think of it as a form of self-care,” says Block.

 

Whether you’ve had plenty of practice or are new to self-play, we could all use a little more hands-on experience. Here, a few fun ideas to get your party of one started.

 

Set the mood

For most women, it’s hard to get your body off if your brain’s not in it, too. “If it’s hard to get in that frame of mind without a partner, I recommend literary erotica,” says Block. The act of reading is relaxing and the steamy content gets you in a state where you’ll want to take care of things. Need some recs? “Try The Sleeping Beauty Quartet written Anne Rice under the pseudonym A. N. Roquelaure or anything by Anais Nin,” says Block.

 

Allow yourself to enjoy yourself

Spend more time applying lotion to your body, run your fingernails down the back of your neck and just take a moment to be present in your body. “It’s so easy to lose touch,” says Block. “We get hung up on the wrong things—like analyzing an imaginary thigh gap in the mirror—when we should be using those 10 minutes to touch our thighs and really feel the sensations.” Only when you give yourself permission to enjoy your body, will you really know what kind of touch you like, how hard, how soft and where.

 

Keep a masturbation journal

Ok, we know it sounds weird, but hear us out. On the days you pleasure yourself, write down the way you feel and how the rest of your day went. “Masturbation creates this amazing afterglow—you feel all heady and have the sex hormones running through you and there’s something very affirming about it,” says Block. “Most people are surprised by how much better the days are when they begin with a little self-love.”