Going nude. Birthday suits. In the buff. We have plenty of ways to say naked, yet many of us aren’t actually that comfortable being naked. However, some people swear by getting their kit off – to feel better in their skin, more empowered, or just for a bit of fun.
Whether it’s skinny-dipping in a wild water swimming spot, wandering around the house in the buff after a lazy lie-in, sunbathing nude or going to a spa where stripping off is the done thing – there are numerous occasions where being naked isn’t that unusual.
Of course, there are important things to keep in mind here too. You’ll want to follow the nudity laws of wherever you are, be considerate of the circumstances, location and other people, and make sure you slap on plenty of sunscreen if it’s sunny!
But, if stripping off is not something you’re used to, could it be worth trying? And could there be health and wellbeing benefits to taking your clothes off?
Boosting skin health and happy hormones
According to Dr. Paul O’Connell, a GP and co-founder of Physical Nutrition, being naked can be great for skin health.
“Clothing can inhibit the skin’s natural need to ‘breathe’, and being naked will allow sweat and toxins to dissipate, thereby improving skin condition,” he suggests.
O’Connell says stripping off can be great for your circulation too: “Tight clothing can limit the flow of blood in the skin and reduce lymphatic drainage. Being naked can promote both of these natural processes, and lead to less swelling and toxin build-up.”
If you’re going nude in the sunshine, you might see some more skin benefits – as long as you’re being sensible and wearing sunscreen. “Short-term sunlight exposure is beneficial for vitamin D production,” explains O’Connell.
Finding a safe space to go nude isn’t always easy – so you might want to try sleeping naked. O’Connell says this “keeps you cooler at night, promoting better sleep and improved metabolism”.
You might reap even more benefits if you’re sharing a bed with a partner. “Being naked and in close contact with someone else promotes the release of this hormone [oxytocin], which can make you calmer and reduce stress levels,” O’Connell adds.
Getting your adrenaline pumping
If the idea of getting your kit off makes you feel apprehensive or overwhelmed, you might feel an adrenaline rush when you first take the plunge.
O’Connell explains: “Adrenaline can be stimulating for the mind and body in the short-term, which can be beneficial to mental and physical health, but the caveat is if adrenaline release is unwanted or prolonged, then it can have negative health benefits.
“Adrenaline is released when we perceive danger, threat or excitement, so if getting naked has that effect on you, then short-term, this could be beneficial.
“Context is important, so any situation where you feel at risk should be avoided,” he stresses. “In short, do it on your own terms in a safe environment, and see if you enjoy it. If not, then get your kit back on and try something else instead – there are plenty of other ways to experience an ‘adrenaline rush’.”
Helping you feel free
As O’Connell says, getting naked “shouldn’t have to be exclusively sexual occasions”.
There are lots of occasions when stripping down is just part of the activity – saunas, gym changing rooms, etc – and it’s just bodies at the end of the day.
“Children enjoy the liberated physical and emotional sensations of playing naked, but sadly we lose that liberation as we grow up and become more inhibited,” notes O’Connell. “Being naked allows us to accept our bodies as they are, and hopefully get over any feelings of body shame that we hold.”
Author and therapist Marisa Peer agrees with this idea of freeing your body and mind.
“Being naked teaches you to accept yourself for who you are, and literally to be comfortable in your own skin,” says Peer.
“Clothes can feel restricting – how many women whip off their bra as soon as they get home from work for an instant feeling of relief?
Apart from when we have a shower or bath, we live our lives swathed in clothes, almost 24 hours a day. Being comfortable naked has an immensely freeing quality to it.”
Getting started may seem scary, but Peer says: “Our minds are creatures of habit and always prefer things that seem familiar. It comes down to training yourself to go naked and learning to feel comfortable with it.
When you get up in the morning, try walking around the house for the first 10 minutes without a robe on – enjoy the feeling of being free from inhibition.
“As we learn to accept ourselves and who we are physically, that inevitably affects our whole being. We realise our body does not represent who we are, and see how much time we’ve wasted worrying about our looks.”