Aftercare is the recovery from a scene or play, where a set of actions help the mind and body relate to the change in physical and emotion energy expended. It is common for feelings of sadness or a sudden emotional response to occur in the hours, and sometimes days following a scene. Coming up with a plan for aftercare is essential to ensuring proper self care in those who practice BDSM.

Before you begin, ensure you communicate your aftercare needs to any play partner by creating an aftercare plan, and have any items you need ready and available in an aftercare kit.

The Emotional Response

Your body reacts to a scene through varying degrees because of chemical responses that occur, endorphins for example are released in response to pain reducing the body’s sensitivity, and adrenaline causes energy levels to spike. Once a scene has ended, those energy levels can dissipate rapidly while the numbness remains, the sudden change is easily misinterpreted as an absence or vacuum of sensations. This is often referred to as sub-drop.

The Physical Response

While your tolerance for pain increases during play, it is common to have visible injuries that occur as part of an impact scene, but also possible to have non-apparent injuries such as bruising or muscle fatigue. It is important to be aware of the type of scene you are experiencing in order to know how what your body will need in the moments, hours and days following play.

Coming up with an Aftercare Plan

A good aftercare plan includes addressing your emotional needs as well as your physical needs. Below are suggestions on what to include.

Communication

  • Talk to your partner – tell your partner up front what your aftercare needs are, share during and after how you are feeling, changes in your mindset – continuous communication can help reduce the drop associated from the sudden change in energy and activity
  • Keep a journal – writing your feelings and recalling the details of a scene direcrectly following play can help process your feelings and emotions
  • Spend time with friends – it can be immediately after or in the following time later, plan to talk with friends, share your feelings – can be a great outlet so you don’t feel disconnected or alone

Rejuvenation

  • Drink water – before, during, and after a scene, your body needs to remain hydrated to maintain cognitive function in the brain, regulates body temperature, breathing and a host of other restorative properties
  • Have a snack – foods like chocolate stimulate the release of endorphins which can help slow the reduction in energy levels, natural sugars and comfort foods can also positively affect mood
  • Wear something warm – adrenaline causes the body to warm, after a scene it is common to feel cold as your body literally cools itself, blankets or warm clothes can help
  • Keepsake or sentimental items – something that brings you into a positive headspace, a song you enjoy, a picture of a fond memory, a trinket – can help your mindset

First Aid

  • Gauze, bandaids, antiseptic & soap – be prepared for if lacerations or abrasions occur, cleaning the skin is important, in the case of bleeding, be prepared to bandage it
  • Lotion / cream – to help ease the pain of bruising and increase the healing time of skin, cream with arnica is soothing, lotions with vitamin E help repair skin
  • Ice packs – for deep impact, having ice on hand will help reduce the swelling – as well for lacerations ice can help what is often an underlying bruise and reduce blood flow to the area

Create Your Aftercare Plan

The below guide should help anyone build their own aftercare plan using these guiding principles:

  • General aftercare protocols – items needed regardless the type of scene engaged in
  • Impact / bondage play – first aid requirements for play with higher physical demands such as impact play with tools, or bondage using rope where muscles are strained
  • Orgasm / intense sub-space – some play is more likely to create extended aftercare needs lasting hours or days
General AftercareImpact / Bondage PlayIntense Scene Recovery
Communication:



Rejuvenation:


Buising:



Laceration / Abrasion:



Communication:



Rejuvenation:


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