In my last guest post from Alex, he looked at discomfort in social situations - specifically how social situations can act as a catalyst to porn use and shying away from authentic sexual experiences - with men or women. Today we are going to look at how stress plays a huge role in that discomfort, and how you can overcome it to become your best self and kick Porn Addiction for good.
Start with a normal day. You wake up to some type of jarring alarm sound forcing you into consciousness - more than likely you didn’t get the 8 hours of sleep that you needed because your mind was running on high, you were tossing and turning and didn't hit REM cycle - this all on its own starts your day off with stress. To combat the fatigue you grab a coffee - or two - to get your eyes open and wake yourself up. You try to get everything you need sorted for work, don't have time to eat or make lunch, but none the less, start the commute.
You jump in the car, or rush to catch public transit and without a doubt, in one form or another you hit traffic, deal with road rage drivers and somehow find yourself with a delay - your stress meter ratchets up. You hit work, deal with stress of deadlines, less than ideal co-workers and supervisors - this ratchets the stress up a little more on the ladder. While you’re at work, you are likely sitting all day - thia causes physical stress on your joints and muscles. Meanwhile mentally, you try to focus on what you need to do but distractions leech in. - BING a new email - BING a new text - BING someone commented on something on your Instagram/Vine/Twitter/Facebook and your brain constantly has to redirect itself to the task at hand - more stress. This last one is my nemesis. I am the worst with because I often found myself without many opportunities to be social in positive ways, so I would live vicariously through social media, which in itself was addictive and detrimental. It prevented me from getting out and making myself comfortable in public spaces.
Often we don’t take any of these above factors into consideration when thinking about the question ‘ Am I stressed?” Most would say no, myself included at times, and not realize that the chronic stress we put ourselves under living in the 21st Century is so much a part of the fabric of our everyday lives, it's hard to believe it is a stress at all.
So what does this have to do with Porn Addiction?
Chronic stress - a stress that is constant and consistent day in and day out - can have detrimental effects on our ability to function at a optimal level and push ourselves to try new, challenging and exciting things. It manifests in multiple forms of personal anxiety, and further destroys sleep patterns causing insomnia. When we are anxious, we look for immediate relief; it pushes us to look for comfort, and a safe space - in comes porn addiction. You know that it is there to alleviate that angst. The dopamine rush you feel with the idea of watching already eases that stress and anticipating being more relaxed is an addictive thought that surges through your brain. Porn is an easy fix for stress, and leaves you feeling momentarily alleviated after a normal but subconsciously stressful day.
Normal life events cause various types of chronic and acute stress including but not limited to physical stress from over exerting oneself, emotional stress from lack of connection with other like minded people, psychological stress from trying to deal with less that ideal people - be it work associates, family members or forced social scenarios.Below we are going to break down stressors into their parts, minimize them so you can move towards tackling fun, helpful experiences that reduce social anxiety and performance anxiety- that will take you away from porn addiction.
Every day we have the opportunity ( or misfortune) of experiencing these varied forms of stress, feeling uncomfortable, and working through them to eliminate them for good. Let me preface this with saying I know it's not all going to come at once. These are small changes and tweaks that over time, can make a monumental impact on your daily life, and help you kick porn from your habits for good.
Sometimes we fail, sometimes we are challenged and still fail, and sometimes we make marginal gains. It is not going to come all at once, and it is not supposed to. These are all normal functions of taking initiative and persevering to make positive and monumental change. The discomfort experienced we make these life changes shows us what we can do and where our challenges lie. By knowing weaknesses in making lifestyle changes, we can highlight where more energy needs to be allocated to make personal improvements.
These experiences, and the way that we choose to overcome them anchor us to our personal identity - something we cannot harness until we FACE the discomfort.
Gain Confidence Through Small Actions
Quantity of action - not necessarily quality of action.
The first thing I can say from experience is START BY STARTING. It is easy to sit back and say to yourself, I am not going to be able to: get more sleep/workout more/be more mindful so I am not going to bother doing and of them at all. This in and of itself is a failure - you have to start by trying. This goes not only for ditching the porn addiction, but taking action to alleviate the stress that is triggering your porn addiction and anxiety.
By putting in consistent work, you are going to see improvement, make mistakes and learn from them, and recognize how to correct them. Some of these fixes take time, and some are going to need to be modified to fit the routines you have in place already. Repeat, repeat, repeat. That is how we get better at something. Think of your favorite athlete. The training, practice, reflection, rehearsal that is involved in their success all comes out in the game. The only way that they get there is by building up the blocks of success:
Consciousness and Social Awareness
Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers outlines the keys of success is in practice. He says something close to 10,000 hours of practice yields success. I would go so far as to say that each person is different, you might master your new habits in a few weeks, others it may take a few months to iron out the kinks. Either way hours and hours of consistent practice, that alone is the only way to overcome challenges.
Get frustrated, Get angry, Get over it
It is without doubt you are going to set goal for success for yourself and find you are coming up short. Not meeting your goals for the week you get frustrated with yourself, break down and use porn to alleviate the discomfort for perceived failure. Now - get frustrated with yourself, get angry about the mis-step , and then get over it.
You can be your own worst enemy if you go into lifestyle changes with a' Make or Break' attitude. Get that out of your head now, because it will be your #1 brick wall to change. More often than not, I found myself saying, well I tripped up, I am never going to get this right, I may as well give up.
In the mistakes, and trip-ups we learn where some of our weaknesses are. This, is actually an asset to making changes. If you can pinpoint your triggers, you are more likely to modify your behavior to NOT let that trigger get you a second time.
Great work comes from great practice. Take a shot, from every angle, find out your weak points, and make sure that you cover all of your bases. By challenging your weaknesses and working through them with grunt work and hard effort, you will find success.
Lack of Sleep - The crutch to your mental and physical well being is sleep. It is also the hardest to cultivate with a running mind. Here are a few tips to get the most from your sleep:
- Meditation - The benefits of meditation for sleep are profound. This app works two fold, it can be used to lull you into sleep, or used for general relaxation during the day.It’s called Calm . Depending on your habits you could use it on your drive to work to drowned out the noise and maintain some clarity before work, or right before you go to bed.
- Melatonin - Our bodies produce melatonin to help balance our circadian rhythms, which can get out of whack when we are too stressed or anxious. Taking a supplement can encourage your body to kick start the sleep cycle.
- Exercise - Take a walk or get a late night workout it. Moderate exercise has proven benefits in improving sleep quality if performed 4 x /week.
Making time - Finding time to get yourself to work, with everything you need, finding time to exercise, eat healthfully are all time constrained stressors that weigh on us daily. Below are a practices to implement to streamline the weekdays and alleviate that chronic stress.
- Make a to-do list - every evening before you go to bed for the next day. Google Keep is great for this - it syncs to all devices, so you can make it on your phone or computer at work before you leave. This list will not only stop you from thinking about what you might have to do and what-if scenarios but also curb wandering minds at night.
- Meal prep once a week - pick a day that will be your meal prep day. Make a list of foods you will need the day. This is a great one from bodybuilding.com , it gives you a long list of foods to get, and meals to prepare with them. They are healthy, easy to prepare, and save you a lot of hassle thinking about what to eat/get ready for the week. It makes eating a no-brainer.
- Meditate - see above. The health benefits span sleep, everyday habit forming behavior and general mindfulness. Another great app to check out is Headspace . It's touted as the # 1 meditation app to help combat stress and anxiety.
Dealing with frustrating people/colleagues
- Set clear social boundaries. Rather than asking someone how they are when the come to see you or call- ask them how you can help them - why they came to see you or called you. This avoids unnecessary chatter and helps drive focus and intent to your conversations. This way general personality issues do not come up when you keep it professional and to the point.
- Avoid unnecessary meetings - staying focused on your work can help you feel more productive and prevent your mind from wandering. Your obligation is to yourself and what you need to complete in the course of a day - this reduces stress. Keeps you on task and focused on what you need to do.
- Reduce interruptions. It takes the mind 10 minutes to focus on a task. If you mind is interrupted, it will take your brain an average of 10 minutes to get back on track. The more distractions you have in the span of your work day, the harder it is to get your to-do list done, which can lead to chronic stress. Setting clear office times will alleviate constant interruptions.
Social media distractions
- Eliminate the unnecessary. More often than not, you have email, text and phone messages and are on auto-pilot. Make the conscious decision at work to set an auto-responded for all incoming messages stating that you check your email 2/3/4 times a day. 4 would be my recommended max. This allows you to not jump at every email you receive. Whatever it is, it is not the end of the world if you don’t see it immediately. Eliminating the habit of jumping at every notification allows you to focus on the task at hand.
- Turn off notifications - This is a hard one to do at first, but you will thank me in the long run. It took me forever to stop checking my phone/email and social media every few minutes. This was detrimental to my well being for two reasons - 1. I validated myself through the instant connection on social media 2. It completely zapped my ability to focus and be present - socially and at work. Turn off all post notifications. You can go into any app at a given time and check for updates. Set this to a few times a day. Your mind and your work output will thank you for it .
- Web-fixes If you are viewing social media online - consider trying these two apps. One is called StayFocusd - it blocks social media websites. The other is called Rescue time - it helps you see how you are using your time online by tracking where you spend the most time online. If you already know you abuse social media, skip the second for the first to save yourself time.
Rather that focusing on the things that you aren’t doing, start thinking about what your daily stressors are, and how they are impacting you overall. Pick out some challenging points and work towards modifying your routines.
You might find it easy to overhaul many aspects of your daily routine all at once, others may feel it easier to change one at a time. Try and see what works best for you.
Whatever you do, don’t resist the discomfort of making a change. It is going to be different, and it is going to take resilience to stick with it. This practice will lend itself to kicking stress and in turn kicking your porn addiction for good.
Stick with it.
Any questions? Comments? Fire them down below.