There are three main external reasons that guys slip up – boredom, relational tension, and stress. It's amazing that in the 12-18 years of formal education we experience, very little is taught on personal finances, relational intelligence, and stress management – three areas that every person is guaranteed to deal with in their adult years. Furthermore, three areas that contribute significantly to someone's quality of life.
The reality is that if you manage your stress, you manage your life. This is especially true in the recovery process. There are three different types of stress – eustress [good stress], distress [bad stress], chronic [repeating]. We want to avoid chronic stress at all costs. The body is not designed to stay in a stressed state.
Eustress includes anything that is stressful, but ultimately has a positive impact. Some people love working under pressure so deadlines, curveballs in a project, and those kinds of things are considered eustress for them. They are pleasant stresses or at least have some degree of positivity to them.
Distress is what we most commonly think of when we hear stress. These are the things in live that have adverse effects. It's the overwhelm of adult responsibilities. Worry about the future. Fear or failure, poverty, rejection, etc. These are distressors and they can cause major problems.
Remember that your brain and body are designed to handle stress. The goal is not to live stress-free lives. Instead, the goal is improve our ability to respond to stress. Without these abilities, the brain becomes overwhelmed, the body becomes frail, and diseases of both begin to emerge.
In a recovery context, stress management is all the more important for two specific reasons. Firstly, the stress of a porn addiction is real, and it can lead to a worsening of the addiction itself, or other poor decisions (over/under eating, lying, manipulation, toxic relationships, etc). Secondly is that porn and masturbation offer temporary stress relief. The operative word here is "temporary." The relief does not last, and as we know, it actually makes things much worse.
All is to say that managing stress in your life is paramount for lasting freedom. So how do you manage stress? Well there are a few things you can do practically...
BREATHE. So simple, but breathing exercises go a very long way to reducing stress. It relaxes the body and re-engages the prefrontal cortex – the part of your brain that thinks rationally.
BOUNDARIES. Sometimes, a boundary is needed to reduce the stress of a situation. It could be a boundary at work ("I can't take on that project right now, my plate is full"), in a relationship ("I'd love to have that conversation, but I'm already feeling overwhelmed. Could we have the conversation tomorrow?", with yourself ("I will not go on my phone past 9pm.").
BIBLE. The Bible is not only chock-full of wisdom, encouragement and truth, it is also a great place to find relief. Regularly, David referred to God as his refuge. The Bible is a great place to find comfort for the cares of life.
JOURNAL. Personally, nothing is more helpful for stress management than my journal. A safe place to write things out candidly can be very useful. The best part is after I vent and 'dissolve' the stress, I get to hear God's perspective. This is really helpful for mitigating stress.
TALK. Whether it's with yourself, someone else, or God, start talking. Male tendency is to be quiet when we are stressed, but sometimes it's helpful to just talk. In most self-defence arts, they teach that your first line of defence is your voice. Before you move your body, move your lips. This is a powerful defence against stress accumulation.
It takes time, but with practice and diligence, you will start to notice your stress levels reduce and you'll be making better decisions as a result. I know you can do it.
Cheering you on, Sathiya
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Sathiya Sam is an expert coach and international speaker that helps men overcome pornography addiction. His work has been featured on 700 CLUB, 100 Huntley Street, and Fight The New Drug's Consider Before Consuming.
We consulted hundreds of conversations, dozens of recoveries, and several scientific studies to identify 5 KEY practices every recovered man implements. If you are looking to get started on the recovery journey, this guide is for you.