For many people 2021 has not started as a ‘happy new year’. We may all be glad to see the back of 2020, but I suspect many of us were not prepared for the devastation of a third wave of Covid and another lockdown. Yet again we find ourselves unable to meet friends and family, enjoy sport and recreation, or travel further than a few miles from our home ‘without good reason’. In circumstances like these, it’s hard to make any resolutions beyond keeping safe and getting through this.  

Committing to sex addiction recovery or porn addiction recovery is difficult at the best of times, but if you’re currently going through the worst of times, it may feel even harder. Many people are tempted to postpone their recovery until life is easier, but the reality is that compulsive sexual behaviours have never made anything better. They may give an illusion of ‘feeling’ better, but more often than not, the regret and shame that follows overshadows any temporary relief. 

Perhaps you’re doing well in your recovery and the new year has given you greater impetus to achieve your goals? Or perhaps you started the year well but your resolution is beginning to fade? Or perhaps you’re riddled with procrastination and you’re waiting for a fresh rush of inspiration? Wherever you’re at, today is a new day and all you need to do is focus on doing the right thing today. Taking ‘one day at a time’ is a cliché, but like most clichés there’s great wisdom within those words. Any resolution is easier to maintain if we keep our focus on today rather than worrying about how we’ll manage in the future.  

The principles of beating sex addiction and porn addiction

The process of recovery is often seen as something complicated when in actual fact it can be broken into two simple principles. Principles that apply wherever you may be in your recovery and whatever is happening in the world.  Those principles are 1. Practice self-care and 2. Plan ahead.  

Practice self-care

Self-care is at the root of all addiction recovery and it’s something that needs to become a regular part of your daily routine. The primary function of all addictive behaviours is to manage uncomfortable feelings. Those feelings may be boredom, loneliness, anger, disappointment, or simply an absence of any other kind of meaningful or enjoyable reward. By practicing good self-care, you can avoid some of those uncomfortable feelings in the first place and have healthy strategies for soothing the emotions you can’t avoid. The way in which you practice self-care will vary from individual to individual but it begins with the basics of eating a healthy diet, getting a good night’s sleep and taking regular exercise. In addition, it means spending time with friends and family, and whilst face to face is preferable, online is better than nothing; taking time to relax and unwind, perhaps through meditation or mindfulness or enjoying a good film or book; enjoying hobbies, regrettably limited to your home environment at the moment, but that still leaves a good scope including arts and crafts, home improvements, gardening, brewing, baking, learning a new musical instrument or language. Another self-care habit that many people in recovery find beneficial is writing a daily gratitude list and checking in by writing a daily journal. 

Plan ahead 

One of the most common causes of relapse is opportunity. During lockdown that’s most likely to mean finding yourself alone in the house with unprotected internet. Others struggle with particular times of the day, such as the twilight hours when they wake up or Sundays when they’re nursing a hangover from the night before. Or there may be particular situations that are challenging such as after completing a particularly arduous piece of work or when there’s conflict or disharmony within the home with other family members. This is where planning ahead is essential, either to avoid those situations and times in the first place, or to have a strategy to manage the time in a more productive way. The obvious solutions are usually the best such as setting an alarm to get up rather than lying in bed dozing and not getting drunk in the first place so you don’t have a hangover. Put porn blocking software on all your device such as Covenant Eyes or Qustodio and schedule self-care into your diary for the occasions when you know life may be particularly challenging. 

Regrettably slips and relapses are often part of the recovery journey and it’s essential not to see these as a failure or an excuse to give up, but rather to use it as a learning opportunity for how you might have practiced better self-care or planned ahead. 

If you’d like more information about recovery, then do get a copy of my book, Understanding and Treating Sex and Pornography Addiction (Routledge 2018) . https://www.amazon.co.uk/Understanding-Treating-Sex-Pornography-Addiction-dp-0815362285/dp/0815362285/ref=dp_ob_title_bk.  Or come to one of my regular online workshops https://thelaurelcentre.co.uk/courses/the-kick-start-workshop

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