Quick background: 33y/o, been PMO’ing since age 15. Been trying to hit 90 days for five years. My best previous streak was 70 days. I’m getting married soon, and I’m looking to be free of this addiction for the sake of my marriage. At one point during my recovery I realized I’d been living like a selfish POS—drinking too much, not appreciating life, and just taking everything for granted. I was depressed, and the porn and alcohol was self medication. My depression made the porn withdrawal symptoms even worse.
Just knowing that porn withdrawal can cause horrifying physical symptoms was edifying and reassuring. I thought I was becoming mentally ill and was going to suffer from panic attacks forever. It’s important to remember the anxiety will pass. Try to be present with it. Mindfulness and CBT have been huge for me.
During this journey, we need to replace bad habits with good habits or we will fail. Simply not fapping isn’t enough. Here are the 11 habits that helped me:
Stop Being Selfish
The #1 problem with PMO is that it’s one of the most selfish things you can do. If you’re pleasuring yourself for hours at a time in front of your computer screen, you’re thinking of no one but yourself. If you help other people, you will feel better about yourself.
First thing in the morning, do a lovingkindness (AKA “metta”) meditation. If you’re religious, do a prayer of thanksgiving. Mine goes, “Dear God, thank you for the opportunity to learn, improve, and help others on this day.” Try to pray for others or think warmly of others (even people you hate). It will get you in a selfless mindset for the day. If you do this every day, you might become less selfish.
Stop Being Ungrateful
Consuming porn turns you into a resentful, complacent human being. You wake up groggy and irritable. You’re just trying to get through another mundane week at school or work so you can party, play videogames, or fap all weekend. You aren’t living at your full potential and you aren’t being thankful for the good things that you have.
Spend some time every day thinking about the good things in your life that you appreciate. Maybe it’s your friends and family. Maybe it’s your hobbies or talents. Even if you’re a depressed incel loner, there’s still something to be grateful for—even just an able body or sensory perception. Think, meditate, or pray warmly about these things. Practice being grateful. If you’re religious, just say thanks to God for your blessings.
Exercise rigorously. I mean like a crackhead. Run, jog, or do the stairmaster. If you’re a lifter, you need to add cardio to the mix, because endorphins are integral to this recovery process. I run in the morning or after work and it helps counteract withdrawal symptoms big time.
Keep Moving and Get Outside
If you work at a desk or sit on your couch all day, get up, go outside, and walk a few times to get your circulation moving. Sitting at a desk all day is devastating to your health. Get a standing desk if you can—switch between sitting and standing throughout the day. It is beneficial to absorb sunlight in your skin—we did not evolve to be indoors all day.
If you get brutal anxiety, try to actually accept the unpleasant feeling, and focus on it intently while you breathe normally. This is better than fearing it or trying to resist it, which can make it worse. Try to see anxiety as an opportunity to be present. L-Theanine, the calming agent found in green tea, can help, and you can take as much as 800mg a day.
Get the book “Mindfulness for Dummies” or something similar. Get audio tracks for guided meditations. Learn to be present. It will help tremendously if you have an overactive, ruminative brain like mine. I stop at a creek during my jogs to sit, focus on my breathing or the sounds of water. Just be present. Try 10 or 15 minutes a day at first. Don’t feel bad or judge yourself if your mind wanders—it’s natural.
The main idea behind CBT is that anxiety and depression are caused by distorted thinking. I actually think the reverse is true, but there are terrific techniques in CBT that you should learn. If you’re ruminating or dealing with fear, it helps to know the patterns of cognitive distortions. For example, if you call yourself a “failure” that is labelling and all or nothing thinking. No one is 100% a failure or a success—there are varying degrees of both, and there’s a lot of grey area in between.
If you think you are depressed, get into counseling immediately. If they refer you to a psychiatrist for medication, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. 10% of the population is on antidepressant medications. Don’t listen to blowhard bloggers who say you don’t need medicative help.
Keep a regular circadian rhythm. It’s hugely important to go to sleep at roughly the same time and wake up at the same time EVERY DAY including weekends. Don’t go out drinking all night, ever. It’s a great idea to quit drinking completely during your recovery. Almost all of my relapses have been during severe hangovers (everyone knows about the hangover horniness). If you can have a glass of wine or two without escalating to a bender, that’s fine.
Eat healthy. This one should be obvious. Don’t touch greasy junk food or fast food, aside from the occasional reward. Get plenty of fruits and veggies, and eat a lot of protein/good fats in the mornings (eggs and avocados are perfect). Don’t skip breakfast, that’s the worst thing you can do. Snack healthy as well—mixed nuts instead of Doritos, fruit instead of candy bars, etc.
Drink plenty of water. I just saw a post from a 34y/o fapstronaut who has kidney stones! That should be impossible unless you’re drinking soda and beer all day and zero water. You need to drink half your weight in ounces every day (if you weigh 200 pounds, drink 100 oz of water). Stay hydrated!
Try to absorb mostly positive stimuli. I used to binge watch murder shows on Netflix and read depressing news stories all the time. It’s important to stay informed of the news and vote, but everything in moderation (besides porn). Playing violent video games for more than an hour or two is a bad idea. Watching more than two episodes on Netflix is a bad idea. If your girlfriend wants to binge watch something, just say no and go read or meditate instead.
Nofap is about avoiding the great enemy (porn) and becoming a better person so we can contribute to civil society. It isn’t about simply not fapping, it’s about self improvement. You are not contributing to society by drawing your blinds, locking your door, and pleasuring yourself in front of a computer screen.
Thanks for taking the time and I hope this helps. If even one person finds value in this post, I will be happy.