Self-soothing is the ability to calm yourself after you experience something stressful – it is essentially any act that distracts you from a current stressful situation or one from the past. However, it is important to learn effective coping and self-soothing strategies.
Using casual sex to self-sooth does not heal you – it only temporarily masks what you are feeling. Casual sex is an act of instant gratification that usually just leaves you wanting more.
Using Sex to Self-Soothe: The Use of Casual Sex to Manage Emotions
Compulsive and casual sex can have a tremendous negative impact on your life. More often than not, these behaviors are caused by unresolved trauma and/or attachment wounds. The result is an intimacy disorder which causes an inability to have truly intimate and healthy relationships.
Do you know if your relationship is intimacy or intensity?
When sex is used as coping mechanism to deal with feelings of loneliness, sadness, or powerlessness, the impacts can be devastating. A sex addiction can lead to health risks, legal issues, relationship damage, and substance use.
Self-Soothe: The Importance of Healthy Habits
Finding ways to self-soothe in a positive manner is no small feat, especially when you are trying to break years of destructive patterns. It’s important to remember that it will take time and effort to adopt healthy self-soothing habits. It is equally important to find what works for you – not every coping mechanism will work for everyone. In fact, you might find yourself trying dozens of different mechanisms over the course of your life. As we change and grow, sometimes we also grow out of the habits that previously worked.
One way that you can soothe yourself is by making therapeutic lifestyle changes in your life. These changes will help you through a stressful experience when it occurs – whether it’s recalling a previous memory or experiencing a new stressful situation.
Adopt a Calming Word or Phrase
Having a word or a phrase that helps center your when dealing with stress is key to learning how to better manage your emotions. You can decide on a phrase or word by taking note of phrases that make you feel at ease when you are reading, listening to a podcast, talking to your therapist, or it can even be something you make up yourself.
If you add 30 minutes of exercise to your daily routine you can improve how you feel both physically and mentally. Oftentimes, we choose to engage in casual sex because it releases endorphins and it makes us feel good. Did you know that exercise can also release the same endorphins? Exercise is also a more healthy way to cope versus engaging in risky sex behaviors.
Nutrition and Diet
Your eating habits can have an affect on your overall mood and plays an important role in how your body responds to everyday stresses. If you increase your healthy food intake, you will start to respond to everyday stresses in a new way. Nutrition is important for recovery in a lot of ways. At Integrative Life Center we like to incorporate nutrition and diet with our clients.
Stress management is a broad term that employs techniques and psychotherapies that can help you manage and control your stress levels. When you are stressed, you should refer to the Four A’s of Stress Management:
- Avoid: For example, if rush hour traffic raises your blood pressure you can avoid that stressor by taking a different route or leaving for work earlier. The same tactic can be applied to people and unwanted requests – sit further away from the coworker that drives you crazy in a meeting and learn to say no to requests that you truly don’t have interest or time for.
- Alter: We can’t always avoid people, places, or things. Instead, you may need to alter situations by asking someone to change their behavior, increase your efficiency by working on your time management skills, openly communicate your feelings by using “I feel” statements, or state time limits.
- Accept: We don’t always have the ability to avoid or alter situations. In those moments, it might be best to try to learn to accept and practice positive self-talk, forgive, and find someone to talk to about what is bothering you.
- Adapt: Redefine what success means to you. Instead of making dinner from scratch six nights a week, would it be unbearable to make a frozen lasagna instead? Some other techniques to help you adapt would be thought-stopping, looking at the bigger picture, and reframing any issues that you are having.
Time in Nature
At times nothing is better than a fresh breath of air. Smelling the fresh air can be just the self-soother you are needing. Spending time in nature can help you reduce stress in your life. The next time you feel overworked, go spend time in the sun. A little bit of vitamin D from the sun can go a long way for you.
While many people need time to themselves when they are feeling particularly stressed or emotional, it is not a long-term coping mechanism. Ensuring that you are taking time to nurture the relationships in your life is important. Plan ahead to go on a date night with your spouse or partner or make plans with your best friends.
Service to Others
Helping others can have a positive affect on your life. An act of kindness can make you feel good about yourself. You never know what kind of day a person is having and by helping them you could be doing them a great service. You may feel joy from helping others which in turn can help you overcome stress.
It can be beneficial for you to engage in spiritual or religious practices that are closely related to your values and beliefs. By doing this it allows you to connect with something greater than yourself and helps you to stay centered and grounded. If you never thought about your values or beliefs, now is a good time to do it. This can be a self-soothing technique that could help you through a stressful time in your life.
How Therapy Can Help
Learning how to avoid using sex to self-soothe is not as easy as deciding to just simply do something else instead. You must first learn to address the feelings and, possibly, the trauma that has led you to use sex as a way to avoid your feelings.
If you feel that your sexual behaviors are impeding on your ability to live your life, consider reaching out to our team at Begin Again Institute for the 14-Day Men’s Intensive.