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Healthy Emotional Self-Regulation

One of the most important aspects of recovery from sex addiction involves learning how to emotionally self-regulate. Healthy emotional self-regulation basically involves being able to manage emotional states, both positive and negative, in a way that promotes well-being. There are a number of habits sex addicts can practice to improve their ability to emotionally self-regulate.

Exercise
Regular exercise can help sex addicts replace old, destructive neural pathways with new constructive neural pathways that offer plenty of 'feel good' benefits. Exercise releases neurotransmitters such as endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine that create the foundation for better moods. Endorphins get their name from 'endogenous morphine'. Serotonin helps regulate your mood, sleep patterns, and sexual appetite. And dopamine plays a role in movement, emotional response, and ability to experience pleasure and pain. Need we say more?

Sleep
Our culture is becoming increasingly sleep-deprived. With the proliferation of energy drink and other drugs to keep us awake, sleep has been relegated to an afterthought.  But sleep is not something to be shortchanged. Its' benefits include improvements in concentration, short-term memory, productivity, mood, sensitivity to pain and immune function. These are benefits that form the basis of a happy and productive day.

Talking to Others
Sharing one's emotional life is a way of managing uncomfortable feelings to the point of tolerability. If a sex addict can tolerate an uncomfortable feeling he or she does not have to act it out. Sex addicts have difficulty recognizing what they are feeling, though, much less expressing that feeling to another. When sex addicts can learn to identify and express their feelings to another person, the power those feelings wield is diminished. As the saying goes: pain shared is pain lessened.

Journaling
The emotional life of a sex addict abstaining from certain sexual behaviors, especially in the beginning, can be chaotic For a sex addict, though, being able to give healthy, free expression to all of these emotions is essential. In normal conversation, this is not possible. The beauty of journaling is that it allows people say whatever they want, however they want. In the process sex addicts learn to ventilate and organize an emotional life that may seem at times to have run amok.

Meditation
Over-thinking, preoccupation, obsession—these are all states of mind that can plague sex addicts. Meditation is a way to interrupt that compulsive thought process and tune in to the feeling state underneath. It doesn't require religious affiliation, either. All it requires is a comfortable place to sit and be quiet. One of the simplest ways to meditate is to simply count one's breath up to four and repeat. It's simply impossible to focus on breathing and to think at the same time.

Sex addicts typically struggle with regulating their emotional states. Pain is experienced broadly without attention to that specific feeling behind that pain. Instead of feeling their feelings, sex addicts act out their feelings. Healthy emotional self-regulation involves practicing constructive ways to manage emotional states without causing damage to oneself or others.

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