The following post contains excerpts from Week 7 of Fortify. To learn more about how physical health can impact your recovery, check out Fortify.
When you think of ways to help in your fight against pornography, how often do sleep, food and exercise come up?
You might be surprised at how often research connects compulsive patterns to these basic lifestyle factors—especially what we call the Big Three— sleep, food and exercise. Each of these makes a huge difference in the quality of our mood and our overall mental and emotional well-being — including depression and anxiety, or how well we can focus our attention at any given moment.
But you don’t need any scientist to tell you that. Think of the last time you binged on sweets or spent the whole day sitting around inside. When we’re paying closer attention, something that seems pleasant in the moment can actually really tank our mood over time. And when we don’t feel well, it’s all too easy to scramble for some way—any way—to feel better. Let’s take a closer look at each of the Big Three, and how they can help you on your journey to freedom.
Get Some Sleep
Research studies consistently find that both teenagers and adults are seriously deprived of sleep. For most of us, we’re simply not getting what we need.
Sufficient sleep is especially crucial for anyone wanting to find freedom from addiction. Not only does the brain recharge and repair during sleep, there are rippling effects that impact the whole body. Going without sleep has been connected to lower immune function, serious disease and weight gain – as well as impaired ability to reason and think clearly.
When you’re tired you’re just not yourself; your brain’s not running at full capacity.
Bottom line: a tired body and cloudy mind will leave you vulnerable and less prepared to fight.
Make healthy amounts of sleep a top priority. If anything is getting in the way of getting enough sleep, take it very seriously, because if it’s interfering with your sleep, it’s probably messing with your freedom, too.
Get The Right Fuel
In addition to sleep, another way to recharge your body is to check out what kind of fuel you’re giving it.
How far would you get in your car if you put maple syrup or Coca-Cola in the gas tank? It sounds dumb, but let’s be honest: we’re sometimes just as dumb with our own body by taking in stuff the body hardly recognizes as nourishment. And then we act surprised when the body doesn’t run so well…
Want to build strength in this battle? Take a look at the food you’re taking in.
Rather than only listening to others tell you what to eat, why not listen to your own body – try paying closer attention to what your body needs and wants.
Alright, one more example. While recharging your body through rest and good fuel is important, if you really want to supercharge it, then try something really radical: move around more!
Although there is a lot of discussion about physical activity these days, we still do a ton of sitting around.
You might be asking what the problem is with sitting so much. So let’s look at the facts: without enough movement and activity, we are starving our brain in another way and setting us up for the same old patterns.
What about the reverse? What if we bumped up our activity level? In the late 1990s, Dr. Van Praag and his colleagues at the Laboratory of Genetics at the Salk Institute in San Diego, California, showed that exercise increases neurogenesis (or the birth of new brain cells).
When you exercise, a flood of oxygen heads to your brain and a number of other processes are triggered that help your brain grow. So by exercising, we’re actually rewiring the brain in a healthy way and giving our brain an extra boost to function at peak performance.
Studies are showing that poor health can cause us to be more susceptible to impulsive decisions. When we are tired, hungry, or in bed all day, it can be much harder to resist those cravings when they come. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. Even simple adjustments in the Big Three – sleep, diet and exercise – can super-charge your path to freedom in surprising ways.
There are countless ways to strengthen your defenses and Fortify yourself. By recharging your body with the sleep, fuel, and energy it needs, you can give yourself an even better shot at kicking porn to the curb, for good. We may not be running this marathon with you, but we are cheering for you the whole way.