Sex Addiction and Work
Sex Addiction And Work That Is Stressful: For many people struggling with a sex addiction, the stress they face at work or school is an important trigger that either starts or perpetuates their addictive cycle. It is not uncommon that many people who are battling a sex addiction are also considered to be workaholics. They will often times choose a high-pressure job or risk vs. reward oriented career. The cycles of these careers, which included extreme highs and lows, build up of tension and stress, and a final release phase, mimic the sex addictive cycle.
For some, sex addiction takes the form of intrusive thoughts that the person can not escape. The person will start thinking about sex, their next prospect for sexual activity, planning how they can obtain time to act out, developing the scenario of their acting out, and so on. Once these thoughts or fantasies become too much to handle and the person can no longer think of anything else, he or she will begin to act out sexually. Simply put, the thoughts become the driving force of the acting out cycle where by thinking and fantasizing about sex the person is acting out. Others experience compulsive behavior where they feel as though they act out regardless of what their mind is saying. Their mind yells “NO! Don’t do that,” but they act out anyway. These people typically fall into a battle of shame and guilt after they act out because they kept trying to think about not acting out. When the shame and guilt sinks in, they may feel impulses to act out again just to regain some sense of happiness, even though sexual activity no longer brings the same feelings of pleasure as it once did.
Dealing with stress at work can be very similar. Most of us know at least one person who “takes their work home” and cannot stop worrying about it. These types of people cannot stop obsessing over work even when they are home for the evening or away on vacation. The stress from work will invade their personal life and they find they cannot break the cycle until they experience a complete meltdown. Others simply go through their day “full steam ahead” never thinking about the tasks they are working on. They will take on project after project and leave many of the half finished because they just kept moving on. These people find it hard to commit to just one task, or even one career and constantly change positions because they become restless and feel unaccomplished at work.
People who are dealing with sex addiction at work and are in a stressful environment are at even greater risk for acting out. This is so because the obsessive nature of sex addiction will be transferred to work. It’s not what you worry about that causes the issues, its the obsessive nature of worrying. As this stress builds up, he or she will begin to look for ways in which to release it. People with sexual addictions will look for sexual activity to become a release of their tension. However, for someone addicted to sex, using sexual activity as stress release is not a healthy way to deal with their stress because the person in an addictive cycle does not experience sex for what it truly is. They manipulate or objectify sex into their need for stress relief. Thus, the focus during the sexual activity is not on the act or sensations in and of themselves, rather the person is focused on the stress and its release. The obsession is continuing because the person is still thinking about stress. The outlet, which is sex, has no direct relation to the stressors, i.e. work. These stressors will continue to impact the person’s life more strongly the next time they come up.
Using sex as a release for stress at work allows the person addicted to sex to “justify” the acting out behavior. This happens when they start rationalizing that they needed the release and they feel much better now. The person will begin to say to them self “I deserve to act out and reward myself for all my hard work.” Or the rationalization may take the form of “I’m so stressed out at work that I just can not control my behavior once I leave.” Nevertheless, this “rationalization” is not in fact correct. Afterwards, many people addicted to sex do not feel better. They feel worse. Deep down inside, they know, but don’t want to admit, that they are using sex for the wrong reasons. This realization brings about intense feelings of shame and guilt. People addicted to sex may become depressed, which may increase their acting out because they are looking for any kind of pleasurable experience they can find. Consequently, they begin the cycle of obsession and stress once again by repressing these feelings of shame and guilt and throwing themselves into work or acting out uncontrollably. The person now has too many things to worry about. They will be obsessing over their work, the stress associated with it, the desire to act out and relieve the tension, how and when they can act out again, the shame they feel for acting out, and the manner in which they will cover up their actions. The stress will continue to build and build until the addict will have no other option but to be “forced” to act out sexually because that is the only coping mechanism they know.
Fighting the cycle of obsessive worry and stress requires learning new coping mechanisms and a lot of patience. There is no quick fix; however, the use of healthier coping mechanisms will start a new cycle and you will begin to feel relief from stress rather than needing to rely on sex to relieve tension from work. The first thing you can do to relieve some stress from work is to acknowledge the intrusive thoughts. Recognize that something about work is bothering you. Accept the thoughts but do not react to them emotionally. Instead of freaking out from the thought or having the opposite reaction and immediately trying to squash them, re-address them with a different tone. Take the “Oh man I bet my e-mail to my boss didn’t go through” worry, change it around, and say to yourself “I am worried that she got my e-mail but I am not at the office right now and I will follow up on Monday. “ This way you are acknowledging the worry in a justified and productive way. You recognized the emotion attached to the thought, but did not allow yourself to succumb to it. Then remind yourself that you acknowledged the worry and that you have a plan of action and go back to your evening.
Another coping skill you can use while at work is a stress ball. Stress balls are squishy, made out of rubber and you squeeze and release them any time you are feeling stressed. Some even make a funny face when you squeeze them. The idea behind a stress ball is that the repetitive motion of squeezing and releasing it will allow you to essentially squeeze and then release the tension in your body. Squeezing the stress ball makes your arm and hand work thus causing tension. Releasing the pressure on the ball releases the tension you were holding in you hand, arm, and body. The best part about stress balls is that they are portable and you can use them at home or work.
Deep breathing is another coping mechanism that can be used almost anywhere! To do deep breathing relaxation, you simply breathe. Instead of using your normal, hurried pace of breath, you slow the entire process down. Deep breathing requires you to take a fell breath from your diaphragm; some people call this a belly breath. This is how babies breathe, when you can see their bellies move up and down. To begin, close your eyes and picture a soothing or calm scene. Feel the relaxing energy that come from the scene and inhale deeply allowing your belly to expand with the air flow. Focus on what that breath feels like. Clear your mind of everything expect the process and sensations of breathing. When you feel comfortable, exhale slowly, this time focusing on what the breath feels like when it is traveling out of your body. Repeat this exercise 15 times. When your mind is calm focused on your breathing, begin your original task again.
Exercise is also a great stress buster. Exercise has positive benefits for our bodies and our minds. When we exercise our energy levels go up and we can be more productive during the day. Exercise is also a way to release stress, because it works the muscles in which we hold our tension. Plus it helps keep us fit. There is also some research to show that exercising releases chemicals known as endorphins in your brain that bring about sensations of happiness and pleasure. Increasing these happy feelings will naturally decrease the feelings of stress, worry, and sadness. When stress from work is bringing you down, and you’re already pushing yourself to the max, it’s hard to find time and energy to hit the gym. Nevertheless, these are the times when it is important to get some exercise in order to reap the mind and body benefits we just talked about. Try to squeeze in at least 30 minutes of some form of activity every day. It can be taking a stroll around the park on your lunch break, a pilates or cardio class at the gym, gardening, vacuuming, taking the stairs, or dancing to the radio. Anything that gets you up off the couch and moving will be a beneficial form of exercise.
Another portable stress management technique is using positive self talk or mantras . A mantra or positive self talk is a short phrase that you can use to change your thinking quick. If you are starting to worry about a project from work, simply say to yourself “I did my best.” Or you can have a mantra that you use every day regardless of the situation like the word “relax.” You maybe choose to make a rhyme from your mantra or to stick it on a post-it note on your desk. You can repeat your mantra while using you stress ball, during exercise, or when you try deep breathing. Whatever you choose to do with your mantra, make sure to keep it positive and short — you don’t want to cause yourself more worries with a negative mantra no do you want to get bogged down by tricky words in a long one.
If you have intrusive thoughts about sex, stress, or work, trying to force yourself not to think about them will only make it worse. Dealing with stress in a healthy and active manner will give you a better chance of refraining from using sex as stress relief.
This tip sex addiction and work was developed specifically for Sex Therapy in Philadelphia / Center for Growth
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