/ By Brandon McDonald

One of the best things you can do for you recovery from pornography addiction is to establish a healthy morning routine. Overcoming porn addiction is not easy, as I’m sure you are aware. You’ve probably tried a thousand times to quit, and if you’re reading this, chances are you haven’t found much success.

One reason why is because as addicts, we get stuck in old patterns and habits that are hard to break. Breaking a porn addiction takes a total overhaul of your daily routines and habits, so it’s important to find a daily system that works for you and one that you can stick to for the long haul. Some people enjoy different activities, so the suggestions I give below are just that – suggestions. I encourage you to find activities that you enjoy doing (or at least ones that you think you’ll enjoy doing if you stick to them for long enough), because if you don’t get any reward from doing something, you’ll never stick to it long enough.

Go To Bed On Time

None of this is going to help at all if you can’t get to bed at a decent time. I’m a big proponent of getting sufficient sleep. Science has proven time and time again that getting a minimum of 7-8 hours of sleep per night is crucial for all kinds of reasons. People who get enough sleep function better, live longer, eat healthier, regulate their emotions more effectively, and are at lower risk for all kinds of diseases. 

I’ve had so many clients try to convince me that they can function fine on less than 6 hours of sleep per night. That’s when I ask them to take a good hard look at how they are doing in life. There are many reasons why they are struggling with sex addiction and one of them is that they don’t have balance in their life. Getting enough sleep is crucial to living a balanced life.

These aren’t just hollow words I’m writing here. I can’t stress enough how important it is to your recovery to get a full night’s sleep. I’ve experienced it first hand. When my life is not going the way I want it to and I find myself struggling to keep up with my recovery, the first thing I look at is whether I’m getting enough sleep. Because if I don’t get to bed at a decent time, then I don’t get up on time either, which means I usually don’t get a full morning routine in. It’s a domino effect.

Figure out what time you need to wake up to get in a full morning routine and then subtract 8 hours. That’s the time you get to go to bed every night. It’s pretty simple, but I admit it’s difficult for people like me who spent years developing a habit of staying up late binging Netflix.

Why is a Morning Routine Important for Porn Addiction Recovery?

I mentioned above that getting enough sleep is crucial to maintaining a balanced life. A good morning routine is just important in my opinion.

If you wake up in the morning and your morning routine is pure chaos, what can you expect from the rest of your day? Pure chaos. One of the mantras we repeat constantly at Desert Solace is, “The way you do one thing is the way you do everything.” Your morning routine is key to living an intentional, addiction-free day.

When I first started my recovery in Desert Solace’s 90-day inpatient program I realized that there were a few activities that were hugely beneficial to my recovery and I wanted to do them on a daily basis (I’ll go into the details below). Our days at Desert Solace are pretty packed with different therapeutic activities so I didn’t have a lot of time during the day to fit in the other things I wanted to do.

The only times I could do these things were at night before going to bed, or in the morning right after waking up. By the end of the day I was always mentally and emotionally exhausted so the only thing I felt I could muster up the energy to do was write in my journal. That left the morning to fit in the rest of the stuff I wanted to do.

I intentionally chose activities to fit into my morning routine that would give me balance during the day. Activities that would help me progress mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically.

Now, I have to give you a disclaimer here: jumping into a full hour-long morning routine right away can be overwhelming. To the point where you might decide to give up on it after a few days

When I started doing my morning routine, I chose to follow the “Make it Easy” rule of habit creation. I started off with just one activity that I added to my morning routine every morning. After I felt comfortable with doing that activity for a week or two, I added another activity. I kept adding activities until I had a full hour of activities that I was doing every morning. So my recommendation is to go easy on yourself at first so you don’t get burned out too quickly. Developing a full morning routine takes some time.

There are so many different activities you can include in your morning routine that will bring some balance into your life and help you maintain long-term recovery from addiction, but I wanted to give you an idea of the things that I do every morning so that you might find some inspiration to help you plan your own morning. If you try something I suggest below and it doesn’t work for you, that’s fine! Try something different that you might like better.

Without wasting any more time, I’ve come up with 7 components that are important to me that I’ve based my morning routine on. Hope this helps!

1. Wake Up Intentionally

There are some people out there who believe that there’s some magical time to wake up that will make you a happier, more successful person. It seems like 5 am is a wake-up time that many self-help gurus like to sell people on. I don’t know what makes 5 am any better than 5:30 am or 6 am, or any other time in the morning but I’m sure Hal Elrod could explain that to you.

My opinion is that the perfect wake-up time for me might not be the perfect wake-up time for Hal Elrod or anyone else. Depending on your individual circumstances, you might need to wake up before 5 am or way after 5 am. What’s important is that you wake up with enough time to get all of your morning routine done before you have to get your butt out the door.

Most days I get to take my daughter to school in the morning so we leave by 7:30 am to get her there in time. That means that on those days I get to be awake by 6:30 am in order to get my full routine in.

People who struggle to get their day started are the ones who lay in bed for a while before getting up and then they find that they don’t have enough time to do a full routine. Make a commitment to yourself that you will get up at the time you set your clock so you can give yourself the gift of a full morning routine. You will feel way better about yourself if you do.

2. Get Connected and Grounded

Porn and sex addictions destroy your connection to yourself and to others. It is an isolating condition. When I wake up every morning, my mind is usually running a million miles per hour and I feel very disconnected. 

In my old life, I used to just get up and go without taking any time to center myself and reconnect. Now, I try to be very aware of my connection to myself, my Higher Power, and my loved ones. So when I wake up in the morning and I feel like my mind is taking over I know it’s time for me to reassert my connection to myself and get grounded.

There are a few activities that help me do this. The first thing I do in the morning is yoga. Yoga has several benefits for me, but the most important one is that it centers me. Yoga helps me bring my focus and attention back to the present moment. It calms me and brings me back to awareness.

Another activity I like to include every morning is some type of spiritual reading. Just find whatever type of reading works for you to connect to yourself and to your Higher Power.

I also believe that prayer can be a powerful way to connect to yourself and to your Higher Power. It’s one of the parts of my morning routine that I never skip. Some people also choose to meditate in the morning to center themselves. I do a daily meditation in the afternoon instead because it works better for me.

3. Sharpen Your Mind

There are tons of different ways you can get your mind focused for the day. I choose to do a quick reading that shifts my mentality so that I’m ready to take on the day in the right frame of mind. For me, I find reading short thoughts or written meditations incredibly helpful. You can find hundreds of daily meditation books out there. Other guys enjoy doing a reading out of the different 12-step books available like the Big Book from Alcoholics Anonymous or the White Book from SA.

I’ve learned that Stoic philosophy is very similar to recovery philosophy and it’s one of my favorite topics to read. There’s a book of daily Stoic meditations called The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living that I really enjoy reading every morning.

This honestly only takes me 5-10 minutes each morning so it’s not difficult or time-consuming but it does help me get my mind in the right place to take on my day with a recovery mindset.

4. Check-in Emotionally

You might not realize this but emotional regulation is a huge part of recovery from addiction to porn and sex. 

Many addicts have a hard time understanding what they are feeling, or they are so disconnected from themselves that they don’t feel anything. Addictive behaviors are often used to numb out from feelings that they don’t want to feel. People who have been in heavy addiction for long periods of time have either forgotten how to recognize what they are feeling emotionally, or they never learned how to recognize their emotions in the first place.

Knowing how to cope with emotions is very important for a recovering addict, but the addict also needs to know what he’s feeling in order to properly process it.

The better someone is at dealing with their emotions, the less they feel the need to go to their addiction to escape from them.

So how do I check-in emotionally? I usually have a conversation each morning with my wife, or with another friend in recovery. We use a prompt at Desert Solace that I still use today:

How are you feeling – 






How is your connection to Self/Others/Higher Power?

Once I’ve taken a moment to figure out what I’m feeling, I then express that to someone else. In the beginning it was difficult to figure out what emotion I was feeling in each of these categories. I knew how I was feeling, I just couldn’t seem to put a name to it. So I used an Emotion Color Wheel (similar to this one) to search for the closest thing to what I was feeling. After a few months of using the wheel, I became much better at naming my emotions.

The result of all this emotional processing produced some powerful results in my recovery where I found myself not needing to use things like porn/sex, food, or sleep to try to numb out from my emotions.

Exercise for porn addiction recovery

5. Get Your Muscles Moving

In this day and age I shouldn’t have to go into all the benefits that physical exercise brings, so I won’t. You already know that exercise is important to living a healthy life. And the benefits that come from consistent exercise will help not just with your physical health, but it will help you stay in lasting recovery as well.

You might not see a connection between physical exercise and recovery from porn addiction but believe me, it’s there. Anything you can do to lead a healthier, more balanced life is going to show up for you in your ability to sustain long-lasting recovery.

So what type of exercise should you do? Whatever exercise you enjoy doing. If you don’t enjoy doing it, then chances are you won’t continue doing it for a long period of time.

“But what if I don’t like doing any exercises?” I’m sure  this is something that quite a few people reading this might be asking right now. And I totally understand. For the longest time I thought exercise was difficult and boring. But I was able to find a few exercises that I could at least tolerate and I paired it with something I enjoyed doing: listening to audiobooks. After a while of sticking to it, I actually started to enjoy the workout itself and now when I miss a day of exercise it bothers me.

I mentioned above that I love doing yoga in the morning. That’s one of those things that I grew to appreciate with time the more I did it but I also like yoga because it brings other benefits than just physical movement. For the past couple of years I’ve started going to the gym for an hour a day, but it didn’t start that way. In the beginning I just incorporated some push-ups and sit-ups into my morning routine every day. That was just enough to get my muscles going for the day.

Whatever it is that works for you, find something that you can incorporate into your daily routines, like a walk in the park or a pickleball game with a friend and start doing it. I promise it will pay dividends for you in your recovery.

6. Eat Something Healthy

I believe that everything you consume has a certain energetic level to it. Some things have a lower level of energy and others have a much higher level. I’m not just talking about physical energy, I’m talking about mental and emotional energy as well.

This goes as much for the food we consume as the media and entertainment we consume. The movies we watch and the music we listen to all have an energy. After watching a movie I can feel the energy level that it brought me. Music does the same thing for me. Social media might be the worst. I’ve never spent a long period of time on social media and felt like it lifted me up energetically.

I also believe that we can only put out the same level of energy as the level of energy of what we consume. If I’m always listening to garbage music, watching garbage movies or TV, and spending loads of time on social media, then the energy I can put out is going to be at a garbage level.

Food is also one of those things that can raise or lower my level of energy depending on what I’m eating. When I eat a ton of lower energy foods like sugar or other foods with low nutritional value, then the energy I put out is going to be low. Eating healthy foods is so important to maintaining a higher level of physical, emotional and mental energy.

Again, start out easy and maybe find one thing in your diet that you want to let go of and think of something healthy you can replace it with. I cut caffeine out of my diet last year and started drinking a lot more water during my day and it has made a huge difference in my health and my sleep.

7. Plan Your Day

The best way to live an intentional life is to have a plan and stick to it. If you live your day without a plan, then life just happens to you and your only option is to react. Be proactive and plan out your day so you can fit in all the most important things you want to do. Make your recovery and personal growth a priority.

It might take some extra time than just doing a normal schedule for my day, but I love using a High Performance Habits Day Planner

The Final Word

Hopefully by now you have an idea of why a morning routine is so important to overcoming a porn addiction and some ideas of beneficial activities that you can add to your own morning routine if you choose to start one for yourself.

My morning routine has been so important to my recovery that I don’t think I’d still be in recovery today without it. Make a commitment to yourself today to start one for yourself. Start simple and go easy. And promise yourself one thing: that if you miss one morning, you won’t miss twice in a row.

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