6 minute read

9 Holiday Triggers for Porn Use (and How to Avoid Them)

Last Updated: November 2, 2020

Abby Willmarth

Abby Willmarth has worked with several anti-trafficking organizations to educate and mobilize churches and individuals to fight trafficking. Over those years, she began to see just how many ways trafficking connected to porn. Now she works at Covenant Eyes to create educational content that helps people find freedom from porn. She lives in Michigan with her husband and two sons.

Quitting porn is no easy thing to do. It requires intentional new habits and rewired thinking. And without some proactive planning, few things have the power to slow down healthy new habits like the holidays.

So if you’re trying to quit porn (or any bad habit, really) and maintain your progress into next year, set yourself up for success and make a plan ahead of time.

  1. Read through the potential triggers in this article
  2. Consider past holidays and any porn triggers during those seasons
  3. Identify any potential porn triggers in your current holiday plans
  4. Amend your plans as needed to maintain recovery
  5. Reach out to an ally or close friend to share your plan

Don’t let one of these common triggers or scenarios trip you up this holiday season and weaken your ability to say no to porn or other temptations. Take ten minutes right now and craft a plan to help you thrive this Christmas season. It’ll be time well spent.

1. Increased Busyness

Celebrating with friends and family is a wonderful way to end the year. And this connection with those close to you is a powerful antidote for porn use. But if we’re not careful, the amount of extra activities has the potential to run ragged even the most social of us. It can:

  • Disrupt new healthy routines that help us stay porn-free
  • Run us ragged, making it easier to turn to porn
  • Lead to fatigue and a crash or relapse after it’s all over

The solution? Choose a pace that protects your recovery. You may have to do things a little differently this year, and that’s okay. You can say no. You can pace yourself. You don’t have to go to everything. You can (and should) maintain time in your calendar for your recovery activities.

Next year you might be at a place in your recovery where you can take on more festivities again, but this year, choose a pace that will sustain your progress and healthy habits.

2. Alcohol

Booze can really get flowing at celebrations and parties, and many people end up drinking a little more than usual around the holidays because of it. This can lead to weakened self-control and encourage us to make choices we wouldn’t otherwise make. For some people, this can be a trigger for porn use.

Solution? Limit your alcohol intake. Maybe that means volunteering as a designated driver or recruiting an ally at the party to help you stay on track. Or bring an alternative drink you really enjoy. Treat yourself to a nice cup of coffee or pop that you don’t normally drink to curb the temptation to drink the available alcohol.

3. Family

Family gatherings can be filled with laughter and sharing fun memories. But those closest to us can also push our buttons in ways few others can. For many, holiday family gatherings are ridden with unresolved conflict, heated conversation, or passive-aggressive moves.

Maybe your family gets along great–that’s amazing! But let’s be honest, being together for an extended period of time can be exhausting no matter how much you love them.

The stress of these family events, or the anticipation of possible stress, can be a trigger for porn use. To navigate this potential trigger well, consider the following:

  • Establish healthy boundaries.
  • Stay away from sensitive topics that historically bring conflict.
  • Take a break from adult conversation. Bundle up and go for a walk. Offer to pick up more supplies from the store. Play with your nieces and nephews.

4. Unhealthy Habits

What’s one of the best parts of the Christmas season? The Christmas foods. And it’s everywhere–home, work, parties–and almost always loaded with delicious sugar.

What we put in our body, as well as the amount of sleep and exercise we get, can seriously affect our ability to make good choices. A lack of exercise and proper nutrients can increase our stress levels, and for many, stress is a trigger for porn.

Or for some, the choice to eat too much sugar or not get enough sleep can start a train reaction of reversing your other healthy habits like porn-free living.

I’m not saying don’t eat any Christmas cookies this year. Just don’t completely throw out your healthy living habits that support your decision to quit porn.

  • Get at least eight hours of sleep each night.
  • Limit your sugar intake.
  • Drink the recommended daily amount of water.
  • Incorporate healthy foods into your holiday diet.
  • Exercise 3-4 times a week.
  • Take time to journal and process your emotions.

5. Traveling

Are your Christmas and holiday plans taking you out of town? For many people, the easy access to porn in hotel rooms, isolation, or new environments can be a trigger for porn use.

If this is you, plan ahead!

  • Stay with people who care about you if possible.
  • Set up accountability and check in with a friend or your ally each night.
  • Make sure Covenant Eyes is installed and working on your devices.
  • Choose a hotel that doesn’t have adult films on their TVs.

6. Grief

Maybe you’re grieving the loss of a loved one. Or maybe you’re grieving the life or family you thought you would have. Or there’s just some situation that makes the holidays difficult and highlights something you’re missing.

This grief, if left alone, may be a trigger for porn use as a way to escape your painful feelings.

  • Acknowledge your emotions.
  • Talk with someone who cares (possibly a close friend or a counselor).
  • Find special ways to remember cherished moments.
  • Express your grief in healthy outlets.

Related: When Holidays Aren’t Happy–4 Ways to Deal With Grief and Porn Addiction

7. Loneliness

For many people, holidays can amplify a feeling of loneliness. Maybe you thought you’d be bringing a significant other to your holiday parties by now, or your family lives far away and you can’t make it home to celebrate with them. Or maybe family and friends at your parties spend more time engrossed on their devices than actually connecting.

Research shows that loneliness can be a key driver of addiction. Positive associations have also been found between loneliness and porn use.

If you’ve historically felt lonely around the holidays, be proactive this year.

  • Host a party and invite friends or family.
  • Ask a family friend if you can join for the holidays.
  • Initiate meaningful conversations that move beyond surface-level topics.
  • Be a thoughtful neighbor. Knock on someone’s door and drop off cookies. Wish them a merry Christmas in person.

8. Financial Stress

Many people find themselves financially challenged during the holidays. Buying gifts. Increased spending on food. Traveling expenses. If you’re not careful, it’s easy to blow the budget and give in to the pressure of spending more than you should or can.

The stress of not being able to do all that you want to around the holidays, or the stress that can come if you’ve overspent, can cause some to run to porn.

Budgeting is a great way to track your daily expenses during the busy holiday season. Before you start spending (or if you already have!), set a spending goal. Figure out what you plan to spend money on and use a budgeting application or even a paper and pencil to track your spending. Remember, Christmas isn’t about expensive gifts. A thoughtful letter or handcrafted gift can be the most meaningful.

9. New Devices

Maybe you’re getting a new device for Christmas, or maybe you’re getting something for a family member. New devices, if not protected with accountability and filtering software, can be a new open door for porn.

If you’re buying the gifts, make sure to install Covenant Eyes on all the new devices before you gift them. Or if you think a new device might make its way into your stocking, ask the gift giver to download Covenant Eyes for you ahead of time.

Time to Make Your Porn-Free Holiday Plan

As you read through the triggers above, what ones stood out to you? Were there any others that came to mind? How can you set yourself up for success ahead of time?

Remember: the holidays don’t have to look the same as they have in the past. In fact, if you’ve historically struggled with porn during them, they shouldn’t look the same.

Your recovery is important, and your family and friends will hopefully appreciate your long-term health and freedom more than they would you running yourself ragged to maintain unhealthy traditions.

Related: 5 Quick Tips for Staying Sexually Sober This Holiday Season

Sticking to Your Plan

For those of you who have an ally in your porn recovery, talk with them about your plans for the holidays. Touch base with them more frequently during the holiday season for encouragement to stay on track.

Set up strategic reminders to yourself about the healthy habits you’re going to stick with during the holiday season and your reasons for doing so.

You can do this! You can choose a different path than what you’ve chosen before. We’re rooting you on, and so many others are walking this same path with you.

We’d love to hear from you. What’s tripped you up during past holiday seasons? How are you going to set yourself up for success this year?

  • Comments on: 9 Holiday Triggers for Porn Use (and How to Avoid Them)
    1. pbn on

      important reflections

      Reply
    2. Dick Grout on

      Thanks for all the helpful reminders. My greatest temptation is the smart TVs in our house. There is direct access to an unfiltered internet, ability to delete all past viewing history, and no ability to install Covenant Eyes on the devices. That is the “lion” that roams around my house, and I have to keep up my vigilance, my will power and my prayer life in order to avoid it. It’s just too easy and way too tempting. If you come up with an answer for me, I would love to hear it. Thanks again – Merry Christmas!

      Reply
      • Kay Bruner on

        Get rid of the smart TVs.

      • NA on

        I realized this loop hole from the beginning so I asked my wife to block the internet browser app for good with a password code. On top, she is the only one who has access to downloading/deleting applications in my smart phone and smart TV. This killed all temptations.

      • keith fuller on

        I really feel that claiming the promise of ! cor 6;12,13…..we present our bodies…..members of Christ..to Him,and He promises to be(even) for our BODIES…(the natural cravings in the hormones,electric sperm buildup.,.everything!!!)this with Romans 8….he gives LIFE to our mortal bodies…is how we walk daily..he is supplying the Spirit to us ..daily! (1 Cor.,Galatians)

      • Duane on

        My wife bought a smart TV a couple months ago and I had the same problem. I bought a small lock box with a combination. It is the kind that real estate agents sometimes use to keep the key of a house and anyone knowing the combination can get into the house. I cut a slot in the box so that I can put the TV plug in the box and let the rest of the cord extend out of the box. The plug is locked inside the box. My wife is the only one who knows the combination. I can’t watch the TV unless she is around. Obviously this won’t work if you live alone.

    3. John T Smith IV on

      Dare to ask God in prayer to reveal the legitimate need and ask for Him to meet that need or expose the illegitimate need ( the temptation ) for what it really is: demonic.

      Then let us run away from it!

      Reply
    4. Leeann on

      How does a smart tv access porn

      Reply
      • Moriah Bowman on

        Hi Leeann,

        In order to avoid providing a source of temptation for others reading this comment, I am going to refrain from answering this question. However, if you have questions about SmartTVs and boundaries/parental controls, I’d encourage you to check out this support article.

        Blessings,
        Moriah

    5. Your struggling brother on

      The thread about smart TV access should be removed from this site…… now that (my other brain) knows it can access porn unfiltered and untracked….. I will be tempted to try…
      Why would you allow this comment to be on this site?
      If you do not have a cure to block or track access then remove the unanswered question, so others are not tempted.
      I know I am not the only one thinking this. And many have already tried the smart TV route because they read it here.

      Reply
      • Moriah Bowman on

        Hi friend,

        Please know that it was not our intent to encourage temptation through any of these comments regarding SmartTVs. Unfortunately, the reality is that so much of technology offers a gateway to porn, especially with how easy it is to access the internet in today’s day and age.

        We do offer quite a few suggestions for managing SmartTV access, so I would encourage you to follow these guidelines if you have a SmartTV in your home. My other suggestion, as extreme as it may sound, would be to remove the SmartTV from your home completely and use different technology for watching movies/television.

        Blessings,
        Moriah

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