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Porn Affecting Your
Mental Health Or Body Image?
Kia ora – thanks for checking this out.
We all want great mental health. Our recent survey showed that many young people in Aotearoa think porn can impact mental health. Comparing your body to porn actors can also be brutal for a healthy body image – because, let’s be honest, none of us look like porn stars 😉. If you think porn might be impacting you, you’re not alone and here’s some tools to help out…

TIPS & TOOLSseeing-porn-glasses

Mental Health

Porn can affect our mental health in lots of different ways, so here’s some simple tips that can help…

Step ONE: Self check – What’s on my mind?

Lots of stuff can impact how we feel. Take a minute and think about what’s worrying you. Is it…
☐ The amount of porn I watch
☐ I just can’t stop watching
☐ My porn use is a secret
☐ The types of porn I’m watching
☐ The way it makes me feel about my own body and performance
☐ How it affects my relationships or sex life
☐ How I’m imagining people sexually now
☐ I don’t know, but I just feel bad about it

Step TWO: Self check – HOW do I feel?

Once you’ve figured out what’s on your mind, it can help to figure out how those situations make you feel.

Do they make you feel…
☐ Ashamed?
☐ Scared?
☐ Out of control?
☐ Embarrassed?
☐ Afraid?
☐ Lonely?

Step THREE – WHERE to next?

Waking up with crappy feelings on the daily can be tough.

So here are some tips to help…

Dealing with the feelings

It’d be sweet if you could magically make your feelings disappear. But, they usually don’t go away unless you deal with them. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, try the feeling uncomfortable tab.

Or try this mindfulness exercise that can help you chill and get into the present: Start with naming 5 things you can see… move to 4 things you can hear.. 3 things you can feel.. 2 things you can smell.. and then 1 thing you can taste. There are heaps more tips HERE.

Culture, faith and shame

People from cultures or faiths where porn is a no-no often feel more shame and guilt about their porn use, regardless of how much they watch. They are also more likely to feel anxious about getting help.

If this is you, you’re not alone, so try reaching out to a trusted friend, adult, school counsellor or call the pros HERE – it can really help.

Switch up your day

Changing up your day can help break the cycle. You’ll feel heaps better too. Make a mental note of when in your day you tend to watch porn – and try doing something else instead.

Go for a walk, surf, drive or just call a mate. Ditch your phone when you’re going to bed. Yep, that’s hard, but super worth it.

Reach out

If you’re struggling, having a korero with a good friend or trusted adult can really help.

If you want to talk about porn with an adult but feel a bit awkward, click HERE. Or get some help from the pros HERE.

Shake it off

Sometimes a ‘change of state’ can help shake off a feeling.

Try popping in the shower, putting your face or hands under cold water, or going outside into the cold air to help hit the reset button.

Kia Tau, Mindfulness and breathing

It sounds simple, but the experts tell us that doing simple breathing exercises can help our mental wellbeing.

Hikitia Te Hā is a series of te ao Māori breathing exercises that anyone can learn. They are a super helpful way to calm our body and mind, check them out.

Want more?

If these tips have just scratched the surface, here’s more specific tips for what you might be struggling with…

☐ When you want to watch less, but can’t – CLICK HERE
☐ When you’re watching/trying out aggressive porn – CLICK HERE
☐ When you don’t feel good about your body – CLICK HERE

☐ When porn’s impacting your relationships or sex life – CLICK HERE

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If you’re struggling, having a korero with a good friend or trusted adult can really help. It might feel awkward talking about porn – but it’s worth it.

Body Image

Watching lots of porn can be brutal on body image – seriously, in real life everyone’s ‘down below bits’ are super different. Here’s some tips to help…

Be a porn critic

If you’re watching porn, be a savage critic: “Porn is fantasy…. that’s not real…. nah – I don’t have to look like that”.

Love the skin you’re in

If there are parts of your body you think are a bit average, that’s normal – you don’t have to like everything. But don’t let porn make the calls on how you feel about your body.

If you’re having a hard time being kind to yourself, it’s never too late to learn to be okay with who you are, as you are. Give this app HAPPY NOT PERFECT a go.

Cleanse your social feed

Try unfollowing profiles that make you feel bad about yourself. Constantly seeing unrealistically tall, skinny, and ripped bods can be savage for your body image.

Next time you’re scrolling, check how you feel. If it’s crap, unfollow them for a couple days and see if you notice a difference.

Silence the inner critic

When you notice you’re hating on your body or your self-talk is getting a bit nasty, check it.

Ask yourself if you’d talk to a friend like that?

It happens to best of us

Our recent survey showed that porn’s impact on mental health and body image can be an issue for many young people.

If you’re comfortable with it, try chatting to a mate about it. Chances are, they’re in the same boat as you.

Really struggling?

Sometimes when we are worried about body image it can affect our relationship with food.

If this is you, check out THESE great resources.

Pubes are all good

Some people shave their pubes – that’s their choice. But you shouldn’t feel pressured to do this. It’s hair. It’s normal. And pubes actually help prevent STI’s. Yep – crazy, but true. #bringbackthebush

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Try not to let porn make the calls on how you feel about your body – seriously, in real life everyone’s ‘down below bits’ are super different 😊

Change topics?

LEARN
Porn and mental health

The experts tell us that watching lots of porn can sometimes impact our mental health. This depends on how much porn someone’s watching, what type of porn they watch and how they feel about their own usage.

Some young people say they have a healthy relationship with porn and don’t experience any mental health impacts, and others find porn is really impacting them.

People who feel ashamed about their usage (despite how much or little they use) or have strong cultural or religious backgrounds where there are big taboos around porn, are more likely to experience some mental health effects.

Porn, the brain & ‘addiction’?

Porn can make us feel great when we’re watching it, so it’s normal to want to go back when we want that feeling again. The more we do this, we can teach our brains that porn is a good comfort and it can start an unhealthy pattern of using or needing porn to escape our feelings. It’s pretty common for young porn viewers in NZ to want to cut back on how much they watch, at least sometimes(5).

Some young people say they feel ‘addicted’ to porn – this usually means they feel uncomfortable about their porn use or they’ve got a habit they’re struggling with 😔 (check this out) If you’re worried about your own porn use or someone has mentioned porn addiction to you, click HERE.

Porn and body image

It’s super normal to compare ourselves to what we see in porn, but it’s not always helpful. Many young people struggle to live up to the body images in porn… like ‘big this’ or ‘small that’. Check out this article on body image and porn.

“They just looked so perfect and it made me think, ‘My G*d, this is what guys are seeing and I do not look anything like this.’ It just made me feel so sad.”
FEMALE, 15, OFLC research
“I think all genders think that (porn) is what sex is. Girls my age feel the need to shave all pubic hair because that’s what is in porn and that is what is considered normal. Boys feel that they should take charge in sexual situations and have to “last” as long as porn stars.” FEMALE, 16, OFLC research
Porn and body size – the lowdown on what’s real, what’s more normal and what’s not.

If most of the nude bodies you’ve seen are on porn, it’s hard to know what’s in the vaguely normal spectrum of bodies and what’s not, so here goes…

  •  Penises – “Penises are as unique as the people they hang from. There’s no such thing as a bad shape or size — just bad information on how to use it”. They can be curved, upward/downward, C-shaped or straight, circumcised or not. Check out this funny PG health article on different penis sizes and shapes. FYI flaccid (soft) penis size has little relationship to erect penis size (6).
  •  Vulvas – (the outside part of vaginas): There are about NINE different labia (vaginal ‘lips’) shapes, and variations within those. Colours, shapes and sizes are ALL different, and they keep changing when aroused. Check out this fun PG health article on what real vulva are actually like.
What’s ‘up’ with porn and penis size?

Some young people worry about the size of their penis and porn doesn’t help – porn actors usually have much bigger penises than the average person. FYI the average range in size goes from 9cm (soft) to 13cm (erect). But remember, bigger doesn’t mean better.

Porn and your peeps

Some young people who watch a lot of porn say they feel isolated from friends or family. This could be because they’re spending more time on devices than with people in real life or because they feel too ashamed to tell anyone about their porn habits.

If this is you and you want someone to talk to, CLICK HERE for Tips on convos with whānau or talk to the pros HERE

CHECK OUT THESE COOL APPS!!

There are lots of apps or IG profiles now to help you manage your mental health, stress or sleep issues. Check out:
Smiling Mind
Headspace
Mentamia
Happy not perfect and ‘Calm’ profile on IG.

Porn & sleep

A lot of people start watching porn at night to help de-stress and get to sleep. It may help at first, but when you end up relying on it to de-stress before bed, it can become a hard habit to kick. Other young people end up staying up later than planned to watch porn.

Either way, random fact… “Using devices before bed can delay your body’s internal clock , suppress the release of sleep-inducing hormones and make it difficult to fall or stay asleep(7). Okay wow.

Research tells us that people from cultures or faiths where porn is a ‘no-no’ often feel more shame and guilt about their porn use – regardless of how much (or little) they watch!

LISTEN

PORN AFFECTING YOUR MENTAL HEALTH OR BODY IMAGE?

The Try Guys Get Photoshopped With Men's Ideal Body Type

Guys get photoshopped and then talk about whether it really makes a difference to their body image.

Girls Ages 6-18 Talk About Body Image

Girls share about their own body image and how a healthy body image doesn’t really depend on how you look.

Women's Ideal Body Types Throughout History

Interesting video on how what’s viewed as ’the perfect body’ is temporary and changes with time!
Listen to what people think about their body, especially when they compare it to famous peeps. And also, what we think a ‘hot’ body changes so much – you might just be ahead of your time 😉
TALK/TEXT

1737

If you’re feeling anxious, down or overwhelmed, 1737 offers a free confidential call or text line with trained counsellors 24/7.

Text: 1737
www.1737.org.nz

The Lowdown

An awesome website and 24/7 help service for youth who feel stuck. Whether it’s mental health issues, relationships, or school issues, the lowdown offers ideas, info and help.

Freephone: 0800 111 757
thelowdown.co.nz Text: 5626 for confidential chat. Anonymous online chat 24/7.

YOUTHLINE

24/7 free service designed just for youth. You can call or text to talk about big or small stuff.

Anonymous online chat 7-10pm.
Freephone: 0800 376 633
Text: 234
www.youthline.co.nz

Aunty Dee

Awesome wellbeing tool that helps you work through any type of problem by guiding you through a series of questions that help you come up with ideas, solutions and connections to the right support.

www.auntydee.co.nz

Suicide crisis helpline

Free 24/7 suicide crisis helpline with a specialist. If you need urgent help ring 111 and tell them your life is in danger.

Freephone: 
0508 TAUTOKO

www.lifeline.org.nz/services/suicide-crisis-helpline

Fun fact: Research shows that simply talking to someone about how we feel can actually improve our mental wellbeing. It can get stuff out of our head and help shift how we feel. Wow.