Self-Help Tips for Managing OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)
Having “OCD” has become mistaken as a fun personality quirk in our society. You’re “OCD” if you dislike crooked picture frames and unwashed hands. In reality, it’s one of the most misunderstood conditions ever – but one that’s very treatable.
OCD symptoms can be immensely debilitating, far beyond simply preferring things organized and clean. Many falsely assume that the only way to get relief is with medication or therapy. In reality, with a handful of self-help tips for OCD, you can provide yourself with some OCD relief before your next appointment.
In this guide, follow along as we examine OCD intervention in the comfort of your home.
Understand Your OCD
Before pursuing self-treatment methods, it helps to make sure you know exactly what OCD is. The myths about OCD include misconceptions about the actual disorder, too, and not just the common misperception.
Make sure to brush up on your knowledge of OCD. This is a chronic illness that doesn’t usually go away. Become an expert, as it were, on your own condition.
Similar to anxiety and depression, this tends to be a lifelong condition. You need to iron out effective, day-to-day treatment. Learning to manage your OCD is the ultimate goal – not seeking a cure.
Self-Help Tips for OCD
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy with Exposure and Response Prevention is going to be the primary treatment of OCD. The purpose of this blog is to cover other tips for self-care in the process of managing OCD. OCD relief comes as a mixture of relaxation techniques, stress management techniques, and lifestyle changes. Let’s examine ways you can deal with intrusive thoughts or manage ritual urges.
Coping with Stress
Stress is one of the main factors that exacerbates OCD symptoms. Logically, when you get rid of the stress, you mitigate the severity of OCD. It’s like ripping up the roots of a plant to stop it from growing.
How you cope with stress will depend on you. Everyone has their own strategies. What’s effective for your case may not work for the next person.
Here are some of the most common ways to minimize stress:
- Sleep a full eight hours
- Eat a balanced meal
- Exercise daily
- Adhere closely to your treatment plan
In addition to your normal stress management, create “emergency” stress-reduction techniques. Methods you can use in a panic attack or high-stress situation. For example, you might benefit from a quick grounding exercise.
Anxiety and stress go hand-in-hand. Many people who have OCD also experience a significant degree of anxiety.
In particular, people with OCD may have anxiety about their obsessions. Anxiety may simply be fear of the consequences of this condition, such as losing friends or embarrassing oneself in public with their OCD. There may also be deeply rooted concerns about flagging work performance or handling finances to pay for treatment.
You may even experience frequent panic attacks that make it difficult to function. Similar to stress, there are ways to handle anxiety specifically:
- Watch your self-talk (continuing to ruminate on obsessions or worries versus taking proactive actions)
- Schedule time for relaxation
- Schedule time for handling stressors and solvable worries
- Reducing unnecessary stressful situations
- Asking for work accommodations
- Cognitive-Behavioral exercises
A big part of handling your anxiety is similar to how you handle OCD: controlling your thought narrative. Many people with OCD experience highly negative self-talk. Training yourself to be positive and equitable to yourself is key.
Aside from this, it helps to reframe your fears to avoid always fantasizing about worst-case scenarios.
Learning Relaxation Techniques
Relaxation techniques work both as daily maintenance and as a means to tackle a sudden episode. This may include some of the following:
- Deep breathing exercises
- Meditating or mindfulness exercises
- Progressive muscle relaxation
- Praying or reading scriptures
Find out what works for you. Some people feel great peace after 10 minutes of meditation. Others struggle to sit still for so long.
Deal with Intrusive Thoughts
OCD often manifests as extreme, anxiety-provoking thought trains that are hard to derail. They repeat nonstop. Unfortunately, repressing these thoughts is usually counterintuitive.
The key is not trying to stop OCD thoughts outright. Instead, challenge them.
Recognize them as being just thoughts, not truth or necessarily reality. Scrutinize them as you might have a bad argument. By playing the devil’s advocate, you help yourself to “defang” the thoughts.
Writing down thoughts and compulsions for later helps provide a visual guide you can use. It robs the power from the thought and exposes it as being repetitive. Now, you have a tool to reduce the severity of them and remain functional in your day-to-day life.
Avoid Acting Out Compulsions
You can’t always avoid your triggers. Things will set you off, and you will still have obsessions. A key self-help tip is to avoid giving in to your compulsions.
Suppose, for example, that your OCD centers around an obsession with handwashing. If you get the compulsion to do so after touching a door knob, try to walk away and do something else. Refocus your attention onto something you enjoy instead or find productive. After given enough time you see if the compulsion is still there or lowered in it’s severity. This helps to desensitize yourself to the compulsion and weaken its control over you.
Visit Bradley Barker, LPCC
Getting regular treatment from my medical professional is a core component of handling OCD, make no mistake. Participating in Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy with Exposure & Response Prevention is a key for finding long-term relief from OCD. But anyone with the condition should still have some self-help tips for OCD in their treatment repertoire. These techniques can give you control over your condition when at home, work, or anywhere else.
Bradley Barker, LPCC provides faith-based treatment for those suffering from OCD, anxiety, and marital issues. Call or click here to get the treatment you deserve.