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5 Tips for Managing Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

As anyone who has been diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) can tell you, this condition can threaten to take over your life. Even with treatment and diligent self-care, OCD can hamper your ability to maintain your mental and physical well-being. OCD thought patterns can get deeply embedded, but the cycle can be managed — and even broken.

Hallmarks of OCD include an unrealistic perception of your thoughts and responsibilities. As a result, you’ll overestimate the risks in your life and focus primarily on what feels like prevention. With patience and hard work, such patterns can be drained of their intensity and power.

5 Tips for Managing Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

1. Know Your Triggers

At first, this can feel tricky. OCD thought patterns are generally illogical, so discerning what triggers them requires daily observation. Keeping a journal is always helpful and will come in handy during therapy. A good place to start is to monitor what’s happening just as the obsessive thinking began, for example:

  • Your location
  • Time of day
  • Are you with someone or alone?
  • Did something occur just before the obsessions emerged?

Identifying your triggers is not a step toward avoidance. Rather, it’s how you begin implementing coping mechanisms. Before thought patterns can spiral, you are prepared. You knew it was coming and that means, over time, you can lessen the lure of the compulsions.

2. Talk Back to the Intrusive Thoughts

Thoughts are not facts. When OCD insists that only perfectionism can save the day, take a closer look. Ask for evidence. Do some fact-checking. This is not meant to imply that you can think your way out of a spiral. But it does mean you can assume a mindset that is ready to take steps that serve your goals.

man sitting on a bench surrounded by trees3. Take Detours

As you get better at recognizing triggers and how deceptive they can be, you can derail the momentum by “distracting” yourself. If you sense yourself slipping into a state of rumination or worry, immediately disrupt it by engaging in a new activity. It doesn’t have to be major. If you’re familiar with meditation and breathing exercises, just jump right in. In another case, you may reach out and call someone you trust. Other possible options might include:

  • Work up a sweat with some exercise
  • Immerse your mind into something creative and artistic
  • Dive into those household chores you’ve been meaning to do
  • Turn on some music and sing along, dance, play air guitar, etc.

4. Self-Education

Knowledge is power. The more accurate information you can gather about OCD, the more control you will feel. Of course, this process requires some discernment as there is no shortage of misinformation out there. So, get some guidance and then commit to research in the name of demystifying the disorder.

5. Boost Your Self-Esteem

A person with a good self-image is someone less likely to feel depressed or worried. With guidance from your therapist, find ways to increase self-esteem and thereby reduce OCD symptoms. For now, consider that a proven method of enhancing one’s self-esteem is to acknowledge your progress. No matter how small it seems, take time to celebrate every step of the way. Self-compassion is a potent bulwark against negative thought patterns.

Of Course, You’ll Want an Experienced Guide

Being positive and proactive is essential. However, managing OCD requires the input and support you’ll get from a seasoned therapist. They can help you turn self-help steps into action while treating the underlying issues. An approach like exposure and response prevention (ERP) has offered relief and hope to countless folks with OCD.

We invite you to reach out and connect soon for OCD treatment. Let’s schedule a free and confidential consultation to get things started.

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