5 effective strategies to cope with OCD symptoms we are discussing. Are obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors disrupting your daily life? Explore practical strategies to cope with your condition!
OCD is one of the major anxiety disorders followed by irrepressible, unwanted thoughts and repetitive behaviors you feel obligated to perform. Double-checking if the door is locked twice or worrying about getting contaminated is normal. However, if you have OCD, these recurring thoughts and behaviors can get quite overwhelming, interfering with your life significantly.
OCD makes your brain get stuck on a particular thought or urge. According to the International OCD Foundation (IOCDF), OCD affects men, women, and children equally and can occur at any age. About 1 in 100 adults in the United States have OCD.
While treatment for OCD usually involves consulting with a qualified mental health professional, there are various self-help strategies to help cope with your OCD symptoms. Here’s what you can do:
1) Identify the Triggers:
One of the best ways to cope with OCD is identifying the situations or thoughts that trigger obsessions and compulsions. You can do this by making a list of all the triggers you experience every day and notice the obsessions they incite. According to an article by Psychology Today, OCD can be triggered by almost anything, including random experiences, sensations, objects, and more.
Therefore, it’s best to identify your triggers to cope with your situation effectively. For example, if you excessively re-check that the windows or doors are locked, make sure to lock them attentively the first time. 5 effective strategies to cope. You can also keep a journal and note it down to reassure yourself that you closed the doors or turned off the stove. Obsessions take place frequently; it’s best to write down at least three triggers per day. It’ll give you a good overview of your OCD and help ease your obsessions and compulsions.
2) Practice Mindfulness Meditation:
Another effective strategy for coping with OCD is to practice mindfulness meditation. By practicing mindfulness, you’ll be fully aware of your thoughts and know that you don’t have to act upon them. Research suggests that mindfulness meditation has a significantly large effect on OCD symptoms and helps in letting go of unwanted thoughts. Another study involving thirty patients with OCD revealed that people who practiced mindfulness felt less obligated to give in to their compulsions than those using distraction techniques.
Start with a deep breathing exercise, where you try to pay attention to the thoughts, feelings, fears, or worries that trigger compulsions. You can sit or lie down in a quiet room with one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. Start by breathing in through your nose. You should only feel your belly expand. Now, slowly blow the air out. Repeat this process and let the obsessive thoughts pass by.
3) Exercise Regularly:
Exercise is one of the effective ways to cope with OCD-related anxiety and stress. It helps refocus your mind when unpleasant thoughts or compulsions arise. A study examining OCD symptoms and aerobic exercise found that the severity of the symptoms significantly decreased after 12 weeks of workout. 5 effective strategies to cope. In addition, exercise helps release endorphins, the “feel good” neurochemicals, lifting your mood and reducing stress.
Remember, exercise can’t cure the symptoms but ease them. There are many ways you can exercise; however, the most crucial thing is to get your heart rate up. You can go for a walk, run for a few miles, ride a bicycle, or do some squats, push-ups, or jumping jacks. You can also download a workout app and track your progress.
4) Avoid Isolation:
Your anxiety, fears, and symptoms may worsen if you isolate yourself from the outside world. It’s best to stay connected with friends or family or go outside once in a while. Isolation can be quite detrimental to your mental health, worsening your OCD symptoms. You can also join OCD support groups to share your experiences or learn from others.
Isolation should never be an option when you’re struggling with OCD. Remember, it’s okay and even helpful to talk about your OCD experiences with family or supportive friends. The more associated you are with other people, the less susceptible you’ll feel. OCD can worsen when you feel alone and powerless, so building a strong support system is crucial. Communicating about your worries and compulsions can make them feel less frightening.
5) Make Lifestyle Changes
A healthy lifestyle helps in coping with OCD symptoms and easing other mental health problems. Here’s what a healthy lifestyle involves:
- Get plenty of sleep to avoid stress and anxiety
- Avoid nicotine or alcohol as it can worsen anxiety levels, intensify OCD symptoms
- Take some time to meditate
- Eat a healthy and well-balanced diet, rich in vitamins and minerals
- Seek professional help
The Bottom Line:
OCD symptoms can worsen if not taken care of on time. There are several ways through which you can cope with your condition effectively. By following the few strategies mentioned above, you can surely ease your symptoms!
Are you looking for professional help?
We are licensed professional counselors who work with patients dealing with OCD and other anxiety disorders. We use evidence-based behavioral treatments such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) therapy to help ease your OCD symptoms. For more information, please feel free to reach out. Let us help you cope with OCD!