Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a complex and often debilitating mental health disorder that affects a person’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. There are two sides to OCD – obsessions and compulsions.
Obsessions are unwanted, intrusive thoughts, mental images, or impulses that repeatedly pop into your head. For instance, you may be obsessed with germs and constantly worry about contracting an illness. Or, you may have intrusive thoughts about harming yourself or others.
These obsessions can be disturbing and may cause a great deal of anxiety, distress, and discomfort.
Compulsions, on the other hand, are the ritualistic behaviors or mental acts that a person feels compelled to do to relieve the anxiety that is caused by their obsessions. For example, someone with a fear of germs may compulsively wash their hands repeatedly to the detriment of their skin. OCD compulsions are often time-consuming and may severely interfere with a person’s life.
While professional treatment is highly recommended for people with OCD, there are numerous self-care tips and techniques that can help you better cope with OCD symptoms. These include:
1). Identify your triggers.
Triggers are the things that bring on your obsessions and compulsions. They can be internal (thoughts, emotions, or physical sensations) or external (people, places, things, or situations). Identifying your triggers means you’re more aware of your condition and better prepared to face your fears without feeling too overwhelmed.
2). Challenge your thinking.
Many people with OCD have distorted or irrational beliefs about their obsessions and compulsions. Challenge your thinking by examining your obsessions closely to see if they really hold up to logic and reason. By doing so, you will be able to reduce the power OCD has over you and open up your mind to a healthier way of thinking.
3). Confront instead of avoid.
It can be tempting to avoid situations or things that trigger your OCD symptoms. However, this only reinforces your fear and makes it harder to face your triggers in the future. On the other hand, facing your fears gradually will help you build your confidence and enable you to live a normal life despite your OCD.
4). Use coping statements.
Coping statements are positive affirmations you can say to yourself when you’re feeling anxious or stressed about your OCD symptoms. For instance, you might tell yourself, “These are just thoughts and not reality,” or “I can handle this.” Repeating these statements to yourself can help to calm your nerves and ease your anxiety.
5). Practice self-care.
When you have OCD or any other mental disorder, it is vital to keep your body healthy and nourished, both physically and mentally. This means eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly. It also means taking breaks when you feel overwhelmed and doing things that make you happy.
6). Seek professional help.
If OCD symptoms interfere with your day-to-day life, seeking professional help is vital. A mental health professional will provide the necessary tools and resources to manage your OCD and live a healthy and fulfilling life.
The Bottom Line
These are just a few self-help tips and techniques to help you better cope with your OCD symptoms. Remember that self-care should not be a substitute for professional treatment but rather a way of complimenting it.