OCD, or obsessive-compulsive behavior, can stem from various causes and manifest differently from person to person, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all treatment, but it is possible to manage symptoms. Actively managing OCD may help to reduce intrusive thoughts and compulsive behaviors. Learn some of the practices that can help you manage OCD and gain more control of your day-to-day mental health.
At its core, mindfulness is staying present with your thoughts and feelings without assigning meaning or value. Rather than thinking that some thoughts and feelings are good while others are bad, you simply embrace them neutrally and let them pass.
Mindfulness can present unique challenges for people managing OCD. Intrusive thoughts are often alarming and uncomfortable. Compulsive behaviors arise from believing that certain feelings, actions, or outcomes are inherently bad. Mindfulness through meditation or yoga won’t feel effective or valuable right away; however, by returning to the practice regularly, you may begin to release the judgment of your thoughts and feelings more easily.
Exercising can release some of the stress that fuels your anxiety. Certain kinds of exercise, like aerobic activity, can also lead to a release of calming chemicals like endorphins and serotonin. Plus, many physical activities require you to stay more present in your body rather than getting lost in your thoughts. Whether you’re rock climbing, running, or swimming laps, your mind is less prone to wander, which may keep intrusive thoughts at bay.
The best way to approach exercise as a tool for managing OCD is to explore your options and find the activity you enjoy. In conjunction with a mindfulness practice, intentional movement can rest the brain while contributing to your overall health.
Get Better Sleep
Symptoms like intrusive thoughts and compulsive behavior can make sleep elusive for people with OCD. You may even find yourself procrastinating around bedtime. Unfortunately, inadequate sleep can make anxiety worse. You can prepare yourself for a better night’s sleep in a few ways. Methods include:
- Developing a consistent bedtime routine
- Going to bed and waking up at the same times every day
- Eliminating screentime in the final hour before going to sleep
- Using natural supplements that may promote sleep, like melatonin or chamomile
If an active mind keeps you awake, consider placing a notepad on your nightstand. When your mind starts racing, write down your thoughts. Writing down your thoughts can signal to your brain that you can let them go for the time being and pick them back up at a more appropriate time.
Minimize Substance Usage
Studies have found a link between mental health disorders like OCD and substance abuse. For many people, substances like tobacco, alcohol, and drugs become a form of self-medication. By dulling the senses and/or releasing feel-good brain chemicals, substances may help to keep symptoms like intrusive thoughts at bay.
The problem is that substance use also has an adverse effect on mental health. For instance, nicotine causes a spike in blood pressure, sending the brain and nervous system into a heightened state. Many substances, particularly when used in excess, can create feelings of withdrawal, harming your physical and mental health. It’s best to minimize substance usage or cut out substances like tobacco, alcohol, and drugs entirely. If you struggle with addiction, don’t hesitate to seek treatment to detox and find new ways to cope with your OCD.
Embrace Your Community
OCD can disrupt your life in a number of ways. That includes the time you spend connecting with family, friends, and other community members. Feelings of isolation can make anxiety and OCD worse, and it’s essential to keep those lines of connection open when managing OCD. You may find it helpful to talk to trusted loved ones about your experiences with OCD. Support and understanding is often the first step toward finding new stress management methods.
It’s important to ensure you aren’t relying too heavily on that support and reassurance. Many people with OCD fall into a pattern of over-seeking reassurance, inhibiting their ability to self-soothe and manage OCD independently.
Seek Professional Therapy
Professional intervention is often necessary for people with OCD. The proper therapeutic practices will create a safe environment to explore OCD symptoms, learn what triggers them, and find new ways to cope. OCD treatment involves a combination of traditional therapy and ERPT (exposure and response prevention). The former works to unpack some of the events or trauma that may have contributed to your current state. The latter works to expose you to your triggers to challenge your obsessions.
CWC Can Help With Managing OCD
Managing OCD can feel like an uphill battle, especially if you’re at the starting point. While these methods aren’t foolproof, dedicating yourself to some or all can produce significant results. Comprehensive Wellness Center can help you on your journey. We offer inpatient and outpatient programs that are created around your specific needs. To find out more or sign up for a CWC OCD treatment program, contact us today.