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5 Useful Tips to Manage OCD

May 16, 2022
The World Health Organization records 1in 40 adults and 1 in 100 children to be diagnosed with an obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD. You’ve probably seen a lot of characters with obsessive-compulsive disorder in many sitcoms. They poke fun at these characters for wanting to get things in a particular way, making sure something is stored in a specific position, those who need to wash their faces over and over again, and many more habits that show obsession. Even if we roll out of our seats because we can’t control our laughter, OCD is not something that should be laughed about. It may seem like a joke to the general population but for those suffering from OCD, these random bursts of obsession are torturous for them. Not only does the diagnosed patient suffer, but so do the loved ones surrounding them. There is no one face of someone with OCD. People who have this mental illness are afflicted differently, their OCD showing up in various ways with diverse compulsions and obsessions. These people are plagued by obsessive thoughts, impulses, or images that play repeatedly in their minds. They feel that they are not able to control themselves and their obsessive thoughts. Those with OCD, as a result, are always scared, feel restless, and/or experience disgust. An OCD patient can also suffer from anxiety or panic attacks caused by their intrusive thoughts. So what are compulsions? When someone is obsessed with their thoughts and feelings, they resort to compulsions so that they could fix what is bothering their mind. For instance, there is a certain way the objects on Angel’s desk are arranged. When she goes to the office in the morning and the arrangement has been changed, Angel would quickly fix it so that it looks exactly the way she left it before going home the previous day. The bottom line is that compulsions, like obsessions, take multiple forms. To help put a person with OCD at ease, their personal solutions and coping mechanisms must be considered for treatment. Every person is different and their OCD manifests in different ways so treatment should be tailored fit for each and every patient. But even if it should be highly customizable, there are general strategies to help people with OCD cope with the disease. We list some of these below:
1. Welcome OCD.
Do not treat OCD as an unwanted visitor. Yes, it can be likened to monsters in your head but it doesn’t mean you can’t conquer them. Do not fight something that you do not know. Give it a face, name the monster, and shape it in your head. Why not call it a Monster or a Bully, if you wish. This will help you to acknowledge that they exist. It will take them out of the darkness and bring them into the light. If you’re a parent, you can discuss your kid’s OCD In this way with them. When they know that OCD is not a part of them and just a visitor, it helps them in a way that they could talk about it and not be ashamed.
2. Jot down your thoughts in a journal specifically dedicated for your OCD.
Do you track your exercises right or the food that you eat? Do the same with your OCD. Keep a journal of what triggers your intrusive thoughts so that you may understand your condition better and help assess the overall state of your OCD. Keep track also of the compulsions you did to get over the obsession and what happened after you did your perceived resolution. After the day has passed, read everything you wrote in your journal, sit down and assess yourself. Why do you think this particular action triggered your OCD? What is the possible scenario if you do not do your compulsions? How close to reality is your thought likely to happen?
3. Relieve OCD through Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP).
This is a common technique to combat OCD. Basically, what you do at ERP is to expose yourself to that obsession. You won’t run away from it but then, you shouldn’t do any compulsion. You just let the obsession be. Help yourself by having a list of your fears and triggers, ranked from 1 to 10. Confront your trigger when it arises. Wait for at least 10 seconds before succumbing to your impulse and doing something compulsive. Be patient until some time that you no longer feel the need to use your compulsion. Go up that ladder as you conquer your fears one by one.
4. Focus on something else.
If you feel being attacked or about to be attacked by another OCD episode, refocus gears and think about something else. You can also do something physically so that your mind shifts from what’s causing you anxiety to what’s calming you down. Just repeat this until your mind calms down. You can do physical activities like jumping, walking around, singing a song, or playing with your fur baby. You can do mental practices by listing in your head everything that you see, naming the colors of every object in your line of vision, spelling your name, or counting backward. You can even recite or sing your favorite song.
5. Reward yourself every time you fight a trigger successfully.
For example, you did not entertain your obsession or you told yourself that you won’t be attending to it and you were able to, buy yourself ice cream or pizza. You deserve the prize after successfully conquering a mountain in your head. Challenge yourself, commit to it, and reward your tough mental fortitude. This can be stressful if you did it every day so why not take it week by week? One compulsion that can be beneficial to you, but not obsessive, is cleaning clutter. Make sure you have smart storage options in place to maximize the storage capacity of areas in your home such as your garage or basement. Try your best not to obsess over making it perfect; just start by cleaning so that your OCD is temporarily relieved even for just a while.