Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a chronic psychological disorder that goes hand in hand with anxiety. It is categorized by an individual experiencing recurring and intrusive obsessive thoughts (obsessions).
As a result of these obsessions, an individual has a persistent urge to perform specific actions, often repeatedly, to minimize the anxiety that the obsessions have caused (compulsions).
Many people may experience obsessive and intrusive thoughts for specific reasons and get regular with time. However, for OCD patients, these thoughts are persistent, and the behaviors shown are definite and rigid.
If the obsessive thoughts are ignored, or the behaviors cannot be performed, it can increase anxiety or distress. This can interfere with daily chores and social interactions if left untreated.
Symptoms of OCD vary from one person to another. Some of the most recognizable symptoms are:
- A compulsion to organize is one of the first symptoms that come to mind whenever one hears the word OCD. People suffering from this obsess over the placement and organization of things. They will have to keep things neat and precisely in order or perfect symmetry. For instance, they put boxes in order according to their shapes, move objects frequently to place them in the right place, etc. Another symptom is having obsessive thoughts about causing harm to other people by being irresponsible. Their compulsions may include checking doors and lockers to ensure they’re locked, checking electrical switches, checking stoves and ovens to ensure the burners are off, etc. They might have to check something often or even stare at it for a period to feel comfortable.
- People having OCD contamination experience thoughts such as transmitting germs through touch or being close. Such people often need to wash their hands repetitively and clean items frequently to avoid contamination. Most people with OCD may be afraid to make themselves or someone else sick by being irresponsible and hasty. They feel disgusted and excruciating around unclean or unhygienic items, leading to avoidance of particular objects, people, or places. You can also review this link to thoroughly understand OCD
- Another common compulsion is where a person neglects all their chores and everyday work and gets wholly involved in finding answers to their ruminations. Like many other psychological disorders, OCD requires treatment by a consultant. Still, you can manage your OCD symptoms even by yourself. This means you can control your obsessions and intrusive thoughts by working on yourself and assessing your OCD status through different techniques and strategies.
If you are still confused about whether you have OCD or not take an OCD test.
5 Self-Help Techniques to Overcome OCD
Since OCD is a chronic illness, the only cure is to manage the symptoms. Along with the medication, making small amends in your lifestyle can be effective in the long term.
Below are some self-help techniques to manage your OCD.
Know your Symptoms
The initial step in helping yourself is to know why you need help. Similarly, people who are suffering from OCD experience vastly different symptoms from each other. The more you know about the type of OCD you suffer from, the triggers, symptoms, and other facts, the easier it will be to manage.
There are a lot of tips for living with OCD available online. You can even interact with other people going through a similar illness to learn about their experiences. Plenty of blogs and Facebook groups can help you collect information.
However, you should always fact-check any information you find with your doctor to ensure it is authentic.
Manage your Stress
Stress and anxiety can mess up your OCD symptoms. Most often than not, stress and anxiety are caused by small everyday matters.
What helps manage anxiety is building habits to beat it. Some people like to reason with their anxious thoughts. At the same time, some prefer coloring as a relaxing technique.
Rather than spending the majority of your time worrying about grades or promotion, learn the techniques that work for you. This is one of the strategies that will be most useful in dealing with your OCD.
No matter how much you regulate your stress, something might trigger your anxiety and cause you to spiral. Meditative exercises and breath work can help calm you down at the moment. However, this is only possible if you practice mindfulness regularly.
Figure out which relaxation strategy helps you relax your mind and body. It would help if you looked into yoga and meditation examples of mindfulness meditation exercises.
Adopt a Healthier Lifestyle
One of the most basic and primary self-care techniques is to improve your diet. Do not skip meals. Make sure your meal is balanced, with the right amount of proteins and carbs. If caffeine worsens your anxiety, avoid tea and coffee. Take your supplements and drink more water.
Make sure you are sleeping enough. Often medicines can disturb your sleep. Having a relaxing shower or listening to soothing music before bed can help.
Secondly, physical exercise has many mental health benefits as well. Aerobic exercises have proved effective in managing the intensity of OCD symptoms.
You do not necessarily have to hit a gym and do cardio three times a week. Physical activity could be as simple as taking your dog for a walk, taking stairs, or even strolling in the park. Once you have the stamina to do this, you can also hit the gym. You can even try out strength training.
Most importantly, do not hesitate to call up your friend and vent. Holding in your emotions will only increase your stress or anxiety. When you are happy, celebrate your small wins with family and friends.
If you do not have many friends, consider joining groups where you can meet new people. Another option is to join OCD management programs on websites or in person.
You can also read self-help courses addressed to people with OCD. Self-help books are mainly based on research and secondary experiences. This would help you learn new techniques that will hopefully support you in managing your illness.
Now that you know all about your OCD, we hope you will be able to work on living with it. Being on the right track will surely help you live a normal life.