Self-Management Strategies for OCD
Millions of people around the world live with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and many of them enjoy full, satisfying lives despite the condition. There are many ways for adults to manage the obsessive and compulsive feelings that drive unwanted or destructive behaviors. While self-help can be essential and transformative, many people find it is more effective when used as part of a complete treatment program directed by a licensed professional.
Recognize Intrusive Thoughts
Intrusive thoughts are a hallmark symptom of OCD, as many people with the condition can testify. A consistent stream of inappropriate, frightening or troubling thoughts can provoke consistent anxiety and amplify compulsive urges. Learning how to recognize and manage these thoughts is one of the big challenges of self-guided OCD therapy. Rather than dwelling on the thought or trying to confront them directly, individuals should accept that they had the thought and that it’s okay. Active self-acceptance and appreciation is an effective way to avoid the spiral of avoidance, obsession and guilt.
Try Structured Exposure Therapy
The only way to truly beat a fear is to confront it, and much of the negative behavior associated with OCD is related to fear responses. Structured exposure therapy is simply a self-guided session where the individual places themselves in a situation that would normally provoke a compulsion or anxiety. Initial sessions can be extremely limited, executed for a short time or long distance, with gradual incremental increases in level of exposure over several weeks or months. Desensitizing through incremental sessions gives the individual full control over the situation, which helps them feel greater control over the intrusive or obsessive feelings related to it.
Build a Wellness Network
As with many mental health conditions, it’s extremely difficult for any adult to manage their OCD without any support, according to the Anxiety an Depression Association of America. The condition is defined by its ability to cause doubt and depression, which can derail even the most committed people. Working with a coach or therapist who specializes in the disorder opens up other options, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and access to a professional counselor on a regular basis.
Practice Meditation and Breathing Exercises
While many people practice meditation as part of their lifestyle, fitness or religious goals, it can also be a valuable tool for OCD therapy. Following basic breathing exercises or meditation sessions can help adults develop more awareness of their own thoughts, identities and fears. Deep breathing and other skills developed by these two activities can also be an effective alternative for undesirable compulsive behavior.
Stay Active and Eat Health
The state of someone’s mental health can’t be summed up in one word, and the factors that impact it certainly aren’t limited to the brain. People who are serious about managing their OCD to improve their personal and professional life should consider adopting fitness and healthy eating habits into their weekly routine. Fitness improves overall health and can significantly improve confidence and sense of self-worth, which can help address anxiety triggers.
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OCD may be a life-long condition for most of those diagnosed with it, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a life-long curse. The best way to truly overcome the challenges associated with the condition is to embrace wholesome self-help tactics that build mental awareness, positive emotions and appropriate behavioral responses.