10 tips for beating OCD

March 9th 2016

Hi everyone!

I know everyone here who suffers from OCD experiences some form of stress or anxiety, whether it be from intrusive thoughts, rituals, or even just worrying about the effects their illness has on their life! But we need to find NEW ways to combat these intense feelings of anxiety without engaging in repetitive rituals or compulsions – this is the hardest but most vital step towards recovery.

Here is a list of the 10 things that have been most successful for me so far:

1. Visualisation

Consider how your OCD negatively affects your life, how stressed, scared, depressed and helpless it makes you feel. Now visualise your life WITHOUT it – how free you’ll be, how much time you’ll have and imagine all the things that will now be within your reach. Give yourself motivation to change.

2. Exposure

However hard this may be, avoidance only makes what you’re afraid of all the more terrifying; try to resist the temptation to give in to compulsions and obsessions – it will take lots of practice, but the anxiety DOES reduce. Imagine your OCD as your bodies over sensitive alarm system – the annoying fire alarm that goes off when the toast gets burned. You feel anxious about threats that WON’T harm you! And what happens when that fire alarm goes off? We just simply turn the alarm off – panic over. Exposure helps to retrain your brain to understand that the perceived ‘threat’, is absolutely nothing to be afraid of.

3. Positive affirmations

Admittedly, this one may be a bit embarrassing to begin with…but it is definitely a good one! Using affirmations every day has been proven to increase positive thinking, and to put you in that state of mind that will allow you to have a go at everything and anything in your way. An affirmation is basically a short, simple statement, used to bring you subconscious thoughts into the front of your mind. In other words, you take control of your way of thinking. They can be as personal or as general as you like, as long as you repeat them to yourself every day and make sure you BELIEVE in what you are saying.

For example – I am in control of my mind and my thoughts.

4. The simple things

Quite often, we forget to look after our most basic needs properly. Yet you should never underestimate the power of fresh air, good rest, sleep and nutrition. Make sure you sleep at least 8-9 hours, as it’s just as important as eating, drinking and breathing. Sleep is our bodies chance to repair itself, to process information; lack of sleep has been proven to make your irritable, depressed, unable to concentrate and think clearly and can even weaken your immune system. In short, a lack of sleep will only intensify your OCD all the more.

5. Improving your diet can also play a vital role in increasing your energy, promoting calmer feelings and increasing your happiness. Proper nutrition is likely to keep you feeling better physically and emotionally.

6. Another simple thing you can do is to spend more time in nature! Being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature, reduces anger, fear, and stress and has only positive effects of your overall mood and wellbeing, physical and emotional, by even reducing the production of stress hormones in our bodies. Try taking regular exercise, going for walks, or even spending 20 minutes outside with your dog – it will honestly make the world of difference to your anxiety.

7. Positive People – By far the easiest of all tips, surround yourself with positive people! These optimistic, cheerful beings make us all feel better about ourselves, let us laugh, have fun and increase our self-esteem, automatically putting you at ease, allowing you to forget about OCD for a second. You can’t ever expect to make positive changes to your life while surrounded by negative people.

8. Keep busy – Take action and keep yourself occupied, taking your mind of all the inner anxiety and worry. Try doing something new – get a new hobby, spend more time with friends or volunteer your time! But remember, don’t try multi-tasking – it only causes your thoughts to race uncontrollably and causes stress levels to jump sky high!

9. Reward yourself. Every little achievement is worthwhile. Every little achievement is something you should be proud of. Whether it’s resisting a compulsion for a few seconds, accepting help or even simply trying. You deserve to be good to yourself, no matter how you feel.

10. Let it out. This final tip. Talk to anyone at all about your feelings, friends, family, counsellors, or anyone on the forum! If you feel unable to express yourself verbally, try journaling, writing down all you can – even the good things, things you’ve enjoyed or accomplished. Letting out your worries and fears helps to relieve the burden anxiety can become, and is definitely a step towards freedom for good.

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