Important strategies to combat obsessive compulsive disorder

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) symptoms can be overwhelming and prevent you from living your life. It’s all too easy to feel powerless. The good news is that there are habits and practices you can use to reduce anxiety and manage your OCD stress, even if you’re getting started learning how to treat OCD.

  • Get as much exercise as possible

Exercise is an effective way to combat OCD anxiety and stress. It can help you refocus your mind when you have trouble with intrusive thoughts or compulsions. Experts recommend 30 minutes of aerobic exercise per day, but this does not have to be done in one sitting. Three 10-minute mindful exercise sessions are far superior to one 30-minute distracted jogging or bicycling session.

It’s possible to exercise while meditating on something distressing, but as you continue to practice mindfulness, you may notice that upsetting thoughts and ideas fade into the background more easily.

  • Make contact with family and friends

OCD symptoms can become so severe that they take over your daily life, isolating you from family and friends. Isolation can exacerbate OCD symptoms, so make time with people you care about a priority.

Talking to supportive friends about your OCD experiences is okay and even beneficial. Just make sure you don’t keep asking for reassurance. Excessive reassurance seeking is a typical pattern in people with OCD, and while it may appear harmless at first, it can prevent you from managing your symptoms on your own.

  • To cope with stress, practice mindfulness

High anxiety and the presence of intrusive thoughts are two critical characteristics of OCD. Mindfulness can help to alleviate both symptoms. Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present in the present moment, accepting your experience without judgment or the desire to flee it.

Mindfulness can be practiced at any time and in any place. It’s as simple as noticing and observing your thoughts and feelings. Recognize that they exist and will pass, just like a car passing by on the street outside, and that you don’t have to do anything to make them disappear.

Expect it to be difficult at first. It’s easier said than done, especially with OCD, to acknowledge your thoughts without acting on them. Find a practice that you enjoy, whether meditation, yoga, or something completely different. Your OCD mindfulness practice will become more accessible and more natural over time.

  • Nicotine and alcohol should be avoided

Self-medication can be tempting when you have OCD, especially when you’re first learning to manage it. Many people turn to substances like alcohol and nicotine, which have a legendary reputation for calming but aggravating OCD symptoms. At first, alcohol makes you feel relaxed, but as it wears off, it makes you more anxious. Nicotine is a stimulant that will exacerbate your OCD symptoms from the start.

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