Practical tips for people living with OCD
You have OCD and have been living with it for your entire life. Believe me when I tell you that I completely understand. That’s because I have had this condition for as long as I can remember.
In an effort to help, I’d like to share 10 practical things you can do each day to remain calm. Some of what’s listed may seem silly. That’s OK. Give them a try anyway. What do you have to lose?
1. When you open your eyes in the morning and wake up, be mindful of your thoughts. Take a deep breath the moment you notice your mind is rattling off a “to do” list.
Focus your awareness on your immediate environment. Using all five of your senses, identify what’s happing around you. This can help pull you into the moment and lessen that sense of dread you may be feeling.
2. Find gratitude. This means identifying something to be thankful for. This could be a relationship with a friend, family member or coworker.
Gratitude can be found in even the smallest of things, like taking note of how the sun shines through your window. By practicing gratitude, you train your mind to focus on the positive.
3. Pack an apple in your bag. The reality is when you live with OCD, you live in a place of suspended anxiety. In turn, this can cause some to eat nervously by reaching for unhealthy foods as a quick fix.
By having an apple close by, you give your mouth something crunchy to munch on. You also create a built-in healthy option when hunger strikes.
4. Grab some humor. There are many ways to make this part of your daily ritual. Examples include finding a funny meme on Twitter or reading comics from your local newspaper.
The goal is to laugh, smile, and get your laughter on. In turn, this helps you to get out of your head.
5. Lean into your OCD by doing something productive. An example might be journaling about your goals for the future or starting the first paragraph of a book you’ve been meaning to write.
Trying to pretend you don’t have OCD is counterproductive. Borrowing from ACT, learn to embrace your anxiety instead of fighting it. The more you resist, the stronger OCD becomes.
6. Deposit money in your piggy bank each day. This can help you feel like you are doing something about financial worries; something that is common among people living with OCD.
It could be a quarter or a dollar. The amount isn’t important. What does matter is knowing that you are actively doing something to save.
7. Engage in physical activity. This needn’t be complicated. A fast walk around the block or doing pushups are simple examples.
By including movement in your daily ritual, you help your body to discharge pent up energy and stress. Over the course of time, you’ll be amazed at how much better you feel.
8. Reduce caffeine. When you live with OCD, you already know having the jitters is part of the reality. That’s why reducing caffeine intake is important.
Instead of having two cups of coffee, try one. Conversely, you could also try a 50/50 mix (available at many grocers). Remember, caffeine is a stimulant. Doesn’t it make sense to reduce your intake?
9. Don’t be ashamed of your OCD – instead, find ways to embrace it. Shame will do nothing but make you feel worse.
By accepting OCD as part of your life, you lessen its grip and negative influences.
10. Focus on one task at a time. Avoid the game of multitasking. Not only will this amplify your OCD, the research tells us that most of us aren’t that good at it.
The good thing about centering your thoughts on one activity at a time is the ability to channel mindfulness; something we know helps us to feel calmer and more centered.
Living with OCD isn’t easy. That’s why it is critical you involve yourself in healthy activities that promote wellness and encourage a sense of calm.
Hopefully, one or more of these tips will help you on your journey.
Thanks for visiting!