Everyday with OCD: 5 Practical Tips for Managing Your Symptoms

You don’t like it but you do it anyway. Whatever the “it” is for you (handwashing, lightswitch flipping, cell phone checking, etc.) you are bullied by your brain to do so. Like it or not.  No matter how annoyed, exhausted, or frustrated you feel. OCD makes getting through the day a continuous challenge.

Symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) are indeed the result of anxiety.  Logically, you likely understand that. Yet, try as you might to quiet your mind, your compulsions keep taking charge.

Is there any way to reign them in, assume control, and manage such persistent behavior?

Take heart. There is a way forward. You just need a plan.

5 Practical Tips for Managing Your Symptoms Everyday

1.  Pause & Breathe

As you recognize the Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder activating in your brain, try to pause. For however long you can, try to mentally detach from the situation to consider what is occurring.

Then, breathe in deeply. That’s it.

It seems simple. Yet, breathing exercises help you in a couple of key ways. First, they permit you to inhale more oxygen. This is physically leveling and allows your body to relax and operate optimally. Second, by concentrating on your breath, you shift your attention helpfully.

Intentionally pausing to breathe helps slow things down. It allows for creating space in order to adopt a “bigger picture” perspective in which you may ride the wave of your compulsions urges and employ more self-control.

2. Stay Present & Aware

Mindfulness is non-judgmental awareness of the present moment in which you don’t assign any profound meaning to your thoughts.

The goal is to lean into the aforementioned “pause” and pay attention to your physical sensations as well as the sights, sounds, thoughts, and emotions you are experiencing.

Why is this helpful? Mindfulness helps you tolerate the distress that compels you to engage in repetitive activities and compulsions that only bring on short-term relief and make the cycle of OCD stronger. By intentionally facing uncertainty or disturbing thoughts in the moment,  you can unhook from your obsessions and ritualistic behaviors. In an internal way, you face your fears and may find they dominate your behavior less. Moreover, you may discover that paying attention to thoughts and letting them go, without acting, is possible. Your thoughts are simply a cluster of internal ideas and mental pictures that exacerbate your symptoms. Just knowing that can help you feel more in control.

3. Make an Aerobic Exercise Routine Happen

There is a wealth of information touting the benefits of aerobic exercise. OCD, too, benefits from a  self-help strategy of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as jogging or HIIT training. It has been found to reduce the frequency and intensity of OCD symptoms.

In addition, exercise promotes the release of “feel good” neurochemicals that help elevate mood, raise self-esteem, and decrease the stress that triggers OCD symptoms. Shoot for 30 minutes of exercise a day initially.

4. Intentionally Track Your Triggers

What you are thinking so deeply and repetitively about? These are your obsessions. Pinpoint your triggers. Learn what ushers in your obsessions and compulsions.

Start by simply tracking your triggers on a daily basis in a journal. Keep the process manageable. You needn’t track every single obsession. Just committing to several entries a day promotes a good sense of what you’re thinking before OCD behavior occurs. This can be empowering and informative in therapy too.

5. Tackle OCD in Therapy

To process OCD and create the changes you want, it’s important to employ the support of a qualified expert. They will help you identify your specific needs. Together, you can build a toolbox of therapeutic resources. You’ll be able to draw on them regularly, in-session, and out.

Finally, there is no substitute for the types of supported exposure therapy, practical guidance, and compassionate care you can find with a knowledgeable guide.

Are you ready to start addressing your OCD symptoms productively? Please don’t hesitate, help is available today.  Read more about OCD Treatment and contact me soon for a free 30-minute phone consultation.

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