5 Psychological Interventions For OCD


Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental health disorder in which people suffering from it are consumed with unwanted and repeated thoughts, feelings, ideas, and sensations (obsessions). In addition to this they repeat certain behaviours (compulsions).

The compulsions are often performed to control the obsessive thoughts. However, this provides only a short-term relief. When these rituals are not performed, some might feel anxious and distressed.

Here are some tips on how to manage your OCD at home:

1. Understand Anxiety

Anxiety is a manifestation of biological vulnerability and persistent inner conflicts. It is a defence mechanism and coping mechanism to deal with the vulnerability and the conflicts.

It is crucial to acknowledge that your worries, feelings and fears are known as anxiety. When you recognise and identify the issue, you can start managing your OCD. Here are some general facts about anxiety:

  • Anxiety is common, your body’s adaptive system tells you when you are in danger. For this reason, you can never eliminate anxiety, but you can manage it.
  • Anxiety only becomes an issue when there is no danger, but your body tells you that there is danger.
  • Time delay: Anxious thoughts are intrusive as you get hooked on the thought. Decide for yourself to step in when that anxious thought appears in your mind, and stop the thought. Remind yourself to attend the thoughts at a set time of the day.

2. Manage stress

Often you might feel that your OCD is stronger when you are under stress. Therefore, it might be crucial for you to create a list of stressful situations that you might find yourself in. The stressful situations can include arguments with your loved ones, new responsibilities at work, studying, uncertainties etc.

For instance, socialising might be stressful for you. You might find yourself be anxious because you think others will be judge you. Remember to give yourself time and kind to yourself under stressful situations.

Stressful situations might make your OCD worse, but when you anticipate you stressors, you might feel prepared when they occur.

3. Relaxation techniques

If anxiety and stress make your OCD stronger, learning and practicing a few relaxations techniques might be an effective OCD self-help technique.

Meditation can help you to disengage from stress and anxiety. First of all you can practice being mindful of your breathing, and notice anytime you mind wanders away from your breath. When you catch you mind wandering away from your breath, redirect it back to your breath as an anchor to become more present.

Meditation Steps:

  • Sit down and become relaxed, but with an alert posture. Ask yourself what are you experiencing, in other words become aware of your thoughts and body sensations. For 30 seconds, allow yourself to acknowledge this without making judgements or making them go away.
  • Now, bring your awareness to your breath. Focus on the sensations of your breath and the movements of the sensations on your stomach. Spend 2 minutes doing this.
  • Expand your awareness to sensing your whole body breathing. If you are feeling anxious and stressed try to tell yourself that it is OK to feel it and allow yourself to breathe with these feelings. If your mind wanders to difficult thoughts or sensations, acknowledge it and let them go. Always go back to focusing on sensing your whole body breathing.

4. Exercise

Exercise can reduce anxiety and stress symptoms. Nevertheless, it is important to acknowledge that rigorous exercise can promote increase in anxiety severely. Research has shown that acute effects of exercise can increase anxiety immediately.

Nevertheless, findings show that regular exercise might decrease anxiety levels. Therefore, it can be suggested that regular exercise might reduce your stress and anxiety, but possibly your OCD too as it will take your mind off your obsessive thoughts.

5. Building bravery

You have to make sure that you practice to maintain all the progress you have made. If you practice them you will find that your obsessive fears have less power over you. Try to collect moments when you were brave.

For instance, when you spoke up on something important to you and be proud of it. Just remember that progression takes time, be patient and believe in yourself.

Professional Treatment

You may feel hopeless and embarrassed to talk about your feelings because you are scared that people will not understand what you are going through. OCD thoughts can occupy most of your headspace making it hard to focus on your daily activities and your personal relationships, or to take any pleasure from life.

At EmotionMatters we offer treatment for OCD which is lead by our therapists, with additional support available from our psychiatrist and nutrition team, meaning you can explore all areas that support greater health and wellbeing.

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