Please note: The information on this page should not be construed as medical advice, nor should it be used to diagnose or treat any condition. The content on this page is written by recovered OCD sufferers, not by clinicians. Read More
How to beat Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
Do you struggle with Obsessive-compulsive disorder? Do your obsessions and compulsions feel like they’re in control of your life? Are you tired of the endless OCD cycle of anxiety, doubt, and uncertainty? You are not alone. I have battled OCD for many years before finally coming out victorious.
Here are my tips on beating OCD, and I have used them successfully.
Don’t get me wrong, OCD is a battle that never goes away completely.
Even though I am not struggling with OCD anymore, it does come back if I am not careful.
What is Obsessive-compulsive disorder?
Also called the doubting disease, Obsessive-compulsive disorder is an anxiety disorder where your mind constantly struggles with intrusive thoughts. These intrusive thoughts go against everything you believe in, whether religious beliefs or moral values.
Some common obsessions are:
– Fear of accidentally harming someone.
– Fear of being contaminated with germs.
– Intrusive sexual thoughts.
– Fear of hurting loved ones (hurting your child, spouse, parent).
Compulsions are the rituals you do to reduce the anxiety triggered by intrusive thoughts; some common compulsions are:
– Washing hands excessively.
– Unnecessary double-checking (turning off the stove five times, making sure the door is locked ten times).
– Going back to check if you have hurt someone or not.
– Repeating specific words in your head over and over.
The problem with OCD is that it feeds on itself. As soon as you give in to the compulsion, the anxiety is reduced for a short time. But then it comes back, even stronger than before. And the OCD cycle repeats itself; your mind is stuck in a loop.
Obsessions are the “What if?” and compulsions are the “How to fix it?”.
You feel like there is no other way out of this loop. If you try to resist or ignore the compulsions, your anxiety increases more. To be successful in beating OCD, you need to change that way of thinking.
If OCD is left untreated, OCD behaviors like avoidance and reassurance seeking can turn into a vicious cycle of up and down moods – leading to depression, isolation, and burnout. Here is my tip on beating OCD.
Do your homework.
Find out as much information about OCD and how to beat it. There are tons of resources online – use them! Read books on the subject, watch videos, talk to people who have gone through similar experiences, etc.
The more knowledge you have about how to best approach your symptoms will make it that much easier to succeed.
Intrusive thoughts are very common – it’s how our mind works.
Knowing that everybody has obsessive thoughts and that’s normal will help you not feel so guilty about having them.
Create a treatment plan.
Once you have learned all you can, it’s time to create your individualized treatment plan. Be sure to involve your doctor or therapist in this process to help you fine-tune your strategy. Your treatment plan should include:
– Exposing yourself to your fears (this will help you realize that your fears are not true).
Use cognitive behavioral therapy techniques (CBT) to change how you think about your obsessions and compulsions.
– Relaxation and stress management techniques help calm down when anxiety hits.
– Use medication to help you manage your symptoms, if necessary.
The importance of choosing the right therapist.
Choosing the right therapist is very important! Be sure to find somebody knowledgeable about OCD, understands how you feel, and is empathetic.
The therapist should be a specialist in OCD, not just a general therapist that claims to be well-informed about OCD. Do your research and take your time to find the right therapist for you.
Use cognitive-behavioral therapy CBT.
First-line treatment for OCD is exposure and response prevention (ERP); this is one of the best tools you can use to “re-wire” your brain’s pathways. ERP teaches you to manage your OCD by gradually exposing yourself to the sources of anxiety while resisting engaging in compulsive behaviors.
When I was at my worst with OCD, I found cognitive behavioral therapy helpful in teaching me how to manage my symptoms. Specialty acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) taught me how to accept and let go of the thoughts causing me much anxiety.
Acceptance means allowing yourself to have intrusive thoughts but not giving in to the urge to do compulsions. Once you stop beating yourself up for having intrusive thoughts and stop trying to make the anxiety disappear, you are well on your way to recovery!
Set small, achievable goals.
Once you have decided upon a course of action, it’s essential to set specific and measurable goals for yourself along the way. Having a plan and measurable goals will make your life much easier as you take those first steps towards recovery. It will take time to beat OCD, so be patient. Allow yourself to have your symptoms without letting them control you.
Beating OCD is a marathon, not a sprint! 🙂
To beat OCD, you have to get ready for a marathon. It takes a long time to get better, be patient, and know that you WILL beat OCD! If you want to reduce your OCD symptoms significantly, it will take some time. It’s like training for a marathon – you start with one mile and eventually get to the point where you can run 5 miles or more without getting tired.
Do the same with your OCD – start small, do a little more each day and build on that.
Focus on improving your self-confidence and self-esteem.
Having low self-esteem, poor body image, and lack of confidence will worsen the anxiety making the OCD cycle spin. To beat OCD, you have to focus on improving your self-esteem and getting rid of insecurities.
It’s also essential to get into good physical health since being in a poor state of mind can take its toll on your body. Focusing on all of your strengths, rather than just what makes you feel weak, will help boost your self-confidence and improve your overall mental health.
Don’t ever give up!
Even if you’ve already tried some of the techniques above without seeing any results, never lose hope. It might take some time to find what works for you, and it might be an uphill battle at times, but it is possible to break free from the OCD loop with enough dedication and persistence.
Breaking free from the OCD cycle is not easy by any means, but it is achievable with enough time and effort put in.
Stay motivated – use affirmations!
The best way to keep yourself motivated during this challenging time is through positive self-talk and affirmations. Write out some specific, positive statements that you can tell yourself when your OCD is getting the best of you – or make a poster with them on it to hang in your kitchen!
It is an essential part of your recovery because it will help you stay confident and focused
Stay in the present moment.
It’s very easy while struggling with OCD thoughts to get stuck in “OCD loops” I would find myself getting caught up in fear of the thoughts and ruminating about them for hours. It would lead to compulsions and rituals, temporarily making me feel better, but the thoughts were still lingering.
With Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, I learned that the only way to be free from intrusive thoughts is to stay in the present – focus on what you are doing right now.
Don’t let your OCD control you!
Don’t let your OCD bully you into doing rituals that you know are not helpful. You have OCD, but that doesn’t mean that it gets to control your life. You are in charge of yourself, not OCD!
Beating OCD is an ongoing process, don’t expect it to be easy.
As you start to go through the process of beating OCD, some days will be better than others. There are good days, and there are bad days – sometimes your symptoms might not be affected at all by treatment, and things seem like they’re getting worse.
But guess what? It’s not the end of the world! There are just some days where you have to put in more effort – that’s what beating OCD is all about. It takes time, but with enough hard work, things WILL get better.
Make sure to get enough sleep.
I cannot stress this enough – sleep is so crucial for beating OCD!
Sleep deprivation can exacerbate OCD symptoms, making it more challenging to continue treatment. Don’t let your lack of sleep sabotage all your hard work! Even if you have a tough time sleeping at night, force yourself to get up and go to bed earlier the next day – it will be worth it in the end!
Give yourself little rewards along the way for all of your hard work and successful days on the treatment plan. Whether this means taking a bubble bath at night, grabbing dinner with a friend, or buying something you’ve had your eye on- the possibilities are endless!
If everything is messy and chaotic, I can’t focus on anything – including getting rid of my OCD. Make a conscious effort to keep your living space and work area organized, and you’ll find that it will be much easier to stay on top of your OCD.
Create a support system.
OCD can be incredibly isolating – but it doesn’t have to be. Surround yourself with people who understand what you’re going through and are willing to support you through your treatment. It could be friends, family members, or a support group specifically for OCD sufferers.
Just make sure you are not using the support system for reassurance seeking. You are always welcome to join our OCD community.
Take care of yourself.
It may seem like common sense, but it’s so important! Make sure to eat healthy foods, exercise regularly, and get enough Vitamin D (either through natural sunlight or supplements). These things will help your mind and body to be at their best, which in turn makes it that much easier for you to win over OCD.
Make a list of ALL the symptoms that you experience.
Make a list of all of your OCD symptoms – when they happen, how often they happen, and what triggers them. Make sure to include reassurance-seeking, avoidance behavior, and rituals. When you do this, you better understand your OCD and how it functions in your life.
You can then use the information gleaned from the list to develop more effective strategies for stopping your compulsions. It might take some time to write out the list, but it’s definitely worth the effort!
Create a list of daily goals and stick to them.
Having an open schedule can make OCD symptoms more difficult to manage – especially if you don’t have any structure in your day-to-day life. Sit down and create a short (1 or 2 hours) to-do list for each day; this should include daily goals like exercising, cleaning your living space, completing a work project, etc.
Feel free to adjust these as needed throughout the week – but having some structure will be invaluable in your battle against OCD.
Focus on one task at a time.
Multi-tasking might seem like an easy win – but it’s detrimental to your mental health. Instead of trying to do three things at once, focus on one task until you’ve completed it! It might seem trivial, but taking the time to complete a task will help you feel successful, making it that much easier for you to win over OCD.
Interrupt your obsession and compulsions early if possible.
The longer you stay stuck in an obsessive thought pattern or compulsive behavior, the more ingrained it will become. If you catch yourself having an intrusive thought, don’t wait until your mind is already deep in the obsession – instead, try to interrupt the thought as soon as possible.
When done correctly, your mind will let go of the thought, and you’ll be left with nothing more than a tiny blip in your memory.
Take a break when you need one.
If you’re experiencing a challenging time with your OCD, then take a break from therapy. It’s important to know when to stop and take a few days off instead of pushing yourself to the limit. That way, when you come back – your chances of beating OCD will be even greater! Overcoming OCD can feel like an impossible task – but it doesn’t have to be.
If you’re willing to work at it and focus on your goal, then there’s nothing that can stop you from overcoming OCD. If you’re struggling with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – then it’s time to take control of your mental health! Commit yourself that you will achieve the happy, healthy life that you deserve – and go after it with everything you have!
Remember, getting rid of OCD doesn’t happen overnight.
But if you make a commitment to yourself and stay focused, then it will happen – sooner than you think!
Challenge and confront your thoughts.
One of the essential things in overcoming OCD is learning to challenge and confront our thoughts. We all have intrusive, negative thoughts from time to time – but we OCD sufferers tend to take these thoughts at face value as being true.
Challenge and confront these thoughts instead of believing them – and you’ll notice a big difference in how your OCD affects you!
By challenging and confronting our OCD, we can beat the disorder at its own game.
For instance, if one of your intrusive thoughts is to check the door 18 times, challenge this thought, and see what happens.
Try not to check the door, start with as little as 5 min and see what changes – you might be surprised by the results!
Work on becoming mindful.
When we lose ourselves in our obsessive thoughts, it’s hard to remember who we are, why we’re doing the things we do, and who we want to be.
We lose touch with reality when our thoughts spin out of control because we become disconnected from the present moment.
The more you practice mindfulness—the more your perspective changes. You’ll learn to let go of the past so you can move toward a happier future.
OCD can make it challenging to feel comfortable in social situations, so you must force yourself to get out there. The more you stay home and avoid socializing with others, the more your OCD will start to control your life. I know this can be hard – but when you push yourself to go out every day, you’ll find that being social feels easier over time!
Don’t get discouraged if you have a bad day. Bad days are just part of the process of learning how to overcome OCD. No one is perfect – and we all slip back from time to time. Just make sure that you forgive yourself right away and get back to doing the work when you do mess up.
Every day, try your best to push yourself out of bed and work towards overcoming OCD. Even if you feel like throwing up or crying before you start – know that you’re human!
It’s easy to be bogged down by our obsessive thoughts and feelings – and it’s often hard to remember that we’re more than just our OCD.
Catch yourself when you start to say things like: “I am a terrible person because of my intrusive thoughts.” or “If only I could get rid of these intrusive thoughts, then life would be perfect.”
Make a list of things you can enjoy doing.
One primary symptom of having OCD is how much it takes away from our enjoyment of everyday activities. Make a list of all the things you enjoy – whether watching your favorite TV show, going to the gym, or seeing a friend. This list serves as a great reminder of how fun and fulfilling life can be!
A lot of courage is needed when recovering from OCD.
You have to be brave and not let OCD stop you from living your life the way you want it to be! It means facing your fears and doing the things you are afraid of, even though you have that horrible feeling in your stomach or that annoying voice inside your head.
It also means being brave when it comes to accepting yourself and forgiving your imperfections. You have to be brave enough to let go of the past and move on into a happier future! It means saying goodbye to OCD and all the pain that comes with it.
This one is easier said than done, but it’s so important!
No matter how hard things may get, we need to remember to stay positive and keep our outlook on life as optimistic as possible.
It will help us maintain hope during tough times and fight against OCD.
You can beat OCD!
You deserve to be happy and healthy – so don’t let OCD stop you from getting there! Keep digging deep, and know that you will recover with hard work and effort. It might take some time – but it WILL happen if you keep pushing forward. There you have it – my tips for successfully beating OCD.
I hope they provide some guidance and help to anyone struggling with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Please feel free to share your own experiences dealing with OCD. Do you have any good tips that have helped you beat OCD and related disorders?
- About the Author
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Hi, I’m Ted Robinson. I have been undergoing CBT treatment with great success for the past year. I hope to give hope to other people struggling with mental health issues by telling them about my experience. Read my OCD story.