Many individuals who live with OCD find that an important first step in self-help is to be open about their condition with friends and family. If you have OCD, being able to talk about it with the people that are close to you can help you to feel more comfortable about the condition, as well as less isolated.
Spending time with other people who have OCD can also be beneficial. Joining a support group or engaging with other people who have OCD online can help people to feel accepted.
It may also empower them to talk about their experiences in an environment without worrying that they may be judged.
Relaxation and minimizing stress
People with OCD often find that their symptoms get worse when they are stressed, so managing stress is a really important coping strategy. We tend to feel stressed when we are in situations wherein a lot of pressure is placed upon us and we do not feel as though we are in control.
What follows are some tips that, while they may not necessarily cure your OCD, could help you to understand your triggers and minimize their effects. Recognizing when stress is likely to build up can help you to catch it before it overwhelms you.
Part of managing stress is about avoiding these situations, if at all possible. Another big part of managing stress is learning how to cope with difficult situations, or “developing emotional resilience.”
Trying different relaxation techniques could help to ease stress — for instance, deep breathing techniques can be calming.
Try breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. Count to four as you breathe in, and again as you breathe out.
Another good way to relax can be taking a break from your devices. Try going an hour without your cell phone on. Does it help? Then why not try going the whole day?
Instead of flopping down and zoning out in front of the television or losing yourself in Facebook in the evening, try reading a book, drawing a bath, or trying out a new recipe. Taking time out from our usual routines can give us a sense of space, which many people find calming.
Creative hobbies — such as painting, sewing, and crafts — can be a great source of relaxation. And, music can really help to distract us from upsetting thoughts or feelings of anxiety.
Whether it is playing an instrument, dancing, or just putting your headphones on and cranking up the volume, losing yourself in music can be very therapeutic.
Some people think that mindfulness may help people with OCD. There has not yet been much conclusive research Trusted Source into whether mindfulness is effective for OCD, but it can help people to manage their mental health in general.
Mindfulness techniques involve paying deep attention to your mind, body, and surroundings and working on how you respond to changes in your mental state.
Sleep, exercise, and diet
Many mental health problems tend to flare up as a result of not getting enough sleep, and studies have shown that OCD is no exception to this. So, making an effort to stick to a regular sleeping pattern can help a lot.
Again, try avoiding cell phones, laptops, tablets, and TV for at least an hour before bed; these can stop us from getting the sleep we need. People who are physically active are more likely to get enough nourishing sleep, so a little exercise — or even just going for a walk or doing some housework — can work wonders.
Alcohol, caffeine, and foods with lots of sugar can all disrupt sleep, so be careful to moderate your intake of these if you have OCD and problems sleeping.
That familiar quick hit of energy that comes with coffee or soda may feel necessary during the day, but as well as messing with your sleep, it can also boost anxietyTrusted Source and depression, thus potentially worsening OCD symptoms.
Foods that release energy slowly — such as nuts, seeds, pasta, rice, and cereals — are a preferable alternative because they help to balance blood sugar levels.
Drops in blood sugar levels can bring about depression and fatigue, which may be destabilizing to people with OCD. And, ensuring that you drink lots of water — aim for 6–8 glasses per day — will improve your concentration and help to balance mood.
Although these strategies are by no means a one-size-fits-all cure, if you have OCD, you may find that some of these techniques are helpful in avoiding or minimizing the effects of your triggers.