There are actually so many things you can do to start dealing with OCD better. The titles of this blog is actually very broad, so to help give it a bit more direction i’m going to focus on the three things you can do that will definitely help your OCD.
Find An OCD Specialist
The first step I would always recommend people to take is to seek support from someone who really knows about OCD. So many people make the mistake of either not finding the support of a therapist or coach, or finding the wrong type of therapist or coach.
If you know you are struggling with OCD and you are willing to work with someone, then that is a big step in the right direction. You are saying to yourself that you are important, that you matter and that you want to take action on how to deal with the OCD.
But if you then seek out support and wind up working with someone who might be a very good therapist, but who doesn’t really understand OCD, then this might actually end up being a bit of a backwards step.
Having found the courage to reach out for help and made the relevant financial investment, you would be hoping that you will get the support you need, but so often this isn’t the case. Unfortunately, some types of therapies can actually be counter productive for OCD, even leading to it getting worse.
If you’re working with someone who encourages you to counter your negative beliefs with more positive ones for example, rather than working on acceptance and exposure work, then you might be working with the wrong person.
Gradually Learn To Face Fears
Which leads in nicely to the second step, to face your fears. You may already know quite a lot about ERP or exposure, response, prevention. It is the most researched treatment for OCD and plays a big part in people getting better.
Exposure is important as it gives sufferers an opportunity to face the fear in a controlled way and to learn to tolerate and ultimately accept the discomfort that the obsession produces. The ´response prevention` part involves not performing a compulsion to try and lessen fear around a given compulsion.
Exposure work is usually done in a gradual way. A hierarchy of fears in drawn up and people are encouraged to start with obsessions that only give them a 2 or 3 out 10 of anxiety. As they build their confidence by facing their lesser fears, they can gradually move up the hierarchy and learn to develop a different relationship with their fear.
Exposure work isn’t easy, but it’s an essential part of learning how to deal with OCD. Done well, it can really help people to start moving past their obsessions.
That Overly Used Word – Mindfulness
Finally, it’s very important to learn how to use mindfulness skills to successfully manage OCD in the long term. Now unfortunately mindfulness has become a bit of a victim of it’s own success, it’s everywhere these days and sadly some people are put off by this.
Mindfulness is so important for OCD as it provides scaffolding for exposure work and provides people with the right skills in order to manage OCD in the long term. One of the most important concepts of mindfulness is acceptance. When we can truly learn to accept all of our emotional states and not just the positive ones, we can really start to manage our mental health more effectively.
A great way to learn mindfulness skills that will really help with OCD is through an approach called `Acceptance Commitment Therapy`. It marries mindfulness with CBT and encourages people to focus on their values and to live more in the present.
Whatever you decide for how to deal with OCD, these three steps will be of enormous help. If you do want help for OCD and anxiety, then please feel free to let me know or leave a message in the comments.