Tips for Controlling OCD

Published On: January 19, 2024Categories: Mental Health, Recovery

Living with obsessive compulsive disorder is a challenge that an estimated 1 in 10 adults in the United States face. Not only is it a difficult mental health condition to live with, it is one which frequently interferes with the ability to engage in daily life. 

Men and women battling OCD may feel like they have no control over their life as a result of OCD. 

But there’s good news – with motivation and a little practice, you can implement strategies and routines into your day which will not only help you live peacefully with OCD, but will allow you to regain a sense of control over your life.

Can you overcome OCD?

There is no cure for obsessive compulsive disorder, but there are strategies to manage it which will allow you to overcome the feeling that OCD is controlling your life. By incorporating certain thought processes and habits, you will slowly, but surely, change your ways of thinking and begin to heal the obsessive thought patterns. 

Accept and acknowledge intrusive thoughts

An estimated 6,000 intrusive thoughts float through the average mind each day, but just because we have them in no way means they need to be acted on. And fearing intrusive thoughts only makes them worse. 

Instead of panicking about the thought and wondering “What if,” over and over again, you can gain control over them by acknowledging their presence. You might say to yourself, “Here’s that intrusive thought again,” or “There’s that unwanted idea that keeps popping into my head.” If you name them when they occur, they have significantly less power over you. says it well: “Let the thought sit there. Try to accept that it’s there and that it feels distressing. You don’t need to agree with the thought. But try to accept that you can never be totally sure whether it’s true or not. And try to remember that your distress won’t last forever.”

Try a grounding object 

A variety of objects can be kept on hand which you might use to help keep your mind at bay. If you feel an impulse or have an obsessive thought, reach for a designated stone, bracelet, string or chain. Allow it to remind you that while you’re experiencing an unwanted thought or impulse, it’s just occurring inside your head and does not need to be manifested through action. 

Physical items are helpful tools to utilize in these moments to help redirect your mind and remind you that you have control here, and the obsessive thought or compulsive desire does not.

Ask yourself, “Is this just a thought?” 

A key characteristic of OCD is the impulse to act on thoughts that should hold little weight. It might be an impulse to check the locks in the home multiple times before bed even though you know full well you already double checked them; it might be a shocking or horrifying thought about something sexual, religious or dangerous that you’d never want to act on. 

If this occurs and you feel the urge to react compulsively, take a second to ask, “Is this just a thought?” Thoughts have no weight to them unless we give it to them, we don’t have to agree with them and they’re not always true. Remember: you’re in control. If it’s just a thought, let it be so and allow yourself to continue on without handing it any additional power. 

Take care to not avoid your thoughts

If you spend unneeded energy trying to avoid intrusive thoughts, trying to convince yourself they’re not real or that they shouldn’t be happening, etc., you are likely causing yourself unnecessary grief. Additionally, by trying not to think about it, you inevitably end up thinking about it more. Instead, acknowledge its presence, let it exist and then peacefully let it pass in time. 

Resist any compulsions 

No one said controlling OCD was going to be easy and learning to resist and/or put off compulsive behaviors may be one of the more challenging aspects of OCD recovery. Most often compulsions come with a sense of urgency and the feeling that it needs to be completed quickly, possibly repeatedly. 

When this occurs, wait. Let the urge be present, but resist acting on it. Giving into the compulsion quickly only worsens them, but slowly gaining control and delaying them, even by ten minutes at a time, will begin to allow you to overcome them and put them off for longer and longer every time they arise. 

Therapy for overcoming OCD

Treatment for obsessive compulsive disorder is another crucial aspect of controlling OCD and its symptoms. Treatment modalities like cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), when used in conjunction with additional lifestyle changes, medication and other therapies (as needed or recommended by your therapist), can be instrumental in helping you learn to manage your symptoms. 

If you are interested in seeking out treatment, Tapestry Recovery is here to help. To learn more, contact us online or call our offices to get in touch with someone today at 828-490-4032

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