Tips for Living with OCD - dummies

By Charles H. Elliott, Laura L. Smith

Part of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder For Dummies Cheat Sheet

If you live with OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), you may feel frustrated, isolated, and just plain strange. Keep the following facts in mind, or on a card to carry with you, as you go about your daily life:

  • OCD obsessions and compulsions do not define who you are; you are not your OCD.

  • Seeking reassurance when you have obsessional worries only makes things worse. Try to avoid asking other people whether everything will be okay. Instead, wait a while and see how things turn out.

  • Overcoming OCD requires you to work hard and accept a little discomfort. Remember that your tolerance for discomfort will increase slowly over time.

  • Changing compulsions in some important way (such as washing your hands differently or arranging things in a new way) helps prepare you to overcome the compulsions. When you change your compulsions, they won’t feel as satisfying, but that’s actually a good thing.

  • Every time you hold off a compulsion, you are taking a step toward overcoming your OCD. Even waiting just 15 or 20 minutes is an accomplishment.

  • Don’t forget that unpleasant feelings always lessen if you give them enough time.

  • Don’t try to suppress your obsessive thoughts. Just remind yourself that they are merely coming from the OCD part of your mind.

  • Reward yourself whenever you take a step forward — do something special, take a break from work, or eat a piece of chocolate.

OCD affects both your emotional and physical health. Many people are so consumed by their OCD that they fail to live a healthy lifestyle in other ways. The following tips can remind you to take care of yourself.

Get regular exercise. Join a self-help group.
Get enough sleep. Have patience.
Eat a healthy diet. Treat yourself with kindness and compassion.
Don’t isolate yourself. Get professional help if your efforts stall.
Consider getting support from some friends or family. *