Dealing with and living with obsessive-compulsive disorder

Living with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is not easy. Most people with this condition tend to isolate themselves because their rigid rules and behaviors put pressure on those around them. Talking to a doctor, planning daily activities, avoiding triggers, and focusing on positive things can be very helpful for people with OCD.

Coping with obsessive-compulsive disorder

OCD is characterized by repeated behaviors and thoughts that cannot be controlled. If they don’t perform these behaviors, they may feel restless and uncomfortable. For example, they may feel the need to clean the entire house if they see a speck of dust, spend hours washing their hands if they accidentally touch something dirty, or check if the doors are locked dozens of times before leaving the house.

People with OCD have many worries that seriously affect the quality of their lives.

People with OCD have many worries that seriously affect the quality of their lives.

The causes of OCD are not fully understood, but they are believed to be related to past traumatic experiences or imbalances in the transmission of nerve impulses in the brain. While obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) does not usually affect a person’s physical health, it can have negative effects on their mental health, quality of life, work, and even daily activities.

So how can you live with OCD?

Maintain Proper Treatment

Obsessive-compulsive disorder can affect a person for their entire life, depending on its severity. Using medication or other psychological care can provide many benefits to patients. Therefore, maintaining treatment as prescribed by a doctor is the most important measure for living with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Patients should pay attention to taking medication correctly and consistently, try to take it at the same time each day to achieve the best effect. Absolutely do not increase or decrease the dosage on their own as it can lead to unwanted side effects. However, most people with OCD tend to do this well due to their personality traits.

Additionally, adhering to a treatment schedule with a therapist is also crucial to make living with OCD easier. Remember to always be honest when communicating and working with therapists, express all emotions and difficulties, so that they can provide the best support. Implementing stress-relief measures and soothing the mind as instructed by psychological experts can also greatly benefit the daily life of OCD patients.

Read Books to Live with OCD

An interesting study was conducted on OCD patients, which found that reading horror novels can actually improve their quality of life. This is intended to stimulate absorption, release tension in everyday issues through scary details in the story.

Empathy from books can somewhat comfort and soothe the mind of patients.

Empathy from books can somewhat comfort and soothe the mind of patients.

Patients with OCD say that the fiction in these books can comfort them because the characters in the stories have suffered but have been able to overcome it. The empathy drawn from the end of each story makes the patient believe that at least they are not facing death or being infected with dangerous viruses, so they do not have to worry too much.

Another study also shows that reading books can help strengthen neural connections, enhance cognitive expression, and empathy. This also greatly helps patients who have to live with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Especially if the characters in the story have similar circumstances, such as children abandoned by their parents, when reading stories about superheroes always protecting people in such situations, their tendency towards combativeness and irritability tends to decrease.

In fact, using books to cope with mental illness has been around since the beginning of the 20th century. Historically, Ramses II described the library in Thebes as the “place of healing of the soul” because it could soothe the mind and relieve stress. Nowadays, reading therapy for depression, addiction, stress disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder has become very popular.

How to cope with anxiety when going to the dentist?

Going to the dentist can be an anxiety-provoking experience for many people. However, there are several things you can do to help cope with your anxiety:

  • Talk to your dentist: Let your dentist know that you experience anxiety when going to the dentist. They can help you understand what to expect during your visit and may be able to suggest techniques to help you relax.
  • Practice relaxation techniques: Try deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, or visualization techniques to help calm your mind and body.
  • Bring a distraction: Bring headphones and listen to calming music or a podcast during your appointment. This can help take your mind off of your anxiety and the dental procedure.
  • Use positive self-talk: Instead of focusing on your anxiety, use positive self-talk to encourage yourself. Remind yourself that you are strong and capable of handling this experience.
  • Consider sedation options: Talk to your dentist about sedation options, such as nitrous oxide or oral sedation. This can help you feel more relaxed during your dental procedure.

Remember that it’s normal to feel anxious about going to the dentist, but taking steps to manage your anxiety can help make the experience more comfortable for you.

Shifting focus to a different topic

The brain has the ability to change itself, which means that if you can redirect your attention to different events, current anxiety can also decrease or disappear, preventing their compulsive behaviors. This can be helpful in reducing feelings of tension and anxiety for OCD patients, and their impulsive behaviors can be quickly controlled.

Listening to music or focusing on a task can help alleviate anxiety for patients.

Listening to music or focusing on a task can help alleviate anxiety for patients.

Accordingly, patients should shift their focus towards positive activities such as listening to music, exercising, and helping someone else. For instance, listening and singing along to music can reduce thoughts about whether the lights were turned off before leaving. Or, helping an elderly person cross the street can “push away” anxiety about touching a public restroom toilet bowl.

In daily life, patients should also enhance activities or tasks that require high concentration and avoid distractions to live with mild obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) more easily. This is the technique created by Jeffrey M. Schwartz to struggle against not yielding to emotions. Even resisting against these compulsive thoughts for only one minute means that the condition is improving.

Living with mild OCD, keep a journal

The brain of OCD patients seems unable to switch to “new activities, new thoughts” and keeps repeating the same actions they have done. This will be critical if they have already taken medication but are unsure and repeat it several times. To control this issue, patients should learn how to record, take photos to prove and preserve their daily activities.

For example, when taking medication daily, include a paper with the date/month/time of taking it and stick it on the medicine box to avoid repeating it. Or take a photo of the house with all the lights turned off before leaving. So, in case you worry that you don’t know if you have taken medication or turned off the lights, you just need to take out your phone and check the picture. This will be a firm foundation for you to confidently reassure yourself.

Keeping a journal when living with OCD can help patients save a lot of time in their daily life, at least as a tool to reassure themselves. Don’t delete these pictures until the day is over because patients may think of them and want to check them again at any time.

Pay attention to daily eating habits

Nutrition also plays a significant role in the treatment process for OCD patients. In addition, maintaining stable meal times and avoiding hunger pangs is essential because hunger can lower blood sugar levels and make the mood more irritable. This is not good for OCD patients as it will stimulate their anxiety, tension, and worry to progress even more.

A scientifically sound diet can bring many improvements for patients.

A scientifically sound diet can bring many improvements for patients.

Some food groups that are considered helpful for patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder to supplement are:

  • Legumes and nuts with high nutritional value such as soybeans, peanuts, and lentils.
  • Healthy proteins from sources such as eggs, beans, and lean meats.
  • Complex carbohydrate-containing foods from vegetables, fruits, whole grains…

To live in harmony with obsessive-compulsive disorder, patients also need to limit the following food groups:

  • Tea, coffee, energy drinks, or any stimulant drinks that can stimulate the nervous system and cause insomnia.
  • Alcohol, beer, or any alcoholic beverages. Some people may choose to use these substances to soothe their spirits, but in reality, they only have a negative effect. When the mind is not clear, it is easier to perform repetitive unconscious behaviors.
  • Spicy foods, oily foods, high protein foods, and foods high in salt or sugar should also be limited.

Think positively, stay away from negativity

Not only for OCD patients, but everyone should learn to think positively every day. Just by changing the way you look at a problem, the results you get will be very different. For example, instead of always complaining and blaming oneself for having OCD, you should look at yourself as someone special.

Instead of focusing on the flaws of OCD, try to find the benefits that the disease can bring to you. It may sound strange, but in reality, people with obsessive-compulsive disorder due to their perfectionism and meticulousness tend to be successful in their work. They are also very clean and pay attention to their appearance, so the work environment is quite diverse.

Just looking at these two characteristics, you should feel somewhat comforted. In addition, some tips for living with obsessive-compulsive disorder to maintain a positive mindset:

  • Ensure to get enough sleep for 7-8 hours every day, go to bed early, and avoid staying up late or lack of sleep which can make your mood tired, impatient, and less patient, making it difficult to calm yourself.
  • Maintain a daily exercise routine to improve both physical and mental health.
  • Learning meditation and yoga brings a lot of good improvement in calming the mind for people with obsessive-compulsive disorder.
  • Breathing exercises will help patients maintain calmness when faced with choices during OCD symptoms.
  • Music therapy is also one of the effective ways to relax the mind.
  • Some other relaxing methods to eliminate negativity such as watching movies, taking a hot bath, using essential oil steam, hiking or simply doing something active.

Remember that there are always many people beside you

In reality, many people with obsessive-compulsive disorder often choose to live alone, especially those with severe compulsions. Their rules and obsessions can cause inconvenience to those who live with them. For example, if a single hair falls in the house, it can cause someone with OCD to become agitated and upset, making it difficult for those who live with them.

The family is always ready to stand by and do everything to help you.

The family is always ready to stand by and do everything to help you.

However, always remember that there will always be people by your side, who accept your difficulties. They are your parents, siblings, and close friends from childhood. They are always ready to listen to your difficulties when living with obsessive-compulsive disorder and find ways to help you. Sometimes, just having someone to listen to your difficulties can make you feel much better.

If there is someone living with you, it is even better for the patient. For example, if you go out, instead of struggling to decide whether to go back home to check if the stove has been turned off, you can call the person at home. On the other hand, those who live with you can create an environment for you to “expose” yourself to your own fear.

Of course, living with obsessive-compulsive disorder is not easy for both the patient and those around them. However, if you have determination, trust in a bright future, and love yourself, then you can overcome any difficulties.

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