When you’re committed to making changes in your life and getting rid of OCD, one of the most important things you can do is learn how to challenge your compulsions. A compulsion is any behavior that you feel driven to do in order to relieve anxiety or stress. For people with OCD, compulsions are often related to obsessions or persistent, intrusive thoughts.
Compulsions can take many different forms, but some common examples include excessive hand-washing, checking things over and over again, counting, ordering or arranging things in a certain way, and touching or tapping. Compulsions are usually done in an attempt to relieve anxiety or prevent something bad from happening. However, in reality, compulsions only serve to reinforce the OCD cycle by providing temporary relief from the pressures that are quickly followed by an increase in anxiety.
Examining Your Compulsions
The first step in challenging your compulsions is to become aware of when you’re doing them. This can be difficult because compulsions are often done automatically and without conscious thought. One way to become more aware of your compulsions is to keep a journal and write down every time you perform a compulsion.
Once you become aware of your compulsions, the next step is to start challenging them. This means resisting the urge to do the compulsion and instead allowing the anxiety to remain. It’s important to remember that the anxiety will eventually go away on its own and that the more you resist the urge to do the compulsion, the less power it will have over you.
Challenging Your Compulsions
There are a few different ways to challenge your compulsions. One is to wait a certain amount of time before giving in to the urge to do the compulsion. For example, if you have the urge to wash your hands, you might set a timer for five minutes and see if you can make it that long without washing them. If you’re successful, you can gradually increase the amount of time you wait before giving in to the compulsion.
Another way to challenge your compulsions is to do them differently. For example, if you usually wash your hands for 20 seconds, see if you can do it for 10 seconds. Or, if you check the locks on your doors three times, try checking them only once.
A third way to challenge your compulsions is to do something that is incompatible with the compulsion. For example, if you have the urge to wash your hands, try touching something that you consider to be unclean instead. This will help to show you that your fears are unfounded and that the compulsions are not actually keeping you safe.
It’s important to remember that challenging your compulsions can be difficult and anxiety-provoking. But it’s essential to keep in mind that the anxiety will eventually go away and that you will get better with practice.
Mindfulness is a state of being aware of and accepting what is happening in the present moment. It can be helpful to practice mindfulness when challenging your compulsions because it can help you to stay in the moment and not get caught up in worries about the future or past.
To practice mindfulness, start by focusing on your breath and noticing the sensation of the air moving in and out of your lungs. Once you have a clear mind, focus on the present moment and what you’re doing. For example, if you’re washing your hands, notice the sensation of the water on your skin, the smell of the soap, and the sound of the water running.
By staying in the moment and focusing on your senses, you can help to prevent your mind from wandering and getting caught up in worries.
Get Enough Sleep
Getting enough sleep is essential for maintaining your mental health and well-being. It can also be helpful when challenging your compulsions because it can help to reduce anxiety and increase your ability to cope with stress.
To get a good night’s sleep, make sure to practice good sleep hygiene. This means avoiding caffeine and nicotine in the evening, establishing a regular sleep schedule, and creating a relaxing bedtime routine.
In addition, try to avoid watching television or working on the computer in the hours leading up to bedtime. These activities can stimulate your brain and make it more difficult to fall asleep.
Exercise is another critical part of maintaining your mental health. It can also be helpful when challenging your compulsions because it can help reduce anxiety and increase your ability to cope with stress.
To get the most benefit, aim for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise on most days of the week. But even a 10-minute walk can be helpful.
In addition to the physical benefits of exercise, it can also help to improve your mood and increase your sense of well-being.
Seek Professional Help
If you’re struggling to challenge your compulsions on your own, it’s vital to seek professional help. A therapist who specializes in OCD can provide you with guidance and support as you work to overcome your disorder.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is an effective treatment for OCD. It involves working with a therapist to challenge your negative thoughts and beliefs about your disorder. You will also learn skills to help you manage your anxiety and compulsions.
If you’re interested in CBT, ask your doctor or mental health professional for a referral to a therapist who specializes in this type of treatment.
A Few Final Thoughts
Challenging your OCD compulsions can be a difficult and daunting task. But it’s important to remember that you don’t have to do it alone. If you’re having difficulty challenging your compulsions on your own, consider seeking help from a mental health professional who specializes in OCD.
Seek professional help if you’re struggling, and reach out to family and friends for support. With time and effort, you can overcome your OCD compulsions and live a happy and healthy life.