Are you suffering from OCD? Here are 9 ways to get back to healthy living

Obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD is a painful anxiety disorder that causes the patient and his near and dear ones, extreme angst and anguish. The thoughts that plague the patient’s head are the result of radicalized fear, sensations, emotions, and feelings, i.e., the obsessions, which cause them to give in to their impulses, i.e., the compulsions.

The following are some steps that the patients can take, and be encouraged to do so by his family and friends, to deal with their OCD. These measures will also compliment the therapy and medications that the patient is undertaking.

Conscious acceptance

Patients of OCD believe their obsessions to be valid, and their compulsions to be apt solutions. The first step to long-term management of the disorder is to accept the illness. The strategy differs from person-to-person. For some, it might be as simple as contrasting a list of common symptoms of OCD, against their own daily behavior. Others may require interventions, and medical diagnosis to prove it. The acknowledgment of the absurdity of their behavior will not come easy to the patient. After long periods of twisted justification of their OCD, they will not instantly relent to the reasoning presented by the outside world. Therefore, persistence is the key.

Acceptance of the illness will lead to the identification of the broken rationale that is connecting their feelings and their actions.

Do remind the person of the need for acceptance, gently.

Do back your reminder with arguments that support the prevalence of OCD.

Do not use violence, threats, or other incentives to make the person accept the disorder. Acceptance is a long-term strategy of coping with OCD, and it must come voluntarily from the person.

Educating the patient

The next step is to educate them further about it. This is a short-term strategy that aims at selling the idea of seeking help, to the patient. It is used to make the patients mindful of the simpler, and happier life that they could be leading, if they could rid themselves of, or control their obsessions and compulsions. This will also make them aware that they are understood, and are not alone in their concerns that they are going through, and that, they have help at hand. The strategy should be followed till the time when the patient is comfortable in admitting his/her disorder.

Do show support. Show them that they are loved regardless of the disorder.

Do share information about OCD, and the experiences of those with OCD, through which the patient might understand it better.

Do not pressurize the patients to seek help. Leave it at objectively educating them about the options available.

Do not set deadlines for seeking treatment. However, gently urge them to be pro-active.

Relapse is normal

Recovery is not the easiest process in the world. One must realize that recovery is not an event, but a process. This is especially not so, in the case of anxiety disorders like OCD. Therefore, this strategy needs to be executed during recovery, whenever relapse occurs.

When starting out on treatment, it is best to let the patient know that, to relapse is normal. It is not failure in the process of recovery. Relapses must be avoided, but the patient must not punish himself or discontinue recovery because of his occurrence. Continued reassurance and reiterating the first two steps, will not let a relapse hamper the patient’s successful recovery.

Be understanding.

Be supportive. The patients are, most likely, being hard on themselves for relapsing. Make sure that you do not make them feel worse.

Do use warm, kind words of encouragement.

Do identify and keep ‘triggering’ objects out of the way.

Do not blame the patient for the relapse. Relapse is normal for a majority of the patients seeking help.

Do not accuse the patient of being an attention-seeker, or wasting resources.

Channelizing energy

At the height of OCD, the patient is continuously exerting their energies into obsessing and worrying about outcomes and possibilities. They seem to be incapable of general human feelings such as joy, humor, relaxation and peace, etc. To deal with this extensive obsessing, the patient must learn to divert his energy so as to be distracted from these compelling sensations and urges.

General humor and cheerfulness could help the condition. They could also be encouraged to take up a hobby or a sport, or could take to writing a journal. While the former may become healthy distractions, the latter could remind the patient of the progress he has made over time, and that the relapses are forgivable.

This is a short-term strategy, to get the patient involved himself in activities outside his comfort-zone. It involves exploring and taking small, personal risks that will take the patient’s mind away from the general obsessions and compulsions.

Do take the patient along with you when going to local clubs, neighborhood meetings, and small parties.

Do indulge in the hobby yourself, so as to make it more appealing to the patient.

Do not force a hobby or sport, which you prefer, on the person suffering from OCD.


OCD is a lot of negativity. It is a continuous state of anxiety, worry, and panic that eventually takes a toll on the mental and physical state of both the patients, as well as those close to them. Several OCD patients retreat into their reclusive shells, and try to keep to themselves. They let the disorder take centerstage in their lives, and do not give a thought about their personal and professional lives. Positivism is a long-term strategy that is required to keep the patient’s spirits up throughout the process of recovery, and to give them strength to lead normal lives post-recovery.

In dealing with, and recovering from OCD, a patient must be helped to recognize that their relationships with the elements of the outside world are of high importance, and that they could source happiness from these relationships, if pursued successfully. This could be done by encouraging the patient to actively engage in a more sociable life that includes family reunions, parties with friends, and going out with like-minded people. They should be encouraged to form new connections to further their careers, their friendships, and their romantic lives.

Do not throw the spotlight on the person’s tryst with OCD in public gatherings. Make him feel comfortable, and treat him normally, as you would treat anybody else.

Sense and sensibility

A patient recovering from OCD, is like a patient recuperating from a traumatic experience. After all the hardships and unease, he deserves some peace and calmness. As part of their recovery, it is imperative that these patients get enough, quality sleep. The amount of rest they get, will help them adjust their lives back to normal living.

A wonderful idea for healing is to sign up for meditation, deep-breathing and/or yoga classes. These sessions promote calmness, and introspection. This strategy is meant to be short-term, but long-term practice is equally beneficial.

Do gift them music CDs that, you think, might help soothe their edgy nerves. Blues, folk, and instrumental CDs are recommended.

Do sign up for the yoga classes along with the patient.

OCD does not define you

Most mental illnesses have no cure. Neither does OCD. Recovery and relapse lie entirely in the choices of the patient. Acknowledging this fact might put a lot of pressure on those suffering from the disorder. However, they must be made to realize that the disorder does not define their personality. They must be constantly made to understand that they can lead normal lives just like anybody else around them. For the patient, this method of coping with OCD might last for an entire lifetime. However, for kith and kin, this strategy is especially important during the initial stages of acceptance and recovery.

Understanding that disorder can be a thing of the past, and need not have any effect on the patient’s present or future, helps the patient gain confidence in making the choice of leading one’s life the way one appreciates it. It helps them let go of their OCD-ic inhibitions.

Do not encourage the person to use OCD as his/her excuse.

Do not make jokes about the person’s OCD, if he/she is not comfortable with it.

No compromises

There is no single turning point that can be pinned down to be the end of the recovery process. However, if the patient feels capable of leaving behind the obsessions and compulsions, then this can become a highlight in the recovery process, and he/she can begin a new phase in his/her life. Once again, this strategy is one for the long-run for the patient himself. Those helping him adapt to a normal life, post-recovery, can use this strategy to help build confidence and love of life in the patient.

The patient must henceforth remember to do things that involve being with the people they love, and doing the things that engage their minds and bodies productively. These things are gainful to them in different ways, and will essentially make them happy and content with their lives, as they are.

Do suggest or put up posters with motivating messages about hope, possibilities, and renewing one’s love for life.

Physical health

Many OCD patients lock themselves up in their personal towers inside their definitive castles. In these towers, they are free to pursue their obsessions and compulsions, away from the prying and judging eyes of other people. This not only affects their social lives, but also encourages unhealthy living due to lack of exercise, exposure to sunlight, and good food. If the person takes up a sport, or signs up for yoga sessions, as a part of his/her recovery, then the outcome will be very beneficial. If not, then the patient can be encouraged to walk or bike as he/she runs their errands and chores outside the house. In the long-term, a healthy mind can only survive in a healthy body.

Do introduce your friend afflicted with OCD to a gym that you are member of.

Do plan fun events like biking trips, going hiking together, or trying your hand at surfing. Keep it light and fun.

Do not force a certain form of exercise or physical workout on the person.

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