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6 Strategies to Stop OCD Thoughts

The diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, involves two parts, as the name implies. You have obsessions and compulsions. These obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors occur at a high frequency, so much so that they start to consume your life.

These thoughts can start to cause you to doubt yourself, hold negative beliefs about yourself, and be in a state of constant worry. Being able to conquer and control your obsessive thoughts is a step in the direction of managing your OCD. While not an easy process, here are six strategies to help you shift your thoughts.

Be Cautious with the Word “Stop”

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Obsessive thoughts are not something that you can simply quit having. In fact, the more you aim to stop them, the more you’ll probably have them. When you’re viewing your thoughts as something problematic or dangerous, you’re more likely to obsess over that itself.

Set your goal to be something more along the lines of controlling your thoughts or reducing your thoughts rather than eliminating them.

Take a Pause

When your obsessive thoughts start to take over, the response is often compulsive behavior to cope with them. One way you can start to control part A is to modify your response in part B.

Compulsive behavior is your own acknowledgement that the thoughts are a reality. Next time you experience an obsessive thought, allow yourself to pause before following through with the compulsion. Try counting or taking a few deep breaths before performing any action. See how you feel from there. Can you delay it any further? Try extending that pause each time.

Challenge Your Thoughts

Part of the obsessive thought is an underlying belief that something bad is going to happen when you don’t perform the compulsive behavior. Oftentimes, this fear is not a reality. Try challenging your thoughts the next time they occur. While it’s easier said than done, it’s worth a shot for the bigger picture.

If one of your compulsive behaviors is to close the door three times before leaving, try doing so only two times. Slowly, but surely, you can try to reinforce your process. When you don’t need to perform the compulsion, your obsessive thought starts to lose some of its power.

Practice Mindfulness

There’s a good amount of anxiety that can come from your obsessive thoughts about what has happened previously or may happen in the future. One way to reduce your anxiety and obsessiveness is to keep yourself grounded.

Grounding exercises can keep you in the here and now. Things you can incorporate into your routine are breathing exercises, nature walks, daily affirmations, meditation, and yoga. What works to bring you peace of mind may be different for another person. Try out different options until you find something that works.

Develop Distractions

Obsessive thoughts can be rather intrusive. Being able to acknowledge them and learning to divert your attention can bring you some relief.

Finding effective means of distraction is one way to slow your racing mind down and shift focus. Options you can try are progressive relaxation exercises, breathing exercises, listening to music, exercise, and sensory distractions like washing your face with cold water.

Consider Therapy

When it comes to OCD, the most effective treatment option is typically some form of therapy. A therapist can help you learn more about your OCD, manage symptoms, reinforce different strategies, and guide you along the process with helpful modifications. Therapy also gives you a safe space to explore your struggles.

If you’re living with OCD, you don’t have to manage it alone. Reach out to us today to learn more about OCD therapy and coping with your obsessive thoughts

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