Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Dear Stress...

Remember, that stress can trigger OCD symptoms as well as anxiety symptoms of panic attacks and uneasiness. So, let's try to buffer the stress in our lives with pleasant interruptions to keep the symptoms at bay.
Take a walk outdoors if possible.
Treat yourself to a lunch or dinner out, alone, with a friend or significant other.
Buy yourself a small gift. It can be as inexpensive as a lipstick or a bookmark.
Listen to upbeat and uplifting music.
Stay close to the positive people in your life. If that's not possible, seek the wise words of such people online on blogs and web sites.
Reach out and help someone in need.
Join a small group...book club...prayer group...Bible Study.
Treat yourself well. (Just because we feel unwell at times doesn't mean we have to neglect ourselves...appearance, eating habits, exercise.)

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Getting Ready for Spring

     Spring is a 'coming out' of sorts, when we shed heavy coats and see more people out and about.
And this can cause some of us with OCD to become anxious just thinking about it. Why? Because it's as if we come out of hiding. The nicer weather bids friends and relatives to lure us out to going with them to parks, lunches, weekend getaways and so forth. These activities might bring us to face certain OCD fears that the OCD 'bully' will place in our minds.
      Best thing to do is ready ourselves now. Envision ourselves out and having a good time in the nicer weather. Come up with strategies on how to face the fears and enjoy the change of season.
     Buy a few new pieces of clothing to make 'coming out' a festive occasion.
      Eat well to better arm the body for stressful attacks in our attempt to move forward into the
next season and some of the new things it will bring.
     Make some tentative plans for things you like to do. They don't have to be big things. Little jaunts, short visits, spring events in the local area.
     Every season holds its own wonders. Don't let OCD put a halt to beautiful experiences. But always remember, as you plan... 

Friday, February 12, 2016

Watch the Sweets

     This weekend we celebrate Valentine's Day. A big part of the celebratory fun is sweets...candy, cupcakes, and the like. Some of us will receive a heart full of chocolates or treat ourselves to one, or to some of the other Valentine sweet goodies we see in the stores right now.
     A piece of candy or two, or a decorated cupcake for the occasion is fine. But to overload on any of the sweets available to us will not be doing much good to alleviate OCD symptoms.
     Sugar can make us hyper and cause anxiety. It can also make us extremely tired and lethargic the next day, even depressed. Sugar overstimulates our adrenal glands, thus the aforementioned side effects.
     If you do overdo it, drink plenty of water. The eight glasses recommendation is fine, but do not substitute coffee or any other caffeinated beverage for water. That will only add to anxious feelings later on since caffeine is also in the chocolate goodies we will consume. Anxiety can trigger OCD symptoms. And that wouldn't be too much fun on Valentine's Day or the day after.
     If you usually treat yourself to a confection on Valentine's Day, try switching to flowers. A single rose is a beautiful gift to ourselves or to another. Or a small box of candy with a few pieces of chocolate (a little Valentine heart) instead of a big one.
     And if you are the lucky recipient of a large chocolate filled heart, share your goodies with friends or family so that you don't end up eating all of them. If there's no one around to share with, then freeze them to keep for a special one-piece treat now and then.
    Wishing you a Happy Valentine's Day. 


Friday, February 5, 2016

Keep an OCD Journal

     It might sound odd to keep a journal about OCD, but you can use it to measure progress and better see what the major triggers are.
     List your OCD fears and/or compulsions by order of intensity...those that bring the most discomfort and those that are the least challenging.  Then begin with those that are easiest to deal with, one by one, and work on eliminating them. Use the 'talk back' techniques, and expose yourself to the very things you fear. Since the first steps will be the least challenging ones, this shouldn't be too difficult, but will give you good practice to work with the more challenging ones on your list. Don't rush your progress.You might have to work on a particular fear or compulsion for a couple weeks. If you are tempted to check if you turned off the stove, for instance, and you usually check three or four times, try getting it down to one time. Then work on not checking the stove at all.
     Journal your progress in doing this, or whatever your particular symptoms/fears are. It's okay if you have to write how miserable or scared you feel facing an OCD symptom. This is normal. When we are accustomed to running away from the fears or trying to shut them out of our mind. Facing up to them brings on all sorts of anxious feelings. And the 'OCD bully' in our brains is not used to being stood up to. Eventually it backs off knowing that we will not cower from the fear or thought and threats. We will not give into a compulsion in order to feel 'safe' from empty threats.
     Of course, the brain will create new fears and new threats...treat them the same way. "Oh yeah? Go ahead, make my day." And you WILL have a good day from facing up to the OCD bully.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Winter Blues Triggering OCD Thoughts and Symptoms?

Sometimes people suffering with OCD or an anxiety issue need a diversion - a distraction, so to speak.
It doesn't have to be anything big. Maybe call someone you haven't been in touch with for a long time. Change around the decor in your apt. or house. Work on something you've been meaning to work on...cleaning out a closet, a tool shed, book shelves, the fridge, etc.

 And if you can, do get out, even if it is cold outside. Be part of the flow of life. It can be something as simple as taking a ride on the local bus or train for a short distance, or browsing a store or the mall. And if the OCD symptoms are raging at you with fearful thoughts and threats to be compulsive as you attempt a diversion, let it go on, sort of the way we sometimes have to allow a child to carry on and scream while we're trying to do something that they might not like.
The quest to have a good day must be greater than the temptation to cave in to OCD symptoms. Not always easy, but you'll be glad you did when at the end of your day you can say, "I did well. And it was a good day."

Monday, January 11, 2016

Monday Monday...

"Every other day of the week is fine, yeah
But whenever Monday comes, but whenever Monday comes
 you can find me cryin' all of the time." -The Mamas and Papas

Let's hope that these words don't ring true for us today or any Monday, especially regarding OCD or anxiety symptoms. Don't look at Monday as a beginning to another long week of dealing with work, school, or other
regular responsibilities while struggling to hold it all together and feeling weary from fear, stress and/or dealing with OCD.
Instead, look at it as another opportunity to lessen the symptoms...fight back in a way that is not exhausting. Claim your ability to have a calmer week. Make it happen. 
Go back to the exercises on this blog to challenge the 'OCD bully' in your brain. Shrug your shoulders at the bully's threats and 'what if's.' Say to your brain's bully: "See if I care?" OR "Ha! Go ahead, I could care less." OR "Oh well...whatever." These words might not immediately take away your concerns and anxieties but they will disarm them and give you space to move forward. Keep talking back that way to the fearful thoughts or urges to do a compulsion, the way the 'bully' keeps at it. One on one. You will win.
Have a great week.

Friday, January 8, 2016

How Are We Doing?

So, we're into the new year of 2016.  How are we doing?
For most of us reading this, it's wintertime. Cold outside and the festivities of the holidays gone by.
Some stores are already selling Valentine candy. Seems many of us need 'something' to look forward to or we become antsy, depressed, or obsessive during 'ordinary' day-to-day living. Monotony is not everyone's 'cup of tea' so to speak. Anxious folks sometimes don't do well with too much empty space in their heads - it allows for worry and fear to settle in.
But no day need be boring or monotonous enough to bring on serious negativity. There is so much we can delve into, even if they be little things.
Some suggestions:
1- Use social media for keeping in touch with friends/family and keeping up with current affairs, but also  to bring joy to others. Find uplifting quotes, humorous cartoons, inspirational excerpts from books, a moving piece of music, etc. to share. We can share our gifts too...a little happy poem, a new song, a fave recipe...using our gifts for the good of others is not only beneficial to them but to us also. We don't have to be super strong perfect people to spread smiles.
2- Browse a book store. There are countless topics of interest that can grab our attention. Maybe we can begin a new hobby or project when regular chores, job, or school are not enough to fill our needs.Or enjoy the talents we already have.
3- Become part of a 'community.' Churches are all relational in nature. People gather together. They have prayer groups, and various other programs one can partake in. Most areas have local book clubs, art clubs, bird watching clubs, even geographical clubs (pertaining to one's home town.)
4- No day is ever 'ordinary.' A friend of mine who was soon to leave the earth due to illness, said to me: "every day is a miracle." We can practice to take note of every gift a day has to offer us...a good song, a sweet scent, the cool breeze, snowflakes, that first delicious sip of coffee or tea, even the comfort of getting into bed at night under a warm blanket. It doesn't have to be one big thing to make the day. All the little things are there waiting to enrich us and be grateful for too.

5- If suffering from any anxiety disorder, including OCD, (or a bout of feeling down) it's best to treat the symptoms like the bullies they are. We can smile at them sarcastically, letting them know we are not going to be affected by any antagonizing threats, worries or blues. "Talk back' to the joy-robbing bullies, just as we would to 'real' bullies. Most of them are full of hot air. Their words and harassment are bigger than their actions. It's the same in our minds. "No way, Jose. You are not going to ruin my day!" (Or moment or hour.)
Enjoy the weekend and dare to step out and do what you want to do despite the fear, blahs, and/or anxious symptoms. And remember to read a few lines of encouragement from a self-help book, a helpful web site, and scripture. All of these are aids in warding off the inner bullies as much as possible.