I’m sad to see that It’s been just over a year to the day that I’ve written a full post. I have been updating social media a bit and in all honestly I was considering letting this blog go, but I’ve just read some of the comments and I’ve realised that that’s not an option so I’m back!
I started conquering OCD in 2017 when my mental health was in a pretty good state. I felt strong and as though my OCD had pretty much gone – if only I had known what was coming my way! I have been on a rough ride the last two years after a series of events ‘took me down’, so to speak. I jest and I can start to laugh about it now but I really have been to hell and back.
The upside of my ‘journey’, man I hate that word, is that I have learnt LOADS and so now I am able to share all this knowledge with you guys.
To get us started again here are four things that are helping me right now:
Exercise – I practice yoga daily as I teach – I realise this sounds a bit ‘perfect’ and I want to make it clear that I am very far from that. Sometimes a daily practice is just 5 minutes on the mat but showing up every day no matter what, tells my brain that I can do hard things. I also love box fit classes, this gives me the cardio I need but can also be quite triggering for my OCD. I quite often have to deal with intrusive thoughts of ‘what if I hit the person in front of me by mistake’ or if the face of someone I love pops into my head during a boxing sequence, OCD really is the gift that keeps giving.
I know for a lot of people it’s hard to fit the exercise in but it doesn’t have to be big workouts at the gym. It can be walking the dog or just taking the stairs instead of the lift. I’ve heard it said that exercise can be as effective as SSRI’s for mental health so it’s got to be worth a try right?
Reducing caffeine – This ones so super tough! The brain likes patterns and routine and so most of us nowadays are addicted to tea or coffee, or whatever hot beverage you enjoy. This is why I’ve put reducing rather than eliminating. If we tell the brain, you can’t have something, it’s going to get mad at you but if we just try and substitute that third cup of coffee for a hot water you might be surprised how easy it is. Most of the time I find that the brain just likes the habit of making the drink and the feeling of sipping something warm and comforting rather than the coffee itself. Hot water will tick all of those boxes, so why not give it a try? Also try not to drink caffeine too late in the day, it’ll mess with your sleep, which if you have OCD I’m guessing isn’t great already.
No TV at bedtime – You didn’t think it was going to be easy did you? This has been so hard to implement for me. I used the TV as a massive crutch for literally years to get myself to sleep but ultimately all it was doing was disturbing it. The result of stopping the TV has been that I’ve slept deeper and better. I then have more energy in the mornings and I’m more resilient when the OCD thoughts come. I find focusing on my breathing helps get me to sleep and is enough of a focus for my mind, it’s as simple as breathing in for 3 breaths and out for 6 breaths. Another option is to think of something kind you can do for someone else the next day. This takes your mind away from you and your OCD intrusive thoughts and puts it on someone else and in a positive way, hello happy hormones – which by the way help to get rid of the stress hormones, yay.
Learning to sit with uncertainty – Again stupidly hard I know. When things feel real you just want to work out the truth but ultimately your memories are made up of your memories so you’re not going to find the answers when you ruminate. To add to this when we feel worried about a situation we will only focus on the negative or ‘evidence’ in the memory and so it becomes distorted. ‘Overthinking only leads to unhappiness’, do your best to let the thoughts be.
So those are some little nuggets I’ve been working with recently. Unfortunately, there are no quick fixes when it comes to OCD. We have to be proactive in our recovery.
I hope you’re all doing well out there, remember you’re not alone!
Stay strong xxx