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Managing OCD amid Coronvirus

by Kit – 23rd Mar 2020

Right now, everywhere we look, we’re confronted with a seemingly never-ending stream of information on the global Coronavirus crisis – it’s almost impossible to escape. For those of us living with an anxiety disorder like Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), the constant reminders to wash our hands and self-isolate to protect our loved ones and others around us can be difficult. While OCD isn’t just confined to the fear of germs, any of the obsessive or intrusive thoughts may be triggered once again, or to an even greater extreme, by the stress and panic which surrounds Covid-19.

laptop, strawberries and a book that says 'one line a day' on the cover

Here is a list of things I’ve found helpful for those who might be having a hard time:

  • Try to stick to a routine

Being thrown off your usual routine can often be a big contributor to increased anxiety, so recreate your routine as best as you can at home. Whether this simply means eating lunch at the same time every day or sticking to a set bedtime, feeling a sense of control can be both a relief and comfort.

  • Make time for something you love

Whether it’s re-watching your favourite show, baking, drawing or anything else, it’s important to make time for doing something you love, or, when boredom strikes (which, it probably will at some point) maybe even try something new. Just, make sure you don’t completely forget about school or university work!

  • Try to steer clear of mindless social media scrolling

Easier said than done, right? But I’ve found that while scrolling through Instagram, all I see are hand-washing memes and even random ads about the precautions we should be taking. At this point, most of us know the facts, but the constant regurgitation risks triggering intrusive thoughts which are no fun at all.

  • Keep in touch with loved ones

If you’re finding it increasingly difficult to resist the compulsions which come with intrusive thoughts, a simple chat can be a big help and a necessary distraction!

  • Refer yourself to old behavioural therapy techniques

If you received, or are currently in therapy and keep a record of your CBT, it is useful to revisit old exposure and response therapy practices, or perhaps a relapse prevention blueprint. Personally, at different points over the past few years, these have helped remind me, whenever I find myself struggling, about the past therapy practices which worked for me, but, probably as important, how far I’ve come and the progress I’ve made. This last one might just work for you, too, and be the push to keep you going right now.

More on how to manage anxiety.

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