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Coping with OCD during COVID-19

May 02, 2020
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Living with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is challenging under normal circumstances, but add a global pandemic to the mix and the condition can become debilitating.

If you happen to be one of the over 2 million Americans are affected by OCD and your compulsions revolve around cleanliness and germs, you may feel like you’re living your worst nightmare. But if you take a step back, you make come to realize you’re better prepared to handle this moment in history than you think.

Take comfort by taking control

Right now, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and media are encouraging the public to take extra precautions and adopt new habits related to frequent handwashing and home sanitizing. While this is an unwelcome change of routine for many, there’s a good chance you’re already ahead of the game in this respect and far more in control of your well-being than others.

Depending upon your routines, you may not need to make any changes to your daily patterns. If your habits are in line with CDC recommendations, keep with them. There is no need to turn up the volume, so to speak. If you’re following the guidelines, you’ve got it under control.

You can further keep control by maintaining other life routines not impacted by social distancing. Make an effort to maintain your usual sleep, eating, and, if possible, exercise routines. While many aspects of our daily lives are being disrupted, holding tight to these routines can contribute to your overall sense of a comfort and control.

Minimize uncertainty

It’s virtually impossible to avoid news of COVID-19 on any media source. Competing statistics and research, uncertainty regarding how long quarantine will last, and just overall noise related to the virus can be confusing and overwhelming.

Make a point of scheduling and limiting your daily media consumption to avoid spiraling into uncertainty. Choose one or two trusted news sources (such as the CDC or the World Health Organization) and engage for no more than an hour a day.

Find the support you need

While you may be self-isolating, you do not have to go this challenging time alone.

Reach out to trusted friends and loved ones. Use technology, such as FaceTime, Skype, Zoom meeting, and Google Hangouts, to connect and see and hear familiar faces and voices.

For support specific to OCD, you may want to check out online and phone support groups. By connecting with others who are dealing with the same issues as you can be helpful in lessening your anxiety and any sense of isolation you may be feeling.

If you at any time you feel your compulsions are increasing, reach out to your doctor or mental health professional for guidance on what steps to take next. If you don’t have a doctor, find a Baystate provider or visit The International OCD Foundation for more information.

Keep calm and keep perspective

It’s easy to feel like this “new normal” will never end but you must trust that it will. It may take longer than we’d like or even longer than experts currently predict, but it will pass.

Until then, take pride and comfort in knowing that you’re doing your part to protect yourself and others around you by taking proper precautions and carrying on with your life. Every day is one day closer to the end of this chapter in history. See you on the other side.

Read more about self care and managing stress and anxiety.