Most people look forward to the holiday season – the parties, traveling to see friends and family, and the food. So it’s easy to forget that, for some, the holidays herald a period of the year full of emotional triggers and stress.
That’s especially true for those with OCD.
The holidays present people struggling with OCD with a unique set of challenges. OCD makes it difficult for them to fully immerse themselves in the spirit of the season, relax, and enjoy time with loved ones. Some common concerns OCD sufferers experience include:
- Worrying about candles, decorations, or appliances being left on
- Getting fired for taking time off
- The house being robbed or catching fire while away
- Anxiety about mess, clutter, and chaos of house guests
- Having a panic attack while traveling (i.e. on a crowded bus or plane)
- Access to a clean bathroom at parties or when traveling
- Getting sick from food at holiday parties
- Contaminating food and making other sick
- Creating perfect holiday memories
- Giving each person a thoughtful gift
OCD doesn’t have to hijack the holidays, though.
Remember to do the things that support your mental health, such as maintaining your regular sleep, eating, and exercise habits. Staying out late at parties and being dehydrated from a hangover leave you more susceptible to stress and anxiety which can trigger OCD.
Don’t isolate yourself.
It can be tempting to hide yourself away at home if the holidays trigger or worsen your symptoms of OCD. Like with any mental health condition, having social support is an important piece of recovery. Say yes to that invitation and reach out to a supportive friend or family member that can help you formulate a plan and hold you accountable for attending. Another option is to join a local support group of others with OCD, too.
Keep up with your treatment.
It’s easy to skip therapy appointments when there are so many demands on your time during the holidays. But recommitting to your ERP treatment during this busy time of year can stop your symptoms from worsening. Plus, your therapist can help you address and face some of your worries so they interfere less with your enjoyment of the holidays.
Practice your coping skills.
If you’re in therapy, your therapist has probably taught you coping skills to manage your anxiety. Well, now is the time to put those strategies into practice. If you have a hard time remembering these things when you need them, work together with your therapist to come up with a plan that helps you remember and meets your goals.
It’s easy to get caught up in what’s not going well in life. Refocusing on your accomplishments and personal growth can improve your overall state of mind. Taking a little time each day for mindfulness, meditation, or gratitude and self-compassion exercises can go a long way.
Hopefully, these tips have reminded you of things you can do if and when OCD symptoms worsen during the holiday season. If you feel that you may need additional support so you can finally start to enjoy the holidays, then call us at (305) 501-0133 or click here to schedule a free 20-minute Clarity Consult .