Talking Coping Skills with Dr. Jan Weiner

What Healthy Habits Can Combat Intrusive Thoughts and OCD?

Written by Lauren O'Shaughnessy

01 Dr. Jan Weiner is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist practicing in the Murray Hill neighborhood of New York City.

02 In this video, she discusses OCD remedies outside of traditional therapy and medication. For more info on Dr. Weiner, please visit: https://www.drjanweiner.com/

03 OCD3 is a web series that brings professional perspectives to the OCD community so sufferers can make healthy decisions and lead better lives.

OCD3: Coping Skills

Read the full transcript below:

1) What if I can’t access therapy or medication?

Aside from therapy and medication, one thing people can do is try to reduce the general stress level in their lives. Whether that’s knowing when you’re overworking yourself, getting the proper sleep, or keeping toxic people in your life at bay, general stress reduction is the goal. Once your stress levels go up, you tend to default into the OCD. Anything could trigger that OCD and having a baseline level for your stress is crucial. If you can keep that stress at a lower threshold it may decrease the frequency of your spiking.

2) How does mindfulness help?

Mindfulness is a technique that is very useful for decreasing anxiety and allowing the acceptance of one's thoughts. Mindfulness principles state that we don’t have control over our thinking patterns, and when a thought comes into your head, you just watch it. You let it exist and observe that thought, but you don’t try to judge the thought. You don’t try to change the thought, you don’t try to make it go away. You allow its presence and let it be there with you until it chooses to leave, versus you saying or thinking it should or shouldn’t be there.

3) How can exercise help?

Exercise can be very helpful in terms stress reduction and decreasing outside aspects of the OCD. Studies have shown that exercise boosts serotonin levels and can have almost a meditative effect on the brain.

Eating well, exercising, getting enough sleep — they all play into one another. Clients often come in and say that they haven’t been sleeping well and that they’ve been spiking because of their disrupted sleep. If you can keep consistencies in those avenues of your life, general stress will decrease.

4) What about alcohol and recreational drugs?

Alcohol and other recreational drugs can trigger anxiety and spikes so avoiding those as much as possible is beneficial. Even though alcohol seems to decrease your anxiety symptoms, when it leaves your system it will cause an uptick in those symptoms. Minimizing personal use of alcohol or other recreational drugs in general can be helpful in decreasing your anxiety.

General decatastrophizing — not catastrophizing other events in your life — is also important. If things come up in the workplace or in school, try changing your language so that it’s more tempered Instead of saying, “this is awful, this is terrible. I can’t stand it” change your language to be “this is challenging, this is difficult but I can get through it.” Coping language can naturally train your brain to not go to those anxious places.

For more videos from our OCD3 series, head to our YouTube channel here.

About the author

Lauren is cofounder and director of content at the Made of Millions Foundation. She has been a part of the team since its launch in 2016. She has been open about her personal struggles with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and social phobia. You can follow her on Instagram at www.instagram.com/internet_lauren

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