OCD and Holiday Stress

Posted by Phil Cardenas on Dec 10, 2013

The holiday season can be a time of joy and relaxation with time off,  parties, and reunions with friends and family. But the bustle and clutter of the holidays can also bring stress, and OCD sufferers and their loved ones need to anticipate triggering situations and take steps to deal with them.

A good place to start is by approaching the season with a realistic assessment of the issues that may need to be faced. Look at situations that might trigger the disorder and try to plan around them if you can. If you can’t, be prepared to deal with them. The goal isn’t perfection, it’s to make the best of things and enjoy them to the greatest extent possible. 

It’s rare to go through the holidays without some sort of stress. Routines are disrupted, other people and circumstances intrude on your plans and expectations. Rather than allowing the stress to trigger OCD behaviors, try to accept it as normal and “roll with the punches” as best you can. Focus on the positives while being realistic in your ability to cope with different situations, and limit your exposure to events and places you know will be difficult to deal with if possible.

There may be times when stress and triggers are unavoidable. The need to travel or be in public places can create a “trigger-rich” environment. Depending on how the disorder manifests itself, there may be issues with using public facilities or unfamiliar food or any number of situations that take you out of your “comfort zone.” Here again, acceptance of the situation is your first line of defense.

Don’t feel like you have to face holiday stress alone. Frank discussions with your loved ones lets them become part of your support team. Your therapist is a valuable resource when facing challenges, too. Let them know what’s on your holiday schedule and what about it concerns you. They understand the clinical conditions that are unique to your situation and can offer insights and coping mechanisms for you to use when OCD intrudes on your holiday activities.

Beyond OCD is a non-profit organization that exists to help OCD sufferers and their loved ones develop the knowledge and skills that can result in better lives for everyone involved. The website BeyondOCD.org has numerous online resources for understanding, treating, and coping with OCD.

Taking positive steps toward dealing with your OCD during the holidays is a gift you can give yourself and those who care about you. It’s important for you to know that you’re not alone in your struggles with OCD.

To learn more about OCD and its treatment, visit BeyondOCD.org. It’s there to help you get the information you need to go beyond OCD.



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