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7 Daily Habits to Combat Depression While Managing Your OCD: A Guest Blog by Leeor Gal

December 5, 2023

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Hi! My name is Leeor Gal, I’m a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and the group practice owner of The Therapy Gal. I wanted to write this article because I’ve noticed many of my clients struggling with these symptoms and looking for solutions. While working with them, I realized that I can also help so many more people!

In this article, I’ll do my best to help you navigate this tricky terrain with a down-to-earth guide. I’ll introduce you to some daily habits that are not only a breeze to incorporate into your routine but are also aimed at giving your mental health a much-needed boost. These habits are like little life hacks designed to help you battle depression while you continue to deal with your OCD.

I get it – clarity is key when it comes to understanding all of this. My goal is to dish out straightforward, no-nonsense steps that you can easily grasp and put into practice in your everyday life. So, whether you’re dealing with OCD, depression, or both, these habits are totally doable. Let’s embark on the journey to better mental health, one habit at a time. 

Understanding the Link Between OCD and Depression

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, known as OCD, is characterized by intrusive and persistent thoughts that can spiral into a maze of compulsive behaviors. This repetitive cycle aims to alleviate the distress and anxiety triggered by these thoughts. However, this ongoing struggle can gradually take a toll on your emotional well-being.

Examples of the Emotional Turmoil

Let’s take a closer look at how OCD’s demands can lead to feelings of sadness and hopelessness. Imagine someone who can’t stop checking if the stove is turned off. The fear of a possible fire is that nagging thought, and the constant checking is their way of dealing with it. Over time, this loop of actions and fears can weigh you down with sadness and make you feel like you’re stuck in a never-ending loop of despair.

Now, why is all of this important? Because understanding this connection is like having a map to help you find your way out of the maze. It’s like knowing the secrets of the game. And with this understanding, we’ll explore some daily habits that can help you break free from this cycle and make life better for those dealing with both OCD and depression

Habit #1: Start Your Day Mindfully

The first habit is all about embracing the power of mindfulness as you start your day. This practice helps anchor you in the present, shedding the weight of past concerns and future worries. For those dealing with OCD, starting your day mindfully can create a mental sanctuary less susceptible to anxiety and depression.

Mindfulness Exercises for a Calm Start

Breathing Exercises – Begin your day with deep, intentional breaths. Inhale slowly, feeling your chest rise, and exhale, letting go of tension. Repeat this several times to center yourself.

Body Scan – Lie or sit comfortably and bring your attention to each part of your body, starting from your toes and working your way up to your head. This practice can help you release physical tension and stay present.

Morning Journaling – Write down your thoughts, feelings, and intentions for the day. This can help you clear your mind and set a positive tone.

Gratitude Meditation – Reflect on the things you are grateful for. This practice fosters a positive mindset from the beginning.

Habit #2: Monitor and Challenge Negative Thoughts

Negative thoughts can be pervasive and overwhelming, especially for those of us dealing with OCD. They can fuel obsessive thinking and compulsive behaviors, creating a cycle that intensifies anxiety. In depression, persistent negative thoughts contribute to feelings of despair and hopelessness.

Tips for Identifying and Altering Negative Thoughts

Journaling – Keep a thought journal to record your thoughts and the emotions they trigger. This can help you identify recurring patterns. (I know we already mentioned journaling but it is SOOO important).

Cognitive Behavioral Techniques – Learn about cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and apply its principles to challenge and reframe negative thoughts. Replace irrational beliefs with more rational and positive alternatives.

Mindfulness Meditation – Practice mindfulness to observe your thoughts without judgment. This can help you detach from the emotional charge of negative thoughts.

Self-Compassion – Treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding you would offer a friend. This self-compassion can counteract self-criticism and negativity.

Seek Professional Help – If negative thoughts persist and significantly impact your daily life, consider consulting a mental health professional. They can provide guidance and therapeutic interventions.

Habit #3: Maintain Healthy Sleep Patterns

Getting quality sleep was always something that I always struggled with. It seemed like the second my head hit the pillow, my thoughts would run wild. The thing is, Quality sleep is not a luxury; it’s a necessity for maintaining good mental health. Depression can bring about irregular sleep patterns, including insomnia or excessive sleep. These sleep disruptions can, in turn, worsen the symptoms of OCD and depression. Here are some things that have helped me!

Guidance on Healthy Sleep Habits

Consistent Sleep Schedule – Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. Consistency helps regulate your body’s internal clock.

Create a Relaxing Bedtime Routine – Engage in calming activities before bed, such as reading, meditation, or gentle stretching. Avoid stimulating activities, like screen time, in the hour before sleep.

Optimize Your Sleep Environment – Ensure your bedroom is conducive to sleep. This includes a comfortable mattress and pillows, a dark and quiet room, and a cool temperature.

Limit Caffeine and Alcohol – Reduce or eliminate caffeine and alcohol intake, particularly in the evening. These substances can interfere with sleep.

Physical Activity – Engage in regular physical activity, but try to complete your exercise routine at least a few hours before bedtime.

Manage Stress – Practice stress-reduction techniques, such as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation, to calm your mind before sleep.

Habit #4: Set Realistic Goals

Living with OCD and depression can sometimes feel like an uphill battle. Setting achievable goals can be a vital tool for regaining a sense of control, boosting self-esteem, and reducing feelings of overwhelm. It’s important to remember that small victories count and can have a significant impact on your well-being.

Strategies for Goal Setting

Identify Priorities – Determine what matters most to you in your daily life and focus on those areas. It could be related to your work, relationships, or self-improvement.

SMART Goals – Use the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) framework to structure your goals. This ensures they are clear, feasible, and motivating.

Break Tasks Down – Divide larger goals into smaller, manageable steps. This makes the path to achievement less daunting and more attainable.

Celebrate Progress – Acknowledge and celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how small. This positive reinforcement can motivate you to keep moving forward.

Adapt and Adjust – Be open to adjusting your goals if circumstances change. Flexibility is key to long-term success.

Habit #5: Connect with Supportive Networks

Now, let’s talk about the importance of connecting with supportive networks. Dealing with depression and OCD can often lead people to feel isolated.

Having a supportive network by your side can provide a lifeline of understanding, empathy, and a comforting sense of belonging. Sharing your journey with others who’ve walked a similar path can be profoundly reassuring and, in many ways, a source of strength. So, don’t underestimate the power of building these connections.

Ways to Connect with Supportive Networks

Family and Friends – Share your experiences and feelings with loved ones. Their support and encouragement can make a world of difference.

Support Groups – Consider joining a local or online support group dedicated to OCD or depression. These groups provide a platform for sharing and learning from others who understand your struggles.

Therapy and Counseling – Seek professional help through therapy or counseling. A trained therapist can offer guidance and a safe space for discussing your challenges.

Online Communities – Many online forums and social media groups are dedicated to mental health discussions. Engaging in these communities can provide a sense of connection and understanding.

Community Resources – Explore local mental health resources or community organizations that offer support for those dealing with OCD or depression.

Habit #6: Physical Activity for Emotional Well-Being

Now, let’s focus on our sixth habit, which involves the power of exercise for emotional well-being. I know, I know…pausing that episode of Love is Blind and going outside for a walk can sometimes feel like an impossible task. But regular physical activity isn’t just good for the body; it directly impacts your mood and emotional health.

For individuals navigating the challenges of OCD and depression, exercise can serve as a valuable tool. It’s like a natural mood lifter, helping to reduce anxiety, alleviate depressive symptoms, and providing a sense of mastery over your physical and mental well-being.

Practical Ways to Incorporate Exercise

Start Small – If you’re new to exercise or have been inactive, begin with gentle activities like walking or stretching. Gradually increase the intensity and duration as your fitness level improves.

Find Enjoyment – Choose physical activities that you genuinely enjoy. Whether it’s dancing, swimming, hiking, or playing a sport, finding joy in your exercise routine can enhance motivation.

Consistency is Key – Aim for regular exercise. A daily or weekly routine can provide a sense of structure and help you stay committed to the habit.

Social Connection – Exercise with a friend or join a group class. The social aspect can provide motivation and a sense of community.

Mindful Movement – Practice mindfulness while exercising. Focus on the sensations in your body and the rhythm of your breath. This can enhance the mental benefits of physical activity.

Habit #7: Embrace Creative Outlets

The last habit on the list is all about the therapeutic power of creative outlets. Engaging in creative activities is like having a blank canvas for your emotions and thoughts. It’s a unique space where you can take what’s inside, bring it out, and give it a form. This process allows you to explore your feelings and produce something that holds personal meaning.

Encouragement to Engage in Creative Activities

Choose Your Medium – Find a creative medium that resonates with you. It could be visual arts, music, writing, or any other form of creative expression. Experiment until you discover what truly speaks to your soul.

Set Realistic Expectations – Remember that the goal of creative outlets is not perfection but personal expression. Don’t be overly critical of your work; instead, focus on the process and the emotional release it provides.

Create a Safe Space – Designate a space where you can immerse yourself in your creative endeavors. This environment should be free from judgment and conducive to your creative flow.

Consistency Matters – Try to engage in your chosen creative activity regularly, even if it’s for a short period. Consistency can foster a sense of routine and emotional stability.

Share Your Work – If you feel comfortable, consider sharing your creative expressions with others. It can be a way to connect with like-minded individuals and gain support.

Hi! I’m Leeor. I’m a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and the owner of the group practice, The Therapy Gal! I love creating relatable and funny mental health content on both TikTok (@thetherapygal) and Instagram(@the_therapy_gal), and you can always catch me snuggling with my dog! If you’re in PA or NJ and are interested in therapy, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. 🙂

Resources for Your OCD and Anxiety Recovery

To learn more about OCD and anxiety recovery strategies and resources, visit my website at www.jennaoverbaughlpc.com. Here you can find additional support and guidance.

Want more content like this? Check out some of my related podcasts and The OCD and Anxiety Recovery Blueprint below.

DISCLAIMER: Please keep in mind that Jenna is not your therapist. She does not provide you with individualized recommendations or advice. The information provided is intended as educational information only. Jenna cannot tell you what you should do, what you shouldn’t do, or give recommendations based on your unique situations or circumstances. Nothing on this page or Site should be construed as therapeutic recommendation or personalized advice.

If you are in need of such services, please consult with a physician or other medical provider right away to determine the best course of action for you. We are not responsible for your use of this page, this website, or the contents within. NEVER DISREGARD PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ADVICE OR DELAY SEEKING MEDICAL TREATMENT BECAUSE OF SOMETHING YOU READ OR ACCESSED THROUGH THIS WEBSITE AND CONTENT. For more information, please read the Terms and Conditions, Privacy Policy, and Disclaimer. Your continued use of this platform, this page, and the contents within constitutes as your agreement with this agreement.


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i need this stat!

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"Imagine  Your Recovered Life" instant download PDF

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