Recovery Tips

Mindfulness for OCD and Anxiety

March 28, 2023

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As a therapist, I have seen firsthand how practicing mindfulness can have a transformative impact on those with OCD and anxiety. Mindfulness is the practice of being present in the moment, fully aware of our thoughts, feelings, and surroundings without judgment. When applied to OCD, it can be a powerful tool in managing symptoms.

I have worked with many clients who initially struggled to find relief from their OCD symptoms through traditional therapeutic methods. They would often engage in compulsive behaviors, such as excessive hand-washing or checking, in an attempt to manage their anxiety. However, these behaviors only provided temporary relief and ultimately reinforced the cycle of OCD.

Through mindfulness practices, along with Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), my clients have been able to break this cycle. Rather than trying to control or avoid them, they learn to accept them and observe them with curiosity and non-judgment. This shift in perspective allows them to approach their OCD symptoms with a sense of curiosity.

Meditation as mindfulness for anxiety

One mindfulness practice that can be particularly helpful for those with OCD and anxiety is mindfulness meditation. This involves sitting quietly and focusing on the breath, observing any thoughts or emotions that arise without judgment. This practice can help individuals with OCD learn to observe their thoughts and urges without acting on them.  If you haven’t tried this yet, bare with me and start small.  Even just for a minute or two.  Of course, your mind is going to wander.  It will feel like monkey mind for a while there.  This is great practice for you to witness it nonjudgmentally and bring it back to the present moment on purpose.  Don’t give up after just a few minutes or few attempts.  It’s so worth it – hang in there.

Exposure for anxiety

Another practice that can be helpful is exposure. This involves intentionally exposing oneself to situations or stimuli that trigger OCD symptoms without engaging in compulsive behaviors. This practice can be challenging, but over time it can help individuals build up a tolerance to their triggers.  You just have to be sure you’re not engaging in rituals or compulsions – that’s the most important thing. 

Of course, like any form of therapy, mindfulness is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and neither is ERP. Practicing mindfulness and meditation may not be appropriate for everyone, and it may not be effective on its own, especially for OCD. However, when used in conjunction with other evidence-based therapies, such as ERP mindfulness can be a powerful tool in managing OCD symptoms.

As a therapist, I have seen how mindfulness can help individuals with anxiety develop a greater sense of self-awareness and self-acceptance, which can be transformative for their overall well-being. It is not about trying to eliminate or control one’s thoughts and feelings, but rather learning to live with them in a way that is not driven by fear or compulsion. By cultivating mindfulness, individuals with OCD can learn to approach their symptoms with a sense of calm and clarity, rather than feeling overwhelmed and powerless.

If you need some more to chew on as it relates to this, be sure to listen to my podcast called “All The Hard Things”, available wherever you get your podcasts. With over 120 episodes at this point, you’ll most definitely find something right up your alley.

I hope this serves you. <3 Til next time, keep doing all the hard things!

– Jenna 

PS: If you need a crash course in ERP, click HERE to check out my masterclass.  I’ll go over all you need to know about exposures, response prevention, and how and why it works.  You’ll walk away with practical tips and strategies to use to start getting your life back – with or without a therapist. 

Remember: this post is for informational purposes only and may not be the best fit for you and your personal situation. It shall not be construed as mental health or medical advice. The information and education provided here is not intended or implied to supplement or replace professional advice of your own professional mental health or medical treatment, advice, and/or diagnosis. Always check with your own physician or medical or mental health professional before trying or implementing any information read here.

© 2023 Jenna Overbaugh, LLC

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