Recovery Tips

Understanding OCD’s Impact During the Holidays

December 12, 2023

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The festive season can be a time of joy, family gatherings, and celebrations. But for those living with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), it can also mean heightened stress and anxiety. Understanding how OCD affects individuals during this period can help in seeking effective therapeutic interventions.

OCD and the Festive Triggers

The holiday season brings about a slew of activities and changes, from decorating homes to attending social gatherings. For someone with OCD, these new environments and routines can trigger unwanted obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors. For example, a person might fear contaminating holiday treats, leading them to repeatedly wash their hands or avoid festive foods altogether.

Evidence-Based Strategies for Managing OCD

If you or a loved one is grappling with OCD, especially during the festive season, it’s essential to know that there are proven therapeutic strategies that can help.

  1. Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP): One of the most effective treatments for OCD, ERP involves gradually exposing oneself to the fears or obsessions and then resisting or preventing the compulsion. Over time, this decreases the anxiety and breaks the OCD cycle.
  2. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT): ACT is a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy that combines mindfulness and behavioral activation. It helps individuals accept their thoughts without judgment and commit to actions that align with their values, even if anxiety and obsessions are present.

Holiday-Specific Tips for OCD Management

  • Plan Ahead: Anticipating potential triggers and having a plan to deal with them can be empowering. Whether it’s attending a party or managing holiday shopping, setting boundaries and knowing your exposure plan in advance can be helpful.
  • Seek Support: Sharing your feelings with a trusted friend or family member can provide relief. There are also numerous benefits to connecting with others who also have OCD, such as in support groups.
  • Practice Mindfulness and Engage in Values-Based Activities: Practicing mindfulness takes time and consistency; however, it is a key skill in being able to release from OCD’s pull towards either the future or the past. Engaging in values-based activities, rather than those rooted in fear or anxiety, is also a way to help cope effectively with OCD’s pull during the holidays.

In Conclusion

The holidays can be a challenging time for individuals with OCD, but with understanding and evidence-based strategies like ERP and ACT, it’s possible to navigate this season with resilience. Remember, there’s never a “right” time to start treatment. If you’re struggling, it’s important to work with someone who understands OCD, anxiety, and its treatments. 

For more information, check out my digital courses here on my website.  All courses come with a supportive, exclusive Circle community of others who are on the OCD recovery journey with you.

Resources for Your OCD and Anxiety Recovery

To learn more about OCD and anxiety recovery strategies and resources, visit my website at 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.

© 2023 Jenna Overbaugh, LLC, All Rights Reserved


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