Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is an anxiety disorder that causes obsessive thoughts which may lead to ritualistic behaviors. For example, if your obsessive thoughts revolve around the stove and whether or not it got turned off, you may develop a ritual that involves checking all the knobs on the stove. Since rituals give you temporary relief from anxiety, you may start repeating them over and over. Soon you may be checking the stove 20 or 30 times a day to the point that it starts to interfere with your life.
It can be difficult to stop ritualistic behaviors all at once. Instead of trying to stop the behavior cold turkey, seek to take control of the behavior first. Following are three small steps you can take to start changing your OCD behaviors.
Change Your Ritual
If you can't seem to break free from a ritual, try to change it up a bit. For example, if you count as part of your ritual, change the numbers and repetitions that you go through during the ritual. By changing aspects of your ritual, you can break the powerful hold that the ritual has over you, which will make it easier to stop doing it later on.
Postpone Your Ritual
If you start to obsess or participate in ritualistic behavior, try to stop the behavior for the moment. Give yourself a time that you can come back and repeat it. It doesn't have to be long at first. You can start with a minute or two. Each time you turn to the ritualistic behavior to reduce your anxiety, postpone it for a longer period of time. In time, you will notice that you're able to go for longer periods of time without participating in the behavior. This will help you learn to control, put off, or stop ritualistic behaviors.
Set Ritual Consequences
Establish consequences for your rituals that have nothing to do with the ritual itself. For example, if your ritual involves checking the front door a set amount of times to make sure it's locked before you leave for work, you can establish a consequence where you are fined $10 for each day that you perform the ritual before you leave the house.
Sometimes it's too hard to stop engaging in ritualistic behaviors all at once. If you can learn to take control of a small aspect of your behavior, however, you will gain power over your rituals, which will make it easier for you to break free from them later on.
For more information, contact a professional like those found at Lincoln Psychiatric Group.