OCD and the Holidays

Whether or not you actually have a diagnosis of OCD, you may be filled with expectations for the holidays that are unrealistic. My personal take on this phenomena is that public media (television) for over 75 years has depicted the holidays for us, and most of us were raised with these images, thinking that the holidays look glowing, fancy, expert, prepared, complete, overwhelming, and that if we do not have all this fanciness, then we are part of the poor, down-trodden folks that Christmas serves.

Not a very ennobling picture.

With OCD, people have intrusive thoughts (obsessive) and then are driven to complete actions (compulsions) to quiet the anxiety. However, this presents a cycle of obsessing and compulsive behaviors that does not quit - because the anxiety is only quieted for a short time, then the thoughts come back.

And many times the obsessive thoughts change, so they are sneaky like that. You think you have dashed out one anxiety-provoking thought, and another one will pop up in its place. Christmastime can increase these thoughts and compulsions because of the expectations we may have been raised with.  

To help quiet these thoughts, my best advice is to look at your time in a more realistic manner. What do you do with your time right now? Is there really that much extra time that you have in your current schedule to accomplish all these feats of Christmas fanciness? Look at your time and abilities realistically. Accept your realistic time and abilities. You are human. You can only do what you can do without stressing your body, leading to immune system breakdown and leading to illness. Resolve to stay healthy as you celebrate the holidays.

Prioritize what you want most out of the holiday celebrations that will keep you healthy - and joyful. What do you want to give? What do you want to get? Make it healthy. Make it warm. Make it joyful. Stay mindful in the moment of how you are feeling and others around you. Enjoy the small moments of peace.  

Stay well folks,

Kathy Bruner, LCMHC
Clinical Director, Mt. Grove Counseling


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