Obsessive-compulsive disorder is all about fear; fear of bad things happening beyond our control, fear of our own thoughts and actions; even fear of ridding ourselves of OCD.
Fear is unhealthy. It can make life miserable. And whether or not you know that the fear is irrational, it’s still there, producing the same stress hormones that fear of real-life emergencies creates.
As you diminish your OCD symptoms, the fear diminishes, and your quality of life improves. In the meantime, here are some simple steps you can take right now to ease yourself out of fear.
The first thing to do is to focus your awareness on your breath. Instead of trying to control your breathing, just observe it. Notice the depth or shallowness of your breath, the speed of it, the feel of the air coming in and out of your nose or mouth and entering and exiting your lungs. This is a grounding technique that is always at your disposal. That is, you are always breathing, you don’t need to go any place special or learn anything complex–just watch your own breathing as you calm down.
If you are experiencing a panic attack, then along with noticing your breath, it’s helpful to be aware of your environment. Is the air cold or warm against your skin? What sounds do you hear in and outside the room and in your own body (such as your breath)? Identify the object around you. Ask yourself how many green, yellow or blue objects you can see in the room. This brings you back to reality, to the present environment.
A next step can be to go out into nature. I love to see flowing water. It reminds me that life goes on, regardless of the current circumstances of my own life. Life continues and will continue to flow. This is reassuring.
While outside, you might try walking barefoot in the grass. Physically touching a tree or the earth grounds you electrically as well as spiritually. Some people find it grounding to stomp their feet.
Another simple technique you can do is to identify where the fear manifests physically in your body. Is your heart palpitating? Do you feel a pit in your stomach? Or is it all-encompassing throughout your body? Wherever you feel the sensation of fear, sit quietly, eyes closed if you feel safe enough…