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How To Reduce Compulsive Behaviour And Break The Cycle In 11 Steps

Want to know how to reduce compulsive behaviour?? Here are 11 tips to help you break the cycle.




Compulsive Behaviour



Compulsive behaviour is when a person feels compelled to do a particular action repeatedly. This may be checking that the iron or the stove is off, repeating routine activities, checking that the door is locked or cleaning due to a fear of germs.


As a counsellor I have seen many cases of compulsive behaviour.? Whilst these actions may seem harmless they can cause significant distress and if continued to the extreme can have adverse consequences and can be a symptom of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).


This post is about compulsive behaviour and you are going to learn about compulsion behaviour triggers, obsessive thoughts, cognitive distortions, developing a plan and more.


After learning about all these tips on compulsive behaviour you are going to be able to devise a plan to alter this behaviour.


This post is about compulsive behaviour and will teach you how to regain control over those unwanted behaviours.


Best compulsive behaviour strategies


1. Triggers

Think about when these compulsive behaviours began.? Was there a particular thing that brought on a great deal of stress?? Maybe life events that caused anxiety or long term stress? Was there trauma from death of a loved one or a relationship break up?? Did you start a new job or lose a job?? Have you just had a baby? The trigger is the thing that directed your attention to the compulsive behaviour.



2. Obsessive thoughts

Everyone at some stage in their life has had unwanted thoughts. But thinking about something doesn?t necessarily make it reality. It simply is our interpretation of that thought.? Journaling can help you explore these feelings and thoughts and help decide the probability of that thought being reality.

Here are a few questions to start you off. What are you concerned about? What clues tell you that this concern will not come true? If this concern does not come true then what do you think may happen instead? What would you do if this concern did come true? Will you eventually be alright?? Is there any evidence to support this concern? Is there evidence against this concern? Am I basing my concern on my thoughts, feelings or facts? Is this a likely scenario or outcome or am I basing it on the worst scenario outcome?



3. Riding the wave

Compulsive behaviour and OCD comes in waves. Think about a surfer riding a wave.? There will be times when the urges to do a particular action or behaviour are strong and may cause anxiousness and other times you will feel calmer and more in control.

To surf the urge follow these steps: * Identify the physical sensation in your body. Sit quietly and tune in to where in your body you are specifically being affected.? Is it your stomach? Your mouth? Your chest? Etc. * Now think about what sensations you are feeling from this. Do you feel pain anywhere? Do you feel light headed? * Focus on your breathing.? For a couple of minutes notice what your breathing pattern is like. Try to inhale slowly through your nose and exhale out your mouth. * How is the body feeling now? The part that was feeling the urge ? does it feel different? * When feeling like this again imagine the wave and know that you will reach a peak of a wave but then breathe your way back down to the bottom.


Riding the wave - Compulsive Behaviour


4. Unhooking

Sometimes our thoughts consume us so much that we become lost in what is fact and fiction. We?re constantly becoming hooked on our thoughts, feelings and beliefs which can not only makes us feel like we?re having an anxiety attack but add more stress to our lives.? But you can help your self. Here are some unhooking techniques to separate you from those thoughts.? * Look up at the sky.? Imagine the sky is your mind and the clouds are your thoughts.? Imagine your thoughts floating on by.? They?re not staying they are just passing by. * Think of a stream. This time the stream is your mind.? Place a leaf on the stream.? This is your thought.? Let this thought float on by watching it going over the ripples in the water and eventually moving out of sight.

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5. Distress tolerance skills

When feeling the urge to go through with the compulsive behaviour you can feel out of control and anxious. Distress tolerance aims to help you distract yourself from those thoughts and feeling. Eventually the more you do this and don?t give in to the compulsion ? the less the anxiety becomes.

Here is a technique you could use. * Look around you.? What colours and textures do you see? * Listen.? What can you hear? Your breathing? Birds chirping? * Touch.? What can you feel? Can you feel the breeze? The heat? * Taste.? Try a piece of food and really focus on what it tastes like. * Smell.? Can you smell the a perfume? Essential oils? The salty ocean?? This self-soothing technique helps to ground you by using your senses.


6. Develop a plan to alleviate triggers

Once you have identified your triggers write down an action plan.? What triggers the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder? Once triggered what will be your next step? Will you try unhooking your thoughts? Will you engage in a grounding exercise and distract yourself from these thoughts? Become self aware of your thoughts and feelings and keep an action plan in your bag, car, home etc so you know exactly what to do when that urge arises.


7. Cognitive Distortions

A cognitive distortion is where thoughts are perceived inaccurately.? For example you see your friend across the street and you think they?ve seen you but have ignored you. So you decide not to talk to her anymore. But the reality is your friend is distracted as she?s so worried about her sick Mum in hospital and didn?t see you at all.? Think about what evidence there is that this thought is actually true. A thought record can help with cognitive restructuring. Think about the situation. What led to that negative emotion or behaviour? Focus on just the facts. Then think about your thoughts.? What were you telling yourself? Emotions. How did you feel during this experience? Behaviours. How did you respond to the situation? Alternate thought. What is a different thought you could have had?? In the earlier example ? your friend across the street could have simply been so busy rushing around that she didn?t look in your direction so failed to see you.


8. Self-awareness

Learn to become aware of your thoughts and emotions so when they start impacting your life you can stop yourself from going down that rabbit hole of negativity and destruction.? Having self knowledge of what you?re going to do when that thought hits you will help keep you out of that rabbit hole. Remember the sky as your mind and the clouds as your thoughts.? They are simply passing through and do not need judgement.


9. Flexible thinking

Flexible thinking allows us to think of things in different or new ways and can help us think of solutions rather than being stuck in the problem or situation.? Finding a creative outlet whether it be painting, music, writing etc can help you to develop mental flexibility as there are no boundaries and you have limited control over it.

Another way to build flexible thinking is through learning.? Learn something new about the world around us.? Find the incredible information out there available. This can help put a perspective on the obsession and fill your mind with more than the boundaries of the obsession.


10. Exercise

Exercise can be used as part of your plan to overcome the compulsive behaviour.? Regular exercise can help reduce anxiety and depression, stabalize your mood and help you sleep better.? Exercise can relieve those urges and give you confidence in breaking the cycle.? Try weight training and cardio and see what works best for you. It?s important to create a routine and schedule that you can stick to and over time you will feel stronger, healthier and it will boost your self-esteem.


Cycling - compulsive behaviour



11. Talk to a counsellor

Finally if you have tried all of these things and still not getting any relief then it may be time to talk to a counsellor or your doctor.? They can guide you through a program or treatment specifically for you and can determine if they think you may need medication.


This post was all about Compulsive behaviour and the steps that you can take to break the cycle.


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