Monday, July 7, 2014

OCD and Easing Emotional Pain

Emotional pain comes in many forms. Most people have felt emotional pain at least once in their lives, and know that it can sometimes be worse than physical pain. People with OCD and the related disorders often live in a world of emotional turbulence, which can eventually take a huge toll on their health, personal relationships, work performance, and over all enjoyment of life. Depression, fear, guilt and anger are often sources of mental pain.

On the website of Dr. Joseph Mercola, I found some great advice in dealing with emotional pain...

"Emotional pain often exacts a greater toll on your quality of life than physical pain. The stress and negative emotions associated with any trying event can even lead to physical pain and disease.

In fact, emotional stress is linked to health problems including chronic inflammation, lowered immune function, increased blood pressure, altered brain chemistry, increased tumor growth and more.

Of course, emotional pain can be so severe that it interferes with your ability to enjoy life and, in extreme cases, may even make you question whether your life is worth living.

5 Tips for Healing Emotional Pain

Guy Winch, author of Emotional First Aid: Practical Strategies for Treating Failure, Rejection, Guilt and Other Everyday Psychological Injuries, recently shared five tips for healing your emotional pain.

1. Let Go of Rejection

Rejection actually activates the same pathways in your brain as physical pain, which is one reason why it hurts so much. The feeling of rejection toys with your innate need to belong, and is so distressing that it interferes with your ability to think, recall memories and make decisions. The sooner you let go of painful rejections, the better off your mental health will be.

2. Avoid Ruminating

When you ruminate, or brood, over a past hurt, the memories you replay in your mind only become increasingly distressing and cause more anger – without providing any new insights. In other words, while reflecting on a painful event can help you to reach an understanding or closure about it, ruminating simply increases your stress levels, and can actually be addictive.

Ruminating on a stressful incident can also increase your levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation in your body linked to cardiovascular disease.1

3. Turn Failure Into Something Positive

If you allow yourself to feel helpless after a failure, or blame it on your lack of ability or bad luck, it’s likely to lower your self-esteem. Blaming a failure on specific factors within your control, such as planning and execution, is likely to be less damaging, but even better is focusing on ways you can improve and be better informed or prepared so you can succeed next time (and try again, so there is a next time).

4. Make Sure Guilt Remains a Useful Emotion

Guilt can be beneficial in that it can stop you from doing something that may harm another person (making it a strong "relationship protector"). But guilt that lingers or is excessive can impair your ability to focus and enjoy life.

If you still feel guilty after apologizing for a wrongdoing, be sure you have expressed empathy toward them and conveyed that you understand how your actions impacted them. This will likely lead to authentic forgiveness and relief of your guilty feelings.

5. Use Self-Affirmations if You Have Low Self-Esteem

While positive affirmations are excellent tools for emotional health, if they fall outside the boundaries of your beliefs, they may be ineffective. This may be the case for people with low self-esteem, for whom self-affirmations may be more useful. Self-affirmations, such as “I have a great work ethic,” can help to reinforce positive qualities you believe you have, as can making a list of your best qualities."

Reading through Dr. Mercola's site,  I also found the following tips to be excellent...

"Just as eating healthy, exercising and getting a good night’s sleep are habits that must be held to in the long run to be effective, your emotional health requires ongoing care as well. And, just like your physical body, your mind can only take so much stress before it breaks down. Yet many neglect to tend to their emotional health with the same devotion they give to their physical well-being. This is a mistake, but one that’s easily remedied with the following tips for emotional nurturing.

1. Be an Optimist

Looking on the bright side increases your ability to experience happiness in your day-to-day life while helping you cope more effectively with stress.

2. Have Hope

Having hope allows you to see the light at the end of the tunnel, helping you push through even dark, challenging times. Accomplishing goals, even small ones, can help you to build your level of hope.

3. Accept Yourself

Self-deprecating remarks and thoughts will shroud your mind with negativity and foster increased levels of stress. Seek out and embrace the positive traits of yourself and your life, and avoid measuring your own worth by comparing yourself to those around you.

4. Stay Connected

Having loving and supportive relationships helps you feel connected and accepted, and promote a more positive mood. Intimate relationships help meet your emotional needs, so make it a point to reach out to others to develop and nurture these relationships in your life.

5. Express Gratitude

People who are thankful for what they have are better able to cope with stress, have more positive emotions, and are better able to reach their goals. The best way to harness the positive power of gratitude is to keep a gratitude journal or list, where you actively write down exactly what you’re grateful for each day. Doing so has been linked to happier moods, greater optimism and even better physical health.

6. Find Your Purpose and Meaning

When you have a purpose or goal that you’re striving for, your life will take on a new meaning that supports your mental well-being. If you’re not sure what your purpose is, explore your natural talents and interests to help find it, and also consider your role in intimate relationships and ability to grow spiritually.

7. Master Your Environment

When you have mastery over your environment, you’ve learned how to best modify your unique circumstances for the most emotional balance, which leads to feelings of pride and success. Mastery entails using skills such as time management and prioritization along with believing in your ability to handle whatever life throws your way.

8. Exercise Regularly

Exercise boosts levels of health-promoting neurochemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which may help buffer some of the effects of stress and also relieve some symptoms of depression. Rather than viewing exercise as a medical tool to lose weight, prevent disease, and live longer – all benefits that occur in the future – try viewing exercise as a daily tool to immediately enhance your frame of mind, reduce stress and feel happier.

9. Practice Mindfulness

Practicing “mindfulness” means that you’re actively paying attention to the moment you’re in right now. Rather than letting your mind wander, when you’re mindful you’re living in the moment and letting distracting or negative thoughts pass through your mind without getting caught up in their emotional implications. Mindfulness can help you reduce stress for increased well-being as well as achieve undistracted focus.

I think that if people can live in the present moment and become aware of their true feelings and identify what is bothering them, that is the first step towards emotional relief. I wish everyone who is suffering with emotional pain a life filled with love, peace, and happiness!

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