Christmas-Wreath-3Christmas is supposed to be a merry time of year but for many people the holiday season brings with it increased stress, which directly affects OCD.

Talk to an OCD sufferer and they’ll tell you their OCD gets worse when they under stress. And the Christmas holidays is a time when stress can peak. There’s shopping to be done and last minute shopping to contend with, trying to get everything right, decorating to do, parties to attend, lots of socializing to deal with. These can all add to normal stress levels and that can make OCD spike.

What should be a joyous time can turn into a nightmare for some OCD sufferers. Intrusive thoughts seem to peak upward and the need to perform compulsions becomes more pronounced. Suddenly Christmas becomes a time of trying frantically to deal with the disorder, rather than a happy time with family and friends.

That’s why it’s very important to do what it takes to take the stress out of the holidays. If that means scaling back your expectations, then do it. Don’t over promise and under deliver — a sure fire scenario to get your stress levels up. Only commit to what you can reasonably be expected to accomplish in the time available. It’s okay to say, I’m sorry, I won’t be able to do that this year.

Take time out to relax. Every night have an hour or more to put your feet up, watch a good TV program, read a book or talk with a loved one. Take a refreshing walk away from the chaos. Make a point of putting yourself first and taking care of your relaxation needs throughout the holiday season.

For those stubborn obsessions that do come through, do your best to not engage with compulsions. Give yourself an excuse like, “I’ll deal with that thought later.”

If you take care of yourself, you’ll be better prepared to deal with OCD. The less stress you can go through this Christmas, the better for your OCD.