Emotional Contamination Treatment Strategies
Did you know that someone with OCD can feel contaminated by a simple thought? A thought like, if I associate with people I perceive as "dumb" I will become dumb myself. Not only that, but they have to do many rituals to get rid of this mental and emotional contamination.
What is emotional contamination and how is it treated? That's what today's video is all about.
Well, you've probably heard of plain old contamination. Touching things that appear contaminated, these are all physical objects that enter someone's life. When it comes to emotional contamination, it's very different. This same feeling of contamination is often felt is all because of an association their brain put on something. Individuals will often get triggered by a thought, image or memory associated with an individual.
These things that make them feel contaminated can be an illness someone has or talks about or an individual that they know and dislike their traits. The key here is association. This subtype of OCD really attacks who they are and ruining their possible future.
For instance, someone may have all these goals of becoming a doctor. They have their classes ready to go, they have all the plans for the future. You know what would ruin this for them? If they couldn't pass their classes. If they just weren't smart enough. So the brain takes this value and says, well you know what. Jimmy struggled with this class and doesn't use proper grammar when he talks. If you talk or hang out with him, you will become like him. You are now contaminated. The only way to get this imaginary contaminant to go away is for you to do some compulsions.
It comes up with ideas; for sure don't hang out with Jimmy. Don't even say his name. Any association with him is dangerous. It's not going to get me to where I want to be.
Emotional contamination can show up with really any association. I could see a news report talking about the homeless population and its link to drug addiction. The news anchor was wearing yellow and standing under a tree. So now, my brain says, if I wear yellow, I'm in danger of being addicted to drugs. If I stand under a tree, it's possible my life will lead me to becoming homeless. Even seeing others around you wearing yellow triggers this contaminated feeling. It's more than something like magical thinking OCD (take a look at that video by the way). With magical thinking there is a superstitious thought, with emotional contamination it's a feeling.
It's a gross/yucky feeling. You think of touching something you know is gross and you immediately want to wash your hands. Imagine this inside you body, you want to do anything you can to cleanse yourself of this.
The compulsions individuals do really can be anything their brain tells them to do. Avoidance is a big one. I'm not even going to go there, see those people, watch shows, use social media, and even use words associated. It can be various rituals, washing hands, showering, or saying certain phrases over and over again.
We treat this just like any other subtype of OCD. With exposure and response prevention. That uncomfortable feeling essentially must be tolerated and responded to differently. For instance, the name Jimmy makes me feel contaminated, I know think I'll become dumb. I'm going to start looking at picture of Jimmy, hanging out with him, going online and searching anything I can about Jimmy. I may be writing his name out over and over again. I may be saying, "yep, I may or may not become dumb" -- That internal yucky feeling will be there, but it can't last forever. We're responding differently. Some may say, "man, I love this feeling" "I hope it lasts all day." I may be focusing on whatever the ultimate threats are. I may be using poor grammar on purpose. Sitting under that tree that makes me worried. Watching videos of the homeless population. Accepting uncertainty and breaking these associations by not engaging in the rumination or feeling that comes with it. Ultimately, doing the opposite of what my OCD tells me to do. Don't think about this phrase, I'm going to think about it. Don't wear yellow or else. I'm wearing yellow.
The brain needs to learn that you're the boss. You can handle anything and any feeling that comes your way.
Emotional contamination can feel similar to superstitious or magical thinking ocd. Watch that one here.
Also, if you've struggled with this before, let me know in the comments.
Insides feel contaminated
Ruined my future after talking to someone
How to treat misophonia
In this video, I'm going to tell you about 5 techniques that individuals use to help with misophonia.
You hear the sound of somebody eating. you instantly get enraged. Someone around you just yawned and you want nothing more than to leave the room and scream. You avoid restaurants because you can't stand the sound. When people talk and make the S sound, you immediately have a fight or flight reaction. If this sounds like you, you may have what is called Misophonia.
Misophonia is not just an ordinary annoyance with sound. This is so much more. We all get annoyed from time to time. I absolutely cannot handle it when somebody is chewing their food. But there are times when I don't notice it. But this wouldn't be considered misophonia. Instead, I have a case of normal annoyance.
Individuals who have misophonia are affected emotionally by common sounds. What time they are sounds that most people don't ever pay attention to. Some examples may be breathing, yawning, certain letters that people say. It could be the rustling of paper, someone chewing gum. Someone sniffing. Really it could be any noise. These simple noises cause a fight or flight response. This response tells the body to RUN. Get out of there. It can cause anxiety, distress, and anger.
Whenever I talk about this usually response to get from somebody is, "Oh I totally have that" I hate when people click their pen or hearing the pants shuffle. - But likely, it's not misophonia. Here is one big indicator to look for:
Misophonia seriously compromises functioning, socializing, and ultimately mental health. So if you hear a sound you don't like, does it cause you to not function. For those who struggle with this, it can take over their life.
You may think....well, get over it. It's just sound. But not to do those who experience this. It can be torture.
There is not much research that is done for those who struggle with misophonia, however, researchers have found that whos who have misophonia have higher amounts of myelination. This fatty substance wraps around nerve cells in the brain to bo provide electrical insulation. Right now, we don't know if that extra myelin plays a part, but it goes to show us that individuals are not just making it up. This is a real disorder.
Anger is a biiiiiiiig response to these noises. Individuals will often feel betrayed that someone will make this noise around them and snap. "you know I don't like when you tap your fork on the plate." Isolation seems to be the only fix.
There is some debate on what therapy strategies you should use with misophonia and realistically, each person may be different. Here are 5 methods that could be used for misophonia.
#1 - Distress tolerance techniques - Exposure and response prevention with the idea to habituate does not seem to be helpful. We've learned that these sensitive to sound don't just "simply go away" Instead, we teach to tolerate the sounds. To have a distressing emotion AND still be able to move forward with life. Continue watching the movie, continue eating at the table, continue talking to friends. This idea for some is to on purpose be exposed to a sound and respond differently to it. Not expecting it to go away, but to connect with valued activities while hearing the sounds. Acceptance seems to be the key here. I've excepted that these sounds will trigger a negative response, but am sitting with this and will continue forward instead. Simply put, some may hear a sound over and over and over again, while doing an activity that they enjoy. Teaching their brain that they can still talk with family members AND hear that sound. Both can be in existence in the same bubble.
#2 - Manage the environment - This one is tricky and really designed to manage symptoms. Not treat them. What this means is simply to accommodate! Yikes, did you ever think I'd say that? It feels weird for me to say, but in a lot of cases, misophonia can be so distressing that individuals can change the environment to minimize the chance of a sound happening. If I'm triggered by metal spoons touching the bowl, the family may eat with plastic spoons. I may use headphones at the dinner table while we're eating. I change things around knowing I may still be triggered, but the chances are slimmer. It can be tough because you cannot control each situation or environment. But acceptance also helps to know, if the sound is heard, then it's heard. In other words, accommodations (headphones, white noise, noise cancellation) alone, without cognitive-behavioral strategies is not recommended as a sole treatment strategy.
#3 - Self-compassion - since anger is a big component of misophonia, individuals can often get angry at others or themselves. When someone practices self-compassion, it has been shown to increase treatment outcomes and reduce overall emotions. Keep an open mind that you may hear a sound you don't like. Be kind to yourself if you do. You may use phrases like, yep, there is that sound and I am an awesome person. Or, my uniqueness makes me special. Self-compassion may me that you're continuing to live life despite the idea that you may hear a noise.
#4 - Emotion regulation techniques - Individuals who practice emotional regulation tend to cope better with life's stressors and are more resilient. Ultimately, this may help a level of 10 out of 10 of anger to lower. Emotional regulation can look like this for kid and even adults. Name the feeling. Instead of feeling frustrated or anger, name it. I feel angry when I hear that noise. I feel distress when I hear that sound. It can help take a step back and label what's happening. Notice your body, the sensations that are happening. Practicing self-awareness. My heart is beating fast, my head feels hot, my hands are shaking. We can notice without putting judgement. Not saying, it's bad that my heart is beating fast. It just simply is beating fast. Another emotional regulation technique is to "pause" - don't immediately run at any sound heard. Take a moment to pause. Notice the sensations, feelings, emotions and then reevaluate your choice.
#5 - Self-soothing - Because we know that sound is sensory. To help calm emotions and feelings, some choose various self-soothing techniques. Meditation, yoga, breathing. Some find it helpful to use fidgets or other self-soothing tools when emotions are high. It can be take a few deep breaths. Engaging in positive self-talk. Place your hand over your heart and notice the beats. Sit with your pet. Color something. List positive things about yourself. Use your 5 senses to enjoy the work around you.
Ultimately, here's the thing. Misophonia isn't just about being sensitive to sound. It's on a whole another level. Be patient with those who have it. Be patient with yourself. Do you or something you know struggle with misophonia?
What to do when I hate sounds
What is misophonia
Tips to handle nightime anxiety
Man, have you ever noticed that anxiety tends to increase as it gets closer to nighttime? In this video, I am going to give you 10 tips to help you calm this pesky nighttime anxiety and help you get a better night sleep.
There are many statistics that show that many individuals struggle with sleep on a regular basis. In fact, 50% of those who are sleep deprived say that their anxiety impacted their ability to sleep. it's like a double-edged sword. Anxiety tends to cause less sleep and having less sleep tends to cause more anxiety.
Our brain is simply tired at the end of the night. We've had 1000+ different thoughts, we had problems to solve, homework to do, and really, the biggest thing we're thinking about is....those things we don't know. Our brain can get so stuck on the future, the what-ifs, the things we have no control over. This is where anxiety loves to live.
To teach this anxiety who's the boss, here are your 10 tips to help with your nighttime anxiety.
#1 - Practice meditation - We need to learn to calm our brain from the day. Teaching it to not problem solve before we sleep. Some day, while we dream, our brain is throwing out useless information and even problem-solving. Some suggest this starts too soon, before we've gone to sleep, causing extra thinking and more anxiety. Meditation can be anything from starting a guided meditation you find online, to using your 5 senses to notice the things around you and practice not using judgment with them.
#2 - subscribing to this channel. It'll power you up. But really!
#2 - Practice good sleep hygiene - This typically means having a good schedule. You watch tv until a certain time, you turn your phone off at a certain time, you get to bed at a certain time. Consistency is the key. This may even mean limiting naps in the day and limiting caffeine or alcohol. Sticking to a schedule that you can count on trains your brain to sleep when it needs to sleep.
#3 - Avoid stressful activities before bed - It's important to create a transition from daytime to nighttime. The goal is to teach the brain that daytime Is for problem-solving and thinking, and nighttime is for relaxing. This may mean, no work past a certain time, no news and no social media. Some may even find that watching TV right before bed presents an issue.
#4 - Limit screen time - Have you heard of "blue light" - it tricks your brain into thinking the sun is up. It keeps you awake. Professionals suggest shutting down all screens 1-2 hours before bedtime to minimize sleep interruptions. This also allows your brain to slow down and prepare for sleep. For some people this is a must, for others, that's just part of the lifestyle. There are blue light filters to minimize the blue light. This isn't only for your sleep, but for your anxiety.
#5 - Use a weighted blanket - It's like a hug, but without the hug. Weighted blankets produce calming effects. The deep pressure can help increase serotonin and melatonin while decreasing cortisol. Ultimately, this promotes feelings of calmness and peace.
#6 - Exercise in the day. Exercise reduces the production of stress hormones. With less stress hormones, we tend to have less anxiety. Regular exercise has shown to help people fall asleep faster and more soundly. Even brisk walks. However, Individuals should avoid vigorous activity at least 1 hour before bedtime.
#7 - Set aside time for winding down - This is all about routines. Think about things that get you in the mood to sleep. Dimming the lights, listening to calming music, a warm bath. At least 30 minutes before bedtime, individuals can start this transition. Schedule this out. I am sleeping every night at 10:30 - The body and brain need to know this routine.
#8 - Write worries down on paper - Sometimes our thoughts just won't stop. But that's okay. Thoughts are thoughts. Some find it helpful to pull out a piece of paper and write down thoughts in the day. Anxious feelings or things they need to get done. The act of putting them on paper often tells the brain, it's here. I'll get to it when I get to it. But what you'll find as well is that most of things you're writing are things you have zero control over. Or they are things in the future that we are unsure of. Teach the brain that you wrote them down and are no longer problem solving them. Sometimes a quite answer to the brain like, "okay" "cool" "gotcha" can signal that you have the thought, but aren't moving any closer to it.
#9 - Avoid lying in bed awake - Leaving the bed may feel counterintuitive, but getting out and doing something relaxing can help calm the body and almost reset the loop of thoughts. This doesn't mean pull out your phone and scroll through social media. Ultimately, this conditioning is known as stimulus control and can reduce the time it takes to fall asleep. If you try this, it's important to actually leave your bedroom, get a mental reset, and try again.
#10 - Let thoughts be thoughts - The more you try to control them, the more they have control over you. Practice not putting any value to these thoughts. It doesn't matter if they bring anxiety or if they are random. Let a thought be a thought. Just like before, answer like, "okay" "cool" "gotcha" or "maybe, maybe not" signal to the brain that it's just not your thing to figure out all the thoughts. That may have it's place another time.
Ultimately, what's important to know is that many have anxiety about the act of actually falling asleep. It's actually okay to feel anxious. The body is throwing out false signals. Allow your body to do what it's going to do. When anxiety arrives, you can acknowledge it. Hey there, welcome. You can stay or leave whenever you want. The more we take value away, the more the brain learns from these experiences and is less likely to bring it again next time.
So what'd you think? What helps you with your nighttime anxiety? Let me know in the comments
Stop night time anxiety
How to sleep faster from anxiety
Nathan Peterson specializes in working with OCD and Anxiety related disorders and has done so for the past 7+ years.