5 CBT Tips for Being Social with Neighbors

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) impacts roughly 1 in 100 adults. It typically starts in childhood, but some people aren’t formally diagnosed with OCD until their adult years. It’s an anxiety disorder that is characterized by obsessions and compulsions that stem from extreme fears.

Everyone’s OCD is different. Some people suffer from severe OCD, which makes it difficult to do normal things like go to school, hold a job, or run errands. Other people have mild OCD, and it comes and goes over time. There isn’t a cure for OCD, but there are ways to manage the symptoms.

Research shows that many OCD sufferers respond well to social support. Whether it’s friends, family members, colleagues, or neighbors, people who have OCD often report feeling less anxiety and mental distress when they are surrounded by a solid support system.

One study, in particular, studied the quality of life of OCD sufferers over a four-year time period. The subjects who had the highest levels of social support had the best outcomes at the end of the study, whereas people without a strong social network had less favorable outcomes. Another study concluded that people can help their loved ones manage OCD symptoms through supportive communication.

Dealing with any mental health disorder can feel incredibly scary and isolating. Sometimes, it seems like no one else can possibly understand what you’re going through. But if you have a strong support network of friends and family, it can give you the motivation to push through on the hardest days. 

How CBT Can Benefit OCD Sufferers

There are a number of different treatments that are suitable for OCD. One of the most popular is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT is a type of therapy that essentially reprograms your thoughts and behaviors. It helps you identify harmful and negative thought patterns, and transform those thoughts into more positive beliefs. 

For people with OCD, CBT can be incredibly effective. OCD stems from anxiety around things like germs or disorganization. CBT can help you address the root cause of those fears, and rewire your brain to let go of the anxiety. When you deal with less anxiety, your OCD symptoms will naturally become less severe. 

Another core component of CBT is breaking the connection between your anxiety and your compulsive behaviors. That’s often accomplished through Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) therapy, where you are gradually exposed to your fears and learn how to respond without compulsions. With ERP, your brain learns to disassociate the fear with the action over time. 

CBT isn’t a magical cure for OCD. Even with regular OCD treatment, you might continue to experience some anxiety around your obsessions. But CBT is highly effective at reducing the symptoms of the disorder. For people who suffer from severe OCD, CBT can help them live a happier and healthier life. 

Using CBT to Socialize With Your Neighbors

Many people underestimate their relationships with their neighbors. If you’ve recently moved to a new city, or don’t have family nearby, your neighbors can become part of your social support network. It’s always a good feeling to see a familiar face while you’re out for a walk or have the ability to go across the street to a neighbor’s house for coffee. 

If you suffer from OCD, forming new relationships isn’t always easy. You may experience some hesitation with making new friends or stepping outside your comfort zone to introduce yourself to a stranger. It’s important to be mindful of your own comfort level and take things one step at a time. 

When you’re feeling ready to mingle, here are some ways that you can use your CBT learnings to socialize with your neighbors:

  1. Introduce yourself to neighbors when you see them: If you find yourself walking past a neighbor, challenge yourself to speak up and introduce yourself. You don’t need to have a long conversation, but let them know your name and what house you live in. 
  2. Go for walks around the neighborhood: Getting out of the house and exercising is great for your mental health. It will also give you more opportunities to meet people in your neighborhood. Maybe you’ll come across another dog owner or someone else who has kids on your block.
  3. Notice your anxiety when interacting with neighbors: When you’re talking to a neighbor, take note when you start to feel anxious. Instead of running away from the conversation, try to reframe your thoughts, and calm your mind.
  4. Schedule a game night or dinner with neighbors: When you start to become friendly with a neighbor, ask them if they would like to get together for dinner or a game night. Because you live closeby, there’s minimal pressure, and you can easily head home whenever you want to. 
  5. Greet new neighbors when they move in: If you notice that someone new has moved into your neighborhood, challenge yourself to knock on their door, and introduce yourself. You might even feel less anxious because you’re no longer the “new” person on the block. 
  6. Host a block party: Another fun idea is to host a block party for your neighborhood. You can plan it on your own, or partner up with a few neighbors. Invite everyone on your street, organize a big potluck, and spend the day getting to know your neighbors.

OCD Treatment at Pulse 

CBT is incredibly effective for OCD. But for people who’s OCD hasn’t responded well to traditional treatment or medication, TMS might be a good solution.

TMS, which stands for transcranial magnetic stimulation, is a non-invasive procedure that uses electromagnetic waves to stimulate areas of the brain that are responsible for OCD-triggering obsessions and compulsions. Within four weeks of treatment, most people begin to see a reduction in their OCD symptoms. 

Our facility is located at 663 Sawtelle Blvd (suite 240) in Los Angeles. To find out if you’re a candidate for TMS, contact us at (310) 846-8460.

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Article By: Chris Howard
Director of Community Outreach & Education Chris Howard has been working in the mental health field since 2010 after seeing the long-term effects of mental illness within his own family. He is a graduate of UCLA where he received his B.A. in Psychology. Having worked closely with those struggling with addiction, Chris considers the concept of community to be an essential part of treatment and advocates for wellness approaches that integrate both leading conventional therapies, as well as holistic practices like yoga and meditation.