How to Manage OCD in the Workplace

How to Manage OCD in the Workplace

Obsessive compulsive disorder, or OCD, is an anxiety disorder associated with obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are distressing thoughts, images, or impulses that persist in the mind of the person who suffers from OCD. Compulsions are ritualistic behaviors that the person feels like they must do.

These thoughts and behaviors can be distressing and cause anxiety and other problematic symptoms. People may ritualistically clean or excessively organize. If you suffer from OCD, I urge you to check out the resources that BetterHelp has to offer. 

OCD can make it difficult to work productivity and find a positive environment. However, there are some things you can do to improve your work conditions that may help you cope with OCD in the workplace. 

Seek Reasonable Accommodations

OCD can affect work, but you can pursue accommodations to help you manage the symptoms while you work. Accommodations may reduce the anxiety in the workplace or help you avoid unnecessary or excessive mental strain. In fact, simple accommodations may even increase your productivity so it may be in the best interest of your employer to grant them. 

Accommodations have to be reasonable so they cannot be too difficult or cost-prohibited for the employer to allow. There are a lot of reasonable accommodations that may be beneficial to you. Many employers will grant flexible hours as long as the work gets completed on time and you work the amount you are supposed to. Some employers will allow additional time to complete tasks as well. These are reasonable as long as it is not too costly for the employer to grant them.

If your employer has the space, you may request a workspace that is not too close to other employees that may be distracting for someone who suffers from OCD. You also have the right to take the time off for your mental health and appointments with therapists. 

It can be difficult to request accommodations, but it is in the best interest of both you and your employer. It is your right to ask, and you could explain that these accommodations may even help you improve your productivity. 

Mindfulness

Mindfulness techniques do not require physical tools and can easily be done in the workplace. Mindfulness can effectively help you manage intrusive or distressing thoughts. 

Mindfulness can help you acknowledge the thoughts that are related to your OCD without judgment. Then, you can let them go. Mindfulness utilizes breathing and other techniques and can be done any time during the workday. 

Expect Understanding

You, just like everyone else, have the right to be accepted in the workplace. You should expect that your employer and coworkers will empathize and understand enough to accept you and provide you with a positive and comfortable work environment. 

If the people you work with are not supportive, it may not even be intentional. If they seem to misunderstand OCD, then you can gradually, and respectively, correct them or educate them. If the problem is severe, you can go to HR, but it is recommended that you try to work with your coworkers before doing so. 

Disclosure Concerns

Telling your employer and coworkers about your OCD may be difficult because it is personal. However, most people will likely show their support. However, that is not always the case. Choosing to disclose can be scary because you may be afraid that they will not understand or reject you. 

You should always remember that you are never obligated to disclose your mental illness. However, telling an employer can be positive because it can allow you to pursue accommodations and support. Just remember that it is up to you to disclose your OCD. 

One consideration about disclosure is whether your employer has a positive background in support of employees that have mental health issues. If so, then you can be more confident that they will support and accommodate you. 

It is good to be aware of the ADA and have documentation ready that shows your diagnosis from a mental health or other medical professional. In addition, think about what accommodations you would like to ask for and what information you wish to disclose and what information you would rather keep private.  

You may also want to check if the employer has an employee assistance program (EAP). This program may be able to help you disclose your OCD in a professional way.

If your employer does not understand OCD, then you can educate them. Having the ability to show them information about OCD that comes from a qualified source may help them understand you and the symptoms that you have that are associated with OCD. 

Final Thoughts on OCD and the Workplace

OCD can distract you during the workday and make it difficult to focus on the task at hand. If you have triggers at work, then the work environment can be distressing.  It is important to know that you have rights and if you wish to disclose your condition, then you can ask for reasonable accommodations. However, if you want to learn how to manage your symptoms and cope with OCD at work, then you may want to find a therapist who is qualified to assist with those who suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder. 

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Christophe Rude

Christophe Rude

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