For those that are unaware, an ICD (or impulse control disorder) is a psychiatric disorder that doesn’t allow much, or any, control over an urge to do something that results in hurting themselves or others. As someone who suffers from this disorder I’ve decided to help others figure out what to do when they are going through an urge they feel they can’t control.
Before listing a few ways to cope, please understand that an ICD can come in many forms (not just hurting yourself or others in a physical way) such as Kleptomania, Pathological Gambling, Trichotillomania, Pyromania, Intermittent explosive disorder, Compulsive Skin Picking and even Compulsive Buying (explained in detail here).
Without further ado, here are five ways to help cope with your urges:
Tap Your Fingers Together
As simple as this is, simply pressing the pads of your fingers against your thumb one at a time can help with small urges (such as wanting to push something off of a shelf in a store or break something).
The ol’ Counting Method
This still works for small urges! Pick your favorite number and begin counting either out loud or to yourself- whichever you find more comfortable. This method helps when you are standing in a line and are tempted to do something you most likely shouldn’t do.
Play Music or Listen to Ambient Sounds
Again, something so simple to solve a problem can be a major benefit. Just as music can be used as motivation to get something done, it can be a great factor in stopping something bad from happening. Using music to take your mind off of something is not unknown, but in the moment, a lot of people are by themselves and in a crisis that can trigger an urge of self-harm. Music can calm you down as well as listening to the sound of rain or thunderstorms.
Play with Magnets
Magnets are usually used for refrigerator decorations, bumper stickers and even science. On the other hand, if you need a physical touch of something other than your own fingers to help you out of an urge, playing with magnets that can go anywhere with you is a huge plus. I play with Zen Magnets and use them to keep myself from touching things that I shouldn’t touch (such as the button on someone else’s shirt or someone else’s pens or pencils).
Submerge your Hands into Something Messy
The point of these coping tips are to keep your mind busy enough to get you out of a situation. A lot of times you need to physically do something with your hands to keep you from acting on an urge. This is where I would recommend getting your hands dirty with Oobleck, Kinetic Sand, mud (yes, dirt and water). Keeping your hands dirty [or at least busy] will take your mind off of whatever your urge is most of the time. It keeps your mind at ease and you can have a ton of fun!
There are a ton of ways to keep from acting on an intense or minor urge. As a bonus, another way to help you deal with an urge can be to let someone know you are having these urges. There are people out there who can help you; doctors, friends, family and on occasion- strangers nearby. Sometimes we need all the help we can get. If you or someone you know is going through what might be ICD or compulsive behaviors go to a doctor as this isn’t incurable and it could be a simple matter of just staying busy to help you or someone else through it.