Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)… What Is It?

beta glucanObsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), is an illness that is often used as everyday terminology and thrown around out of context and without much thought.

The main reason for this being that most people don’t really understand the implications of such a disorder are, and therefore without really meaning to, decrease the seriousness of it by applying it to things that may be aligned to obsessive compulsive behaviors, but aren’t.

These behaviors include but are not limited to; excessive hand washing, cleanliness, and repetitive actions.

However, what most people don’t realize is what Obsessive Compulsive Disorder actually is and how it can really impact an individual’s life.

Obsessive compulsive disorder occurs in an individual when they feel like they have to do a particular action otherwise something bad will happen.

The only way that the individual can feel relief is if they carry out the action.

The actions that the individuals affected carry out are often repeated in cycles, and are usually done the same way each time that they do it.

The anxiety that not doing the action causes can cause the individual a lot of distress.

Even if the reasoning behind the anxiety does not always make sense, the threat in their mind is a very real one.

As the anxiety is very real, it can be hard to treat, but it is not impossible.

Most people go to their doctor when they feel that their OCD is taking over their lives.

When it gets to this point, many doctors will recommend cognitive behavioral therapy and counselling.

If your friend or relative is diagnosed with OCD, or you think that they may be suffering from it, the best thing that you can do is be there for them.

Talk to them if they are open enough with you to do so, and lend them a helping hand if they are feeling anxious, and most of all, don’t make light of the situation.

Alzheimer’s Disease

beta glucanAlzheimer’s Disease can be incredibly scary, not only for the person who is going through it, but also for the people around them.

However, it doesn’t need to be.

When your health deteriorates, even if it is because of age, there are still things that you can do to help relieve the symptoms.

Even if you are the friend or family member of the person that has it, it is important to remember that there are also things that you can do to not only increase your understanding of what is going on, but to help with controlling symptoms and the health of the affected individual.

When disease attacks the brain there is no knowing how the individual affected will respond.

Sometimes they may understand what is going on, and actively try to pursue a ‘cure’, but other times they may be confused and not really understand what is going on.

It is during these times that the people around them and the people that they love are needed the most.

Unfortunately there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but there has been a lot of improvement in slowing down deterioration in the past few years.

Some studies even suggest that coconut water could be a natural way of helping the individual with Alzheimer’s disease to reduce their levels of confusion and even lessen their rate that they deteriorate.

Of course, this hasn’t been proven yet, but it does offer some hope that a cure will be found in the future.

One of the main things you can do to help your friend/ family member who has Alzheimer’s is to be there for them.

When they say and do odd things, don’t question it.

When they mix up words or fall asleep in random places simply smile and wake them up gently if need be.

It’s an awful, awful disease, but there is support out there such as the Alzheimer’s Association in the USA or the Alzheimer’s Society in the UK.

Don’t be scared to get help.

A Problem Shared

beta glucanHave you ever felt like you could cry and scream and punch something all at the same time?

Like there is a fire burning inside of you that you can’t escape and almost it feels like your heart will pop out of your chest?

These are probably the times that you least want to talk to someone, where you least want to let someone else in.

However, they are also the times where this will probably help you the most.

When having a cup of tea and a chat with a close friend or family member can help you to look at the things that you are struggling with objectively, and sort through them in a productive way.

Sometimes, your friends don’t even have to say anything. More often than not, just speaking about what is bothering us and what we are struggling with helps us to find the solutions ourselves.

Yet, when we are unable to find the solutions, sometimes we do need another person there, who can guide us and help us to see things from a different perspective.

Talking about your problems not only helps you to sort through what is going on in your head but it also helps with stress.

Stress is one of the main things that causes your immune system to slow down, so avoiding and reducing high-stress situations is important not only for your mental well-being, but for your physical well-being too.

By sharing how you feel and sorting through the things on your mind you may not get rid of the problem altogether, in fact, a lot of the time the only thing that you will really do is find a different perspective to the problem which helps you to relieve it in your mind.

Not only is talking to an effective way to help you de-stress, but it is natural, free and helps build intimacy too.

Who said talking about things was bad?

Positive Thinking

Although it hasn’t been scientifically proved, lots of people believe that it is actually possible to think yourself well using positive thinking.

Despite the lack of evidence to back this statement up however, there may be some truth to it.

You see, when you are thinking positively, you are usually happy and content with your life how it is. You have less trouble sleeping, and are probably in a space where you are free to express yourself, and have a high sense of wellbeing and consciousness regarding your health. This will lead to you noticing what your body is doing quicker.

If however, you are thinking negatively you are probably under lots of stress, your health is probably one of the last things that you are thinking about, and you may not be getting the correct amount of sleep nor nutrients that you need.

Thinking positively or negatively by itself is not going to make you the healthiest or unhealthiest person alive. But to some extent changing your thinking and focusing on what your body needs can, particularly if you can recognise the patterns.

This leads on quite well from last week’s blog post regarding self-care. If you want to be healthy, to an extent, you have to choose to be. Of course, this doesn’t include things like depression and other long-term illnesses, but if you are feeling negative and run down then a change of diet or increasing sleep can have a big impact in terms of attitude and wellbeing.

Having a positive attitude also has a lot to do with how you deal with things. The more positive and content that you are, things stress you out less and you can deal with things more easily. Yet, when you are in a negative headspace, the littlest thing can have the biggest impact, and things pile up easier.

Having a positive or negative attitude therefore does not make you healthy or unhealthy. It just puts you in a different place, and means that you deal with health issues differently. The more positive you are, the more you may be looking after yourself so that you may recover quicker.

The Use of Meditation & Diet to Destress

destressStress can be caused by a number of things, from work pressures to your home life, and, unfortunately it can manifest itself in a very physical way from migraines to other muscle pains.

When stress starts to take its toll physically as well as mentally however, this is the point at which most people visit the doctor.

Yet, before taking medication and deciding that that this is the course of action that you are most happy with, perhaps it is worth taking into consideration some more natural relievers such as meditation or even changes in diet.

For most people meditation is not there first thought when they are stressed. It can seem incredibly time consuming and very odd, particularly if nobody around you really talks about it or even seems to know about it.

However, the main way that meditation can help relieve stress is through the fact that it clears your mind.

By allowing yourself time to sit in the peace and quiet and be still, to let it be ok not to worry about looming deadlines or all of the things you have to do tomorrow it can help you to regain focus and if done before bed can help you get a good nights sleep.

The same goes for diet. Needless to say, diets with a high caffeine intake are not particularly helpful when it comes to stress.

This is because the caffeine can affect your body by speeding up your heart rate and even make you feel more anxious. What is more, diets with a high artificial sugar intake can produce similar affects.

By cutting down on the caffeine and artificial sugars you can therefore help reduce anxiety and stress levels to help you feel better and more productive.

Of course, if the effects of stress are more longer term then it may be worth seeing your GP, and even stocking up on some Beta Glucan to help repair your immune system afterwards as high levels of stress often reduces the immune systems ability to stay on top of illnesses making you feel worse.

Beauty and Confidence

beautyHumanity has been using natural remedies to get rid of their ailments or to treat them for hundreds of years, helping to cure any health ailments as well as to help women and men look their best.

Therefore, sometimes it’s nice to go back and see what they did in the past, the treatments that sound bizarre, and the recipes that you can never imagine trying yourself.

But then you stumble across something and it makes you want to make it right there and then just to see if it works.

Beauty treatments are a great example of this.

Beauty as a topic may seem odd, particularly in the context of health, however for generations beauty and feeling good about yourself has been something that is associated with having confidence or high self-esteem, and when these feelings are high, feelings such as self-doubt, stress and sadness become reduced.

The reduction in these emotions means that your immune system is not at as much risk due to the actions these things produces such as lack of sleep, poor diet etc. being reduced as a result.

Of course it’s not just the external that matters, but looking and feeling good plays a part in how we see ourselves and that is important.

Thus, we have compiled our favorite 3 natural beauty remedies from the past! (Good Luck!)

  • Fancy brightening your teeth? Mash up a strawberry and mix it with half a teaspoon of baking soda. We’re not sure how good this mixture tastes, but apparently rubbing it on your teeth, leaving for two minutes then brushing as per usual helps keep them white!
  • Suffer from large pores and hate primer? Try mixing the white of an egg with one teaspoon of corn-starch until frothy and then rub the mixture into your skin before leaving it for 20 minutes….
  • Want to reduce wrinkles? Crush some grapes to get the juice and then with a cotton pad apply to wrinkle prone areas (around your mouth and eyes, and your forehead) and rinse after 5 minutes!

Give them a try…

Can Music Reduce Your Stress Levels?

musicIt is difficult to go outside without seeing people plugged into their earphones, be it on trains, buses or even just walking around. This is because everyone is consistently plugged into there music, and it has become portable in a way that has revolutionised how we see it.

These technological advancements are not just arbitrary either. We often listen to music when we want to distract ourselves, meaning that although it is now portable and more readily available through MP3 downloads, the health benefits are still effective.

Now, when you think of music, the first thing that comes to mind isn’t usually the health benefits that it has. Instead, it’s thought of as entertainment, something to keep you amused on the commute to work and to energise you in the morning.

However, for years it has been heralded as a way in which to heal your mental chakra, to tap into memories, and to promote healthy relationships with certain things (i.e overcoming certain fears and phobias).

Music is thought to be healing as it is able to tap into our brains through the melody, pitch, timing and the beat of what is being played.

These things can potentially all work together to provide calm to both your mind and your body, particularly when the right type of music is being played.

This calm that the music delivers is important in fighting off things like stress.

Stress can weaken your immune system and leave you more open and susceptible to viruses and sickness, and so if you work in a high-pressure environment listening to calming music may be extremely beneficial.

Not only can music promote calm, but it also has physical effects and can actually influence your heart rate and reduce blood pressure.

Of course, the types of benefits that music may have does depend on the type, and music can not be used to solve every health issue, but it can help particularly when you are under huge amounts of stress.

Why We Need To Take A Step Back From Technology

technologyTechnology is an amazing thing.

It enables us to communicate with people over the other side of the world, and we have uncapped and uncensored information at our fingertips.

Now more than ever we can learn anything, we can do anything, and we can teach ourselves anything. However, it is possible that we can have too much of a good thing.

Over the past 20 years of information technology being popularised and brought into homes and workplaces, of it shrinking and being able to be popped into our pockets, our concentration levels have dropped, our eyesight has worsened and our self-worth has become clouded in a sea of ‘likes’ and ‘favourites’.

None of these things are good for our physical or mental wellbeing.

Of course it’s easy to say that you need to step away from technology, but with texts and phone calls being on the same device as your Facebook messages and Twitter feed it’s hard to do.

Most of us don’t even put our phones into the same class as our laptops despite them being able to do most of the things that our laptops can.

Moreover, when we take a break from our laptops, we can often be found on our phones, a habit which does nothing for our eyesight, or our memories.

When we use our phones whilst watching the television and feeding the dog, our mind isn’t focused therefore whatever we watch or read never makes it to our long-term memories, making it difficult for us to learn new things.

This constant stimulation also causes us to be more anxious as we are subconsciously frightened of missing something, despite the fact that whatever that something is may not actually be applicable to our lives, or cause us any enjoyment.

It even affects our social lives. When you go out, take a look around. How many people are at lunch with their friends with their phones on the table?

Sometimes we can get so carried away with our virtual lives that we are actually missing that face-to-face communication desperately needed by humans. But what can we do about it?

Get out (without your phone… or at least put it in your pocket!), set specified hours for laptop and smart tablet use and don’t go over them!

Unplug and get out of the house, and most importantly, make time for your family and friends without using your phone every 5 minutes… they’ll thank you for it!

Body Image

body imageWhat do you see when you look in the mirror of a morning?

Do you see a happy and healthy individual with a bright smile and wayward hair that, on second thoughts, you’re definitely going to have to brush today? Or do you see your flaws?

Your  nose that’s too pointy, your lips that aren’t full enough, your flat chest and eyes that are never going to be as bright as those of celebrities in magazines?

If you answered yes to the second option rather than the first, then you are not alone.

Negative thoughts with regards to how you see yourself and your body image are, unfortunately, pretty normal.

However, it’s when these negative thoughts won’t leave you alone, when they consume you and your every action that societies preoccupation with body image leads to individuals developing health disorders such as body dismorphia, anorexia and bulimia, and it’s easier than you think to find yourself battling these illnesses.

So, how do we stop ourselves from developing these disorders in the first place, and what can we do to stop future generations buckling under the pressure of airbrushed models in magazines and the impossibly small mannequins that they see in shops?

Well, it’s important not to blame the media for everything.

Family and friends are often the most influential people in a young persons life and not the media, therefore it is important that if you are in charge of young people that you are aware of how you speak about your body and your relationship with food in front of them as your thoughts will influence how they see their own bodies.

By keeping talk about body image and food positive, it re-affirms a healthy outlook towards nutrition and what it means to eat healthily.

Also, if you are having distressing thoughts about your body image, it’s vital that you talk to a health professional about it.

You may not think anything of skipping a meal or two to lose a couple of pounds, but when this becomes obsessive, you need to be able to realise that that isn’t healthy.

Asking for help when you’ve developed an eating disorder is hard, particularly when you feel like there is nothing wrong with how you are eating, but sometimes asking for help is the only way to get you back on track and believing that you are beautiful and worthy and absolutely brilliant the way you are.

Creating Happiness

happinessHappiness is something that we all want to strive for, regardless of if we realise it on a conscious level or not.

It is something that we work towards, and when we are unable to attain our version of ‘happy’ it leaves us feeling empty and lethargic.

It can even affect our levels of health and if we are under a lot of stress and pressure. This, added to the strain of personal circumstances not only results in the absence of happiness, (unhappiness), but can also lead to depression and other mental health issues.

Yet happiness is such a personal and abstract thing that that it means that there is no one size fits all solution to creating happiness or having happiness in our lives.

However, science has proven that there are some ways that we can help boost our levels of certain natural elements in our bodies (namely endorphins), and this can help us to lift our moods naturally and push us in the right direction to attaining happiness.

1. Exercise more: It might seem silly, everyone says it, however, exercising is a great way to boost endorphins in the brain, as well as keeping fit and healthy. Not only does it make you happier and boost your mood, it can also help you to feel more energetic, thus boosting your mood so that you can get more done, challenge yourself and push forward!

2. Get outside: Nature has an amazing affect on our brains and sometimes we are unable to appreciate exactly how much. Simply being around nature can be calming, promotes inner peace and wellbeing and can even help clear your mind.

3. Fit in five chuckles a day: Laughter is the best type of medicine and the more that you laugh, the happier you become. It’s an odd one, as generally if you’re laughing there is something stimulating that laughter and happiness, but it’s important to do the things that you enjoy and take pleasure in them.

4. Re-discover an old passion: Sometimes we forget to do the things that we love, we get too busy and push the things that we love to the sidelines. However, we need to put ourselves first sometimes and stop letting our passions go unfuelled.

What boosts your mood? We’d love to know!