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?

Insomnia

beta glucanWhen you don’t get a good night’s sleep you can find yourself becoming irritable, rundown and generally ‘off’.

However, what if it was not just one night’s sleep that was missing?

What if, like 30% of the current population of the UK right now, you suffered from insomnia.

Insomnia, according to medical definitions can include anything from 7 days to three weeks of sleepless nights, or nights where sleep is continuously disturbed without the full sleep cycle being completed.

After this period, professionals usually start to recommend medication to help you to sleep.

Primarily this is because sleep is needed for your body to operate properly.

Without sleep, insomnia can lead to relationship breakdowns, emotional issues and the increased likelihood of illness.

When you look at the statistics, 30% doesn’t seem like a lot, but when you think that this applies to 1 in every 10 people that you meet, and that they haven’t slept properly in around three weeks, the seriousness of insomnia is apparent. However, there are some things that can help.

Before doctors give out medication, they usually try other things, and ask you to try other things too.

Some things are as simple as asking you to create a sort of bedtime ritual, so that you do the same thing every night before getting into bed.

This helps your brain to get ready for bed, the same as your body, and is a lot more effective than watching TV right before sleep and then expecting to fall into a deep slumber.

In fact, cutting out any TV/ computer/ phone use for an hour before bed is also recommended.

Sometimes our brain really does need to just switch off. Cognitive behavioural therapy may also be used to treat insomnia, to override whatever it is that is stopping you from sleeping.

Sleeping is an important function, and plays an important part in our bodies’ immune system.

The more sleep that we get, the healthier we are, and the more living we can actually do!

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!

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!

Valentine’s Day and Singledom!

It’s that time of the year again. Valentine’s Day…valentine's day

If you aren’t with anyone at this time of year, it can be quite lonely especially when it seems like everyone else is in love or at least has someone to hold there hand. But don’t fret! We have come up with a few ideas to get you through this holiday.

They might not be the same as having a special someone there with you, but they may make this year a little more bearable. Besides just because its “meant” to be for couples, doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate other types of love too!

1. Grab some friends and have a movie / baking night – it’s best to keep yourself busy, and if one or more of your friends are single, it makes sense to celebrate your friendship and have fun. Just make sure the movies are comedies (without the “Rom”) to keep your spirits up.

2. Try focusing on what you do have. Do you have an awesome career? Or have you got lots of amazing friends? How about family? It’s easy to overlook what we have when we don’t have something and keep focusing on it, and sometimes we just need to put in a little bit more effort to get things into perspective.

3. Remember that it’s just a day! Despite the cards and garish presents, it is in reality a day like any other, besides, with the money you’ve saved by not taking part in it, you can treat yourself. Go on, you know you want to!

And if these tips don’t work, just remember, you are an amazing human being and someone, somewhere will understand that. You just have to be patient. And, if being single on Valentine’s Day really does bother you, perhaps make 2014 the year that you try something new. Make the effort to meet more people this year, join a club, or even try online dating! There are a whole variety of ways that you can change this part of your life if you want to, but the first and foremost thing is you!

Make sure you realise how wonderful you are.

Mental Health Awareness

mental_health_awarenessWhen we say the word “health” many things spring to mind, such as exercise, healthy eating, and the avoidance of illness. However, last Monday, the 20th of January, was dubbed as 2014’s “Blue Monday”. “Blue Monday” is apparently the most “depressing” day of the year, and with the cold, dark weather outside it seems hardly surprising. However, despite this day not really carrying much weight psychologically (there is no proof that this day is any more depressing than any other day in January), and has been labelled a type of pseudoscience by academics, it can be argued that it does have a deeper significance in building awareness and breaking down barriers surrounding mental health.

Mental health is still something that is still largely ignored or stigmatised by society, making people feel uncomfortable or unable to speak out about their experiences and making it difficult for them to seek help. However, pushing it to the forefront of the public consciousness through “Blue Monday” is definitely a step in the right direction, although I would argue that it needs to be highlighted for more than one day a year, and in a way that takes mental health issues like depression seriously and doesn’t just label being ‘blue’ or mildly upset along with depressed.

According to the NHS website, around 1 in 4 people experience some type of mental health issue throughout their lives. The mental health foundation (mentalhealth.org.uk) have expanded upon this sharing that the most common mental health issue in Britain is a mixture of anxiety and depression, and, of these people, more women are more likely to have been treated for mental health problems relating to anxiety and depression than men.  This indicates that despite women being more able to speak out about issues that they have been having and being comfortable enough to seek the professional help they need (perhaps after talking to friends and family), men still aren’t.

One of the main reasons for this is perhaps the social expectation’s of what it is to be a man and not talking about emotional issues that they may be going through with support systems that may or may not be in place, but it is also due to the types of mental health issues that affect men and women and how they affect the genders differently. The National Institute for clinical excellence have even suggested that the number of men being diagnosed with depression is lower than women because when they do go to the doctor with concerns, the symptoms that they have of depression physiologically present different.

Regardless of gender or social expectations and pressures however, we have to talk about mental illnesses and take them seriously, for a healthy body is only good thing when accompanied by a healthy mind.