OCD is the short form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, an anxiety disorder that can literally ruin a person’s life if left untreated. The disorder is characterized by invasive thoughts that keep hording the mind constantly, producing anxiety, fear, apprehension or worry (noted as obsessions). The condition is also characterized by repetitive behaviors that encourage the person to think that such behaviors would help reduce their anxiety and uneasiness.
A person with OCD would most likely be preoccupied constantly with rather irrational thoughts pertaining to religion, violence, relationships or sex etc. He/she would usually be obsessed about certain actions and insist on performing them even if advised otherwise.
Common behavioral symptoms include repeated washing, repeated checking, excessive cleaning, checking for dirt, constantly arranging things about the house etc. Some people with OCD also get obsessed with superstitious thoughts and refrain from using certain numbers, opening/closing the door a certain number of times or retracing their steps constantly when they go out etc.
Effective Home Remedies For OCD
The thing about OCD is that it would take quite an effort on the part of the concerned individual to thwart the condition and its symptoms. Some people affected by OCD find it difficult to change their obsessions and compulsions even after realizing that they are irrational.
Fortunately, OCD and its symptoms can be controlled effectively with a few home remedies which would make it easier for the person to combat the issue without letting others in on his/her secret. Here are some of the more common home remedies often recommended for OCD.
Eat Nutritional Foods
Adding more nutritious foods to your meals can help reduce the stress and anxiety related to OCD to a great extent. Include foods rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, essential fatty acids, magnesium, complex carbohydrates and Vitamins B12, C and D.
In addition to strengthening the body and stabilizing the blood sugar levels, these foods would also help stimulate the increased production of a neurotransmitter called serotonin which has calming effects on the body and mind. Excellent examples of foods you can eat in order to combat OCD and its symptoms include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, flaxseeds, walnuts and low fat dairy products like yogurt and milk.
Change Your Eating Habits
OCD and its symptoms can be controlled to an extent with the help of healthy eating habits. Never skip meals as this can lower your blood sugar levels and increase the stress-related symptoms of OCD, including headaches and anxiety.
Hurried eating can also cause indigestion and aggravate the symptoms of OCD. And binge eating during stressful conditions would only lead to an overweight body without doing anything to control the symptoms of OCD. It is considered wise to sit down and relax for some time before having a meal.
Opt for smaller meals at regular intervals instead of 3 large meals a day. Take the time to chew the food properly. And last of all, never eat when you are stressed out. In such circumstances, try diverting your mind to other activities that can relax you.
Opt For Decaffeinated Drinks
Although coffee, tea, chocolate and soda contain some amounts of caffeine and need to be avoided at all costs (caffeine can aggravate the stress related symptoms of OCD), you can opt for a non-caffeinated beverage to soothe your senses. If you are addicted to caffeine, reduce its intake slowly for stopping it immediately can also cause headaches.
Limit Drinking Alcohol
Alcohol can provide intermittent relief from the symptoms of OCD, but fails to do so after its effects on the body wear away. If you are a frequent drinker, you may probably drink every time you start experiencing the symptoms of OCD. Although you don’t need to stop drinking alcohol altogether, it is considered necessary to limit its intake in order to let your body fight off the symptoms on its own.
Stop Using Nicotine
Similar to alcohol, nicotine provides temporary relief from the symptoms of OCD, but aggravates the same as and when the results of the nicotine start wearing off. And this can increase the stress related symptoms of OCD rather than controlling them. So make it a point to stop smoking or limit the use of nicotine to a minimum until the condition is completely under control.
Practice Deep Breathing
One of the best ways to control the symptoms of OCD is to train the mind to relax as and when the symptoms of the condition start occurring. And one way to do that is to practice deep breathing and other relaxation techniques on a daily basis.
Stress is attributed as the main (and the worst) symptom of OCD, and can trigger an avalanche of other related symptoms in a very short span of time. Handling stress is half the battle won in managing the symptoms of OCD. And relaxation techniques would help you achieve that effectively.
Some of the more common techniques you can opt for include deep breathing, meditation and yoga. You can also opt for other stress relieving activities like listening to music, reading a book, gardening or swimming whenever you feel stressed out.
Take A Warm Bath
Sometimes the best way to relax those frayed nerves would be to soak in a bath filled with warm water. You can add a few drops of an essential oil (any variety) to enhance the calming effect. Soak in the water for about 20 minutes until you feel relaxed and stress free.
Have A Massage
Ask a friend or family member to give you a gentle body massage whenever you feel stressed out. You can also opt for a massage as soon as you reach home after work every day.
This would relax your body and mind, and help you concentrate better on the household chores and duties without getting stressed out or anxious.
A 30 minute exercise routine every day can do wonders in controlling the symptoms of OCD. Exercising helps you train your mind to focus on other things as and when you start getting obsessive in your thoughts or compulsive in your behavior.
In addition to regular exercises like walking, jogging and swimming, opt for aerobic workouts that would help stimulate the release of the ‘feel good hormone’ called Endorphins, thereby boosting both physical and mental health.
Create a Delay Period
Most people with OCD generally know the actions or situations that cause them to experience OCD urges and thoughts. Trying to delay the response to these thoughts and compulsions can help control the symptoms of OCD to a great extent. This is called a delay period wherein a person with OCD pushes aside his obsessive thoughts and compulsive actions and tries to focus on something else for a short period of time.
At the end of the delay period, he/she would try to reassess the urges and thoughts. In almost all the cases, after the delay period, the concerned individual would feel less stressed about these thoughts and urges and would be able to control them to a great extent.
Let’s take an example. The next time you get an obsessive though or compulsive behavior, try pushing it to the back of your mind by focusing on a stress free activity like reading a book or listening to music. Push these obsessive thoughts to the back of your head, telling yourself that you would attend to them as soon as the delay period (30 minutes should do fine) is over.
Once the delay period is over, reassess the thought or urge you got and find out whether you experience the same level of anxiousness or stress when you think about it. You most surely will not! Practice this remedy diligently for some time and you would be able to control the symptoms of OCD to a great extent.
And Finally! Sleep properly
Inadequate sleep can cause conditions like insomnia which in turn can elevate the stress levels in the body and aggravate the symptoms of OCD. Make sure your body is well rested.
Sleep for at least 6 hours a day with at least 4 of those hours dedicated to an uninterrupted slumber. This way, your body and mind would feel fresh after you wake up, enabling you to maintain your emotional balance and control the stress related symptoms of OCD to an extent.