Irritable Bowel Disease Syndrome
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Managing Irritable Bowel Syndrome Course
Duration: 6 weeks, self-placed
Why Do I Clean My House So Much?
If you relate to what we described above, you are possibly engaging in obsessive cleaning and tidying. Even though keeping the house clean is a sign of a healthy mind, constant thoughts about it can be harmful.
Take a minute and write down why you clean so much. Is it because the house is a mess or because you constantly “think’ it needs cleaning? If you observe your thoughts, you will notice a big difference between a house being clean and never been clean enough.
While cleanliness and tidiness are important, obsessive cleaning and tidying can be very unhealthy. This is because you “want” and “need” to clean the house. These thoughts are like a stuck tape recorder that keeps going on and on. It becomes difficult to stop them. They are a result of chemical imbalance in the brain.
What Is Obsessive Cleaning and Tidying?
Have you heard of the proverb – cleanliness is next to godliness? Do you know what this means? A person or place that is pure and clean is considered to be close to God. Now, let us apply this to our lives, especially our thoughts. You may get reoccurring and unwanted thoughts about the house not being clean. Therefore, you start feeling uneasy and act according to these thoughts. This causes obsessive cleaning and tidying of the house.
To stop these thoughts, you will keep on cleaning the house. You will also observe that this need stops you from going out. This is because you are busy cleaning. Sometimes, you may also focus so much on cleaning that you neglect your work. And hence, these thoughts disrupt our lives.
Healthy Cleaning V/S Unhealthy Cleaning
We know that keeping the house clean and tidy is a sign of an emotionally healthy person. However, when our unwanted thoughts force us to clean all the time, it is unhealthy. Let us look at the difference with a simple example. What do you think is the right thing to do when you come home from work and see clothes just piled up on top of each other? How about when you come home and see everything is clean, but just one chair in the dining area is not in its place? How would you handle both these situations?
If you clean the mess in the first situation, that is healthy. However, if a moved chair upsets you and you start rearranging it in the “exact” order, that is unhealthy. It is extremely unhealthy to stress over a speck of dust or books arranged in the wrong order.
Different Ways You Keep the House Clean
There are different ways in which people show obsessive cleaning and tidying behaviors. Some people worry about getting germs all over their bodies, while others may worry about keeping things in the exact place. In this section, we will describe the commonly seen patterns of cleaning.
Do you feel you have germs or dirt on your hands even when they are clean? Sometimes you may feel as if these germs are evil and harming you. At other times, you may feel as though you are transferring germs onto others. If you constantly have these thoughts, you will always try to keep the house clean.
Evenness and Order
Let us take the chair example explained earlier. Do you try keeping everything in a particular order? Are your dishes, spoons, forks, or knives kept in the same order all the time? How about your clothes? If things are not arranged in a particular way, do you feel upset? Sometimes, people who find it difficult to express anger display such behaviors. Alternately, people who are dealing with past traumas also behave in this manner.
In this type of obsessive cleaning and tidying, people keep checking things again and again. They check if the house or things are in the correct order all the time. People also check if the stove is off, the light is off and the door is locked. A person may pick every small corner of their room and keep cleaning and re-cleaning it.
Rituals to Keep Your House Clean
Another common type of cleaning is following certain rituals. To deal with this anxiety, people start following a particular pattern. If they don’t follow the ritual, they “feel’ something will go wrong. Following these rituals makes them feel more in control of the situation.
The Way Forward
Living with these constant thoughts can be extremely tiring. Moreover, even if you try and stop them, they refuse to go away. You may fight the need to clean but the repeated thoughts make it very difficult. So, eventually, you give in to them. Remember, unwanted and intrusive thoughts can cause a lot of anxiety. People feel like they lose control over their thoughts. However, there is nothing to worry about, we will give you some simple ways to handle them.
Medication to Stop Thoughts on Keeping House Clean
As we mentioned earlier, an imbalance in chemicals may cause these frequent thoughts. So, when these obsessive cleaning and tidying behaviors do not reduce, visit a doctor. The doctor will give you medicines to balance these chemicals. With the help of a doctor, you can bring these thoughts under control. We recommend visiting a doctor when the problem completely upsets your personal and work life.
Meeting an Expert
Another option that you can choose is meeting an expert, especially a therapist. Some commonly used therapies are Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). Both these methods work on changing your thoughts and behaviors. Along with this, you can work on your fears, anxiety, and worries.
While we understand it can be difficult to control these thoughts, all is not lost. You can always enroll in our self-help course – “Perfectionism“. This course will help you understand your thoughts, change them and live a healthier life.