Simple Ways to Avoid Headaches
For anyone who’s ever had a headache (and at 90% of the population that’s nearly everyone), you know they can range from frustrating to debilitating.
There are a myriad of reasons people get headaches, but the good news is oftentimes they are avoidable. We know the common causes: dehydration, sleep deprivation, stress and caffeine withdrawal…but there are many other reasons you may not be aware of.
For example, did you know that the nitrates in smoked meats or tyramine found in wine and cheeses can cause headaches? What about the glare from your computer screen? How’s your posture, because that can also contribute to dull head pain. What about noise sensitivity? And I’m not talking about your teenager practicing the drums – low, continuous sounds can set off a headache. How about food sensitivities? Or too much or too little physical activity? No wonder almost all of our population has experienced headaches – there are so many different ways to get one!
How to Prevent Headaches
Aside from the obvious – drinking plenty of water, getting enough sleep and not overdoing the caffeine – here are some other ways to help prevent headaches.
1) Deep breathing
Bringing awareness to your breath and focusing on deep inhales and exhales helps inundate your body with fresh oxygen calming stress and anxiety headaches.
2) Computer Breaks
If you work in front of a computer all day the glare might be causing your headache. Try turning down the brightness of the monitor and adding a desk lamp. Also don’t forget to give yourself periodic breaks where you get up and walk around, changing up your focal point and concentration.
3) Limit Noise
If noise is the problem, (like I mentioned above even a soft, continuous noise can be an irritant) try using headphones and playing calming music to soothe your stress response.
Both too much and too little exercise can cause headaches, like everything in life, find balance.
4) Do some Yoga!
Helps relieve stress and tension mentally and physically. It also helps align your neck and spine and improve your posture, all contributing factors for many headaches. Start a Free Online Yoga Trial if you’re looking for a quick and easy way to work some yoga into your routine!
5) Watch what, and how much, you Eat
Be mindful of what you put in your mouth. We all know too much caffeine (or caffeine withdrawals) can cause headaches. But, food additives, colors and dyes can also cause problems, as can food sensitivities. Pay attention to what you’ve eaten before your headache started. Common triggers include chocolate, alcohol, cheese, cured meats and aspartame. Eat small frequent meals. If you feel your headaches are a result of low blood sugar, eat smaller meals more often.
6) No more Gum!
Stop chewing gum. Studies have shown that for some people chewing gum is too stressful for the jaw, so if you notice your head start to throb while your chomping on a piece of Trident, spit it out.
7) Get your zzz’s…
Keep a regular sleep schedule and try to aim for 8 hours a night. Research has shown that people who got 6 hours of sleep or less were more likely to get a headache than those who slept more. But don’t sleep too much – that can be a trigger too. Balance.
If you are someone who suffers from persistent, devastating headaches, know that you are not alone. Headache care is a billion dollar a year industry here in the US. If medication is not getting the job done, here are some other, natural options to consider.
Biofeedback monitors bodily functions like temperature, muscle tension, heart rate and blood pressure then re-teaches the body how to control its responses helping to ease stress and tension headaches.
Acupuncture helps regulate qi or energy flow in the body, removing blockages, stagnations or excesses that could be causing headaches.
Yoga adds flexibility to your neck, back and spine which improves postures and re-aligns the vertebral column, relieving muscle tension headaches. It also de-stresses you physically and mentally through a combination of stretching, breath work and mediation.