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How to Help Yourself with Headaches

Headaches are no joke. Although a lot of people brush them off as a minor inconvenience where you can take some Tylenol and then get on with your day, for many of us, they are much more serious, more painful and more debilitating than that, especially if they are chronic or migraine headaches.

The good news is, no matter how bad they are, it is possible to fight back against the headaches and migraines that are plaguing your life and making it so that even a sunny day can cure your pain. Here’s how.

1. Hydrate Like You Mean It

We need to talk about water. Your brain is about 75% water, so when you’re dehydrated, it feels like your head’s stuck in a vice. Drinking water might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s often overlooked. Keep a water bottle handy and sip throughout the day, even before you feel thirsty. Your brain will thank you by not squeezing itself into a migraine.

2. Visit a Chiropractor

Sometimes, the root of your headache could be a literal pain in the neck. Misalignments in the spine can cause significant tension headaches and migraines. A chiropractor can work their magic by adjusting your spine and neck, releasing the tension, and potentially easing that relentless pounding in your head. Just make sure you choose a registered professional who is most suitable for you, for example, an auto accident chiropractor may be better for you if your headaches re a result of a crash where as a sports chiropractor may be better for you if you have a sports injury.

3. Magnesium: The Miracle Mineral

Magnesium has been called a natural headache remedy, and for good reason. This mighty mineral helps relax nerves and muscles, counteracting the effects of stress. It’s especially good for those with migraines. Before you start popping pills, though, try incorporating more magnesium-rich foods into your diet, like almonds, spinach, and bananas. It’s like eating your way out of pain.

4. Essential Oils: A Scent-sational Relief

Peppermint and lavender essential oils are not just for making your home smell like a spa. They can also provide relief from headaches. Peppermint oil can help control blood flow in the body, and lavender oil is known for its relaxing and pain-relieving effects. A few drops on your temples or the back of your neck can be just what the doctor (or aromatherapist) ordered.

5. Get Moving with Gentle Exercise

Exercise might be the last thing on your mind when you have a headache, but it can actually help. Gentle activities like walking or yoga can boost circulation and release endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers. Just remember, this isn’t the time for a CrossFit session—keep it low-key.

6. Master the Art of Relaxation

Stress is a huge trigger for headaches and migraines. Learning how to manage stress through relaxation techniques can be a game-changer. Try meditation, deep-breathing exercises, or yoga. Or find a quiet corner, put on some soothing music, and just breathe. Imagine sending your headache off on a little relaxing river cruise.

7. Create a Headache Haven

Your environment can also play a big role in managing headaches. Bright lights, loud noises, and even strong smells can be triggers. Try creating a headache-friendly zone in your home. Dim the lights, reduce noise, maybe even banish strong scents and let your senses take a mini-vacation.

8. Monitor Your Diet

Sometimes food is the culprit. Common triggers include aged cheeses, red wine, processed meats, and yes, sadly, even chocolate. Keep a food diary to see if there’s a link between what you eat and your headaches. It’s a bit detective work, and you’re the sleuth figuring out which food is the villain in your headache saga.

9. Sleep It Off

Never underestimate the power of a good sleep schedule. Irregular sleep patterns can trigger headaches in some people. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night, and try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Think of your bedroom as a cave of wonders where sleep is the most wonderful treasure of all.

10. Acupuncture: Pinpointing Relief

For those open to alternative therapies, acupuncture has been touted as a potential lifesaver for chronic headache sufferers. This ancient Chinese medicine technique involves inserting very fine needles into specific points on the body to alleviate pain. It’s thought to boost the body’s natural painkilling chemicals and improve circulation. Consider giving it a try—it might just be the point of relief you need!

11. Screen Time Moderation

In our digital world, excessive screen time can be a major headache trigger, thanks to the strain it puts on your eyes. Give your peepers a break by practicing the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. Also, consider adjusting the brightness and contrast of your screen to reduce glare, or use blue light filters to lessen exposure to harsh light that can trigger pain.

12. The Power of Biofeedback

Biofeedback is a technique that teaches you to control bodily processes that are typically involuntary—like muscle tension and heart rate—which can be helpful in managing headache symptoms. Through sensors connected to your body, you can watch on a screen how your physical responses change in real time and learn to control them. It’s like turning into a superhero who can tame their own physiological responses!

13. Organize Your Space

Clutter can be a surprising source of stress and headaches. Taking time to organize your living and workspaces can help reduce anxiety and improve your overall mental health. This doesn’t mean you have to achieve minimalist perfection, but finding a place for everything can significantly reduce daily frustrations and potential headache triggers.

14. Herbal Remedies

Certain herbs, such as feverfew and butterbur, have been used historically to reduce headache frequency and severity. They can be taken in various forms, such as capsules, teas, or extracts. However, it’s important to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any herbal regimen, especially if you’re pregnant, nursing, or taking other medications, to avoid any adverse interactions.

15. When to See a Doctor

If your headaches are frequent, severe, or just different than your usual pattern, it’s time to see a doctor. Sometimes headaches can be a sign of something more serious, and it’s better to get it checked out. This isn’t the time for internet diagnoses—leave it to the pros.

Headache? What headache?

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