Headaches happen to all of us. Unfortunately for some people, they arrive with a lot more frequency than for others. Learning how to manage headaches — especially migraines — is a lifelong mission, and sufferers welcome all the help they can get.
Every person’s body is unique and therefore requires a different method for reducing the occurrence of headaches. This is what’s called “headache hygiene,” which is the way you take care of yourself in order to reduce headache frequency and intensity.
Ready to be pain-free? The following tips will help you find the right formula for keeping your headaches to a minimum:
1. Stick to a Routine
The best way to reduce the frequency of your headaches is to maintain a routine. Changes in behavior, tempo, or activity make it more difficult for your body to adjust. As it tries to keep pace, headaches often occur.
There are several aspects of your daily routine where you should strive for consistency, including the following:
A lack of sleep is one of the easiest ways to wake up with a headache. You can also feel the pain from sleeping in too late. So try to go to bed and wake up at roughly the same times each day. Creating a sleep routine that puts you in that eight-hour sweet spot will minimize your risk of morning headaches.
Consistent migraine treatment will certainly help reduce the frequency of headaches you experience. Supplements such as magnesium and coenzyme Q10 have been found to reduce the occurrence of migraine attacks as well.
Exercise promotes good blood flow. It also generates beneficial chemicals that not only reduce your headaches, but help you feel physically better from head to toe. Just make sure you stay hydrated, or exercise will exacerbate your headaches.
Missing a meal can throw your body chemistry off balance. When your body lacks necessary nutrients, it can put you at risk of a headache. Certain foods, such as chocolate and cured meats, can also trigger headaches, so steer clear of them when planning your menus.
You don’t have to live life with the pedal to the metal 24/7. Schedule some needed breaks throughout your day to prevent yourself from getting too stressed or tired. Stress and fatigue are practically welcome mats for headaches, so do all you can to avoid both.
Your daily routine will be unique to you. Just be sure to follow general health guidelines that will prevent headaches from occurring and boost your overall wellness.
2. Minimize Tobacco and Alcohol Consumption
Tobacco and alcohol are addictive substances that can do a lot of harm when consumed in excess. Among their impacts is a higher likelihood of experiencing headaches. While a can of beer during the Super Bowl won’t do much harm, overuse of these substances can put strain on your body.
Caffeine is another chemical to keep an eye on. While it can quash a headache in the moment, beware of overreliance on caffeine. When you try to back off your overconsumption, you could experience withdrawal, spurring just as many headaches as withdrawal from any other addiction.
3. Work on Your Posture
Your posture plays a huge role in reducing the occurrence of headaches. Headaches are triggered by your nervous system, and when nerves are pinched or stretched, they can send pain-causing triggers to your brain.
Work on keeping your back and neck straight whenever possible. It will take a conscious effort to make the adjustments, especially with all the time we spend bent over technology. If you work with a computer, seek out ergonomic office equipment that promotes good posture.
4. Reduce Your Stress Levels
When you’re feeling stressed, you’ll likely experience a headache along with it. The best long-term solution for reducing headache frequency is to eliminate stressors.
This is obviously easier said than done, but there are steps you can take to mitigate stress in all of its forms. Work stress is one of the most common variations out there. If you’re feeling overworked, talk to your supervisor about delegating certain tasks or extending project timelines to help reduce your stress levels.
Be sure to approach stress reduction as a gradual, long-term effort, though. Why? Because according to researchers at Montefiore Headache Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine, migraines can also be caused by abrupt “stress let-down.” So rather than going full tilt one day and full couch potato the next, strive to balance your stress levels across the entire week.
5. Recognize Common Triggers
If you can recognize the common triggers for your headaches, you can avoid or remove them before they do any damage. For example, loud music or flashing lights almost guarantee an oncoming headache for some individuals. Steer clear of those triggers, and you’ll be alright.
Recognize, too, that triggers can change from year to year. The multiple explosions in a superhero movie might not have bothered you when you were in your 20s, but perhaps they do now. To avoid a painful headache, you’ll want to change your viewing choices accordingly.
Having a hard time identifying the causes of your headache? Keep a journal tracking each time you experience pain. You may uncover a pattern that reveals the source(s) of your headaches and help you understand what to do to prevent another episode.
If you’re ready to stop letting frequent headaches control your life, put these tips into action. You’ll be able to do so much more simply by making lifestyle changes that reduce the frequency with which you experience headaches.