If you suffer with headaches or migraines, you know how frustrating it is to have the pain hit and interrupt your work, vacation, or taking care of your family. While effective treatments exist for almost all types of headaches and migraines, they can vary in the amount of time they take to create relief. The more you can prevent the headaches and migraines from occurring in the first place the better.
These healthy habits won’t eliminate headaches for everyone, but most people who integrate them notice steady progress. Begin with these tips today!
Find a new drink
Caffeine can help relieve some headaches and migraines but continued, regular consumption can increase headache frequency. And, you can even experience caffeine withdrawal headaches if you don’t get your daily fix. Taper caffeine intake and substitute herbal tea and infused (non-sweetened) water in place of caffeinated drinks.
Make your time in bed count
The quality and quantity of your sleep has a huge impact on your overall health and wellbeing. Five to six hours of sleep a night? That’s not going to cut it long term. Make sleep a priority and establish a bedtime routine. Nothing will have a bigger impact on your long term health.
You know you should take care of yourself first. After all, how many times have you heard people use the metaphor ‘put the oxygen mask on yourself first’ in an emergency situation before helping your child on a plane? This can be difficult for anyone, and even more difficult if you suffer from an ‘invisible illness’ like migraines and people can’t see your pain. People may be asking things of you and have no idea that you actually feel awful. Learn how to say no to what others want or need you to do if it means it’s going to compromise what you need to stay healthy.
Incorporate breathing and mindfulness
Just five minutes of mindful breathing can decrease stress and improve your concentration. Over time this can lead to decreased headaches. Start here for a five minute guided meditation.
Regular exercise can reduce the frequency and intensity of headaches and migraines. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, which are the body’s natural painkillers. Exercise reduces stress and helps you to sleep at night. Some people get headaches or migraines when they exercise. One possible reason for this is the physical reaction to the elevation of blood pressure. This is not a reason to avoid exercise though. Instead, incorporate a 10-15 minute warm up, which will help your body prepare for more vigorous exercise and can help prevent headaches associated with exercise.
Think of your food as fuel
It is especially important to eat three meals a day with a snack at night or 6 small meals spread though out the day. Keep processed food to a minimum, instead focusing on whole foods with few additives. Some foods are also linked to headaches. Here are a list of foods that may cause or worsen headaches or migraines in some individuals.
- Alcohol, specifically red wine
- Aspartame sweetener
- Beans and other tyramine-containing foods
- Caffeine (often found in foods, beverages, and medicines)
- Cheeses and yogurt
- Chinese food or other soups and foods containing MSG
- Processed meats (containing sulfites-eg, bacon, sausages, salami, ham)
The take home message
When you invest time and energy into incorporating these healthy habits, your payoff will be fewer headache and migraine days. This means more time with family, excelling at work, and enjoying vacation without headaches and migraines cramping your style. Start with one habit at a time and you’ll notice big gains over a few week period!
If you’d like to know more about how healthy lifestyle habits can improve your headaches or migraines, click the button below and we will be in touch!
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