If you are someone that has the misfortune of experiencing regular headaches and/or migraines, you probably are frustrated by the constant threat of headaches every day. And when one comes on, it is so defeating because you know it could put you down for hours, or even days! You find yourself reaching for the quick fix of NSAIDS or any other pain reliever, just to keep going. As migraine and headache awareness month winds down, it’s time we talk about some actionable steps for those of you that suffer from headaches and migraines. Here are my top 5 tips to tackle your headaches and migraines:
- Evaluate for any food allergies or sensitivities, and remove those from your diet. I had a good friend who would get the most debilitating migraines. They would put him out for a whole day. He would have to just stay in a dark and quiet room for hours on end just resting with his eyes closed to even get a little relief. We began to notice that every time he ate pizza, he would get a migraine, so we started to connect the dots. After investigating, we figured out that he had a dairy sensitivity. Now, with that knowledge, he primarily avoids dairy products and his migraines have disappeared.
- Drink plenty of water. One of the most common reasons people get a headache is dehydration. As a society, we are pretty chronically dehydrated. The goal is to drink half of your body weight in ounces daily. Now remember, any coffee, energy drinks, juice, soda, etc. go AGAINST your water consumption for the day, so you need to drink additional water to make up for that. This is primarily where our society ends up chronically dehydrated, so make sure you take that into account when calculating your water needs for the day.
- Practice some deep breathing techniques. Breathing is one of the most overlooked things we do…because it is so autonomic that we don’t even think about it. And most of us are chronically hyperventilating, and poorly oxygenating. Practicing breathwork allows our body to move into a more parasympathetic dominant state and increases the oxygen we are delivering throughout our body. This is one of the best practices to start with when addressing headaches.
- Soothe and stretch your muscles with some yoga. Another one of our most common headaches are tension headaches. A great way to work on decreasing our tension and thus finding relief from headaches, is to practice yoga. This incorporates both the breath techniques we just discussed, and stretching. If we can allow the muscles in our back, neck, and chest to relax, they stop pulling on our head and allow for increased blood flow and oxygenation, thus decreasing headaches.
- Try some magnesium. Chronic dehydration and stress can also lead to an imbalance in electrolytes. Magnesium is one of our electrolytes that helps with stress relief and muscle relaxation. If the primary culprits of your headaches are stress and/or tension, taking some magnesium could be a great way to tackle the headache before jumping to NSAIDS or other pain relievers.
Headaches are annoying for many, and can be debilitating for some. So next time you feel one coming on before jumping to the pharmaceutical option, maybe try the techniques above and see if they bring some relief. And remember, I’m always here for more support if you need more ideas!