Tension headaches are annoying. They don’t cause the severe pain of a migraine or illness-related headache, but they make life more difficult. Simple tasks like finishing a day of work, hanging out with friends, doing groceries, or simply enjoying yourself are hard to do. It’s just that mounting pressure making your head feel heavy.
Tension headaches are a result of tightness in the shoulders, neck, and scalp. They are frequent experiences for some and irregular for others, but they are common nonetheless. And when they do appear, they make life miserable.
While some people are quick to reach for the “Aspirin,” “Tylenol,” “Advil,” or the like, these short-term solutions don’t prevent future occurrences or really do anything to “fix” the problem. They are band-aid solutions that fail to address the real causes of tension headaches. The best way to limit the impact of tension headaches is to make some easy lifestyle adjustments, like getting enough sleep, eating right, and trying to limit your exposure to stressors.
One of the biggest reasons you might experience tension headaches is because you’re not getting enough sleep. When the body is tired it’s more difficult to think and perform basic tasks, leading to increased risk for stress and tension headaches. If you find yourself battling tension headaches on a regular basis, try shutting down a little bit earlier in the evening and getting a little more sleep. If you don’t have time for that, try taking a 20- to 30-minute nap in the afternoon. Getting more sleep eases tension, reduces stress, and gets you ready in multiple ways for the obstacles you face every day.
Tension headaches also arise when you’re not fed properly. When blood sugar gets low and you’re hungry, it can greatly increase the chances of a tension headache cropping up. In order to prevent this from happening, make sure you don’t skip any meals and try to eat every two to four hours. Your body performs better when there is fuel in the tank, so be sure your diet consists of lots of fruits, veggies, lean protein, healthy carbs, and healthy fats.
Taking a step back and slowing down can also help prevent tension headaches. Pace yourself and don’t take on too much at once. This helps alleviate stress, tension, and worrying, all of which can cause these nasty headaches.
If you adopt a daily routine of relaxation techniques, you can prevent tension headaches, too. The key is to practice them daily. Spend some time when you get home with a warm heating pad around your neck and shoulders to reduce tension and loosen the muscles. Stretching affected areas helps, so trying to get some exercise and developing stretching routines can relieve pain and tension, too. Whatever you choose to do, be sure to practice these techniques regularly to keep you loose and limber.
Tension headaches don’t have to be a part of your life, even though it may seem like that. Instead of waiting for your next headache to hit and reaching for a painkiller, try to make these simple adjustments to stave off tension headaches altogether. They will make you feel better overall and hopefully, they won’t just fix the headaches, but they will also create a healthier, more comfortable you.
Source for Today’s Article:
Campellone, J., “Managing tension headaches at home,” National Institutes of Health web site, October 29, 2013; http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/patientinstructions/000421.htm, last accessed September 26, 2014.