Getting a headache can ruin a day. And while some headaches can be treated or prevented with medicine, enough science has shown that drugs such as acetaminophen and aspirin can have some pretty serious side effects like nausea, itching, dizziness, rashes and liver damage. If you don’t find the medicine working, or you want to avoid being dependent on medication, then here are some easy lifestyle tips that can decrease the risk of and severity of your headaches.
Meditation not only has tangible mental effects, but it also has physical benefits as well. The American Migraine Foundation recommends meditation and mindfulness as a way to counteract certain triggers of headaches such as high stress or high blood pressure. Meditation has been shown to decrease stress and lower blood pressure with continuous use. Finding a way to meditate has never been easier with video walkthroughs online and a plethora of apps to help you get started.
Lack of sleep is another trigger for headaches, but people today are getting less sleep than ever. Getting the recommended amount of sleep a night is one of the best ways to help prevent future headaches. This is becoming more and more difficult with the rise of screen usage, but there are certain items out there like blue light blocking screen protectors which can help mitigate the strain modern technology has on your eyes, mimic natural light, and allow you to get the sleep your body desperately needs.
Getting regular exercise can reduce the amount and intensity of headaches you get. By exercising your brain releases endorphins which act as natural painkillers. Exercising also reduces stress, which as stated before, is a trigger of headaches. While exercising make sure to stay properly hydrated because dehydration is a major trigger in headaches, you’d hate to cause the very thing you are trying to prevent! Even if you don’t want to go to a gym, going on a walk or doing simple exercises at home is enough to help.
Your diet can also have an influence on your susceptibility to headaches. Certain foods have been found as triggers. Things like aged cheese, alcohol, foods containing MSG, processed meat and even bananas are known to cause headaches. Other foods like coffee or chocolate have conflicting reports on whether they help or hurt.
Additionally your eating habits themselves can also affect your likeness to get a headache. If you find yourself getting headaches before meals it might mean you have low blood sugar, which is a trigger. Some doctors recommend eating many small meals throughout the day to keep your blood sugar more stable and your appetite manageable. Dehydration as mentioned before is also a large trigger. Doctors recommend around 8 glasses of water a day to keep yourself fully hydrated. It may be worth it to keep a water bottle on you so you can make sure you have easy access to water.
5. Keep a Headache Diary
If you are chronically getting headaches, it may be a good idea to invest in a headache diary. This is not only useful to you to possibly see patterns in what triggers your headaches, but if the situation becomes too much, it can also help your doctor as well. Some items to write in your diary include:
- Starting and ending time
- Pain level (from 1 to 10)
- Any medications used
- Foods eaten during the day
- Stress level
- Or anything else you might suspect that could contribute
By staying diligent about your diary, you will have a ton of information to help guide you in the future on the choices you should be making to avoid your headaches.
Headaches can sometimes feel like they come out of nowhere, but it is clear that there are certain triggers which can cause them or even make them worse. By following this advice, and making some of these changes, you can reduce your risk and lower your susceptibility.