Have you had a headache recently? Chances are high that you had one in the last couple of months, most people suffering from headaches at least once a year. I have, very often, and it wasn’t nice at all. In fact I have had headaches for as long as I can remember (well, they started when I was a teenager really). I have done many researched and talked to many people about it but there is something obvious that doesn’t really help much: they are many different causes to headaches and everyone is different so it is very hard to isolate ‘the’ cause of a headache. Actually, it is often an addition of causes that will lead to a headache.
For example I have tight muscles in my neck, if I have a bit too much wine one evening, forget about drinking water and don’t sleep much that’s it, the day after I am 100% sure to have a very bad headache. Or sometimes I just feel that I slept in a funny position, my neck probably crooked, then I get angry and stressed for some stupid reason and that’s it, an hour later my head is pounding and I am desperately looking for the last two tablets of paracetamol that I spotted in the mess of my hand bag two days ago. And it goes on like that: tight muscles, food and drinks, emotions are all triggers to headaches.
So think about yourself; when do you have a headache? Can you find the source of it? Maybe it would be a good idea to keep a journal of what you eat and drink, your daily activities and your moods to be able to pin point where your headache came from. It can be life changing, I tell you!
Knowing yourself is the key to getting better. Find what causes it and get in control. It is easier said than done and patience will be your best ally. Here are a couple of things that you can do:
1. Get hands on: Typically when a headache starts I just want to lie down, stay in the dark and do nothing, especially move, as I wait for the pain relief to kick in. For the last couple of months I have tried a different technique that has proofed to work pretty well: I massage myself. I interlace my fingers and use both my thumb to massage the base of my skull. Having the hands interlaced allow me to exercise pressure at the base of neck and massage my whole neck without actually using much strength. I push at the base of the skull, where I can feel the little cavity where my thumbs will naturally fall. Then I go down then spine pulling the muscles away from it. I do it a couple of times. Then I massage the base of my skull up to my ears. It’s heaven and finding those knots help me trust that I really need a good massage. Then I massage my skull, especially where it hurts: by rubbing gently I move the skin and give the body the message to bring more blood in there, therefore helping the muscles to relax. I rub, scratch push and pull; it works wonderfully to bring movement and help the blood circulate more freely, hence reducing the pain. It’s good to do it as soon as you feel the first symptoms of a starting headache otherwise it will just be too painful to even think about it.
2. I book an appointment to have a proper 1 hour massage on my head, neck and upper back; because nothing can replace a good deep work that’s going to keep me going for weeks without even having to think about my headaches. Most headaches originate in tight muscles in the neck so if you get those relaxed, you are pretty good to go pain free for a while. Beside, with smartphones and computers, we bow our head a lot more than we are supposed to, bringing it out of alignment. Therefore it is not properly supported by the spine as it should and the muscles have to work a lot more to hold the head in place. The poor guys are doing extra work that they are not supposed to do and we need to realize that.
3. So knowing that my body and especially my neck are under so much pressure, I help them by regularly stretching them… patiently! I use one of my hand on the opposite hear to intensify the stretch and point the opposite hand towards the floor too to create a nice stretch. Then I play with the angle of my chin to target different muscle groups. And I do it very slowly! I use both my hands on my head to bring it forward and feel a good stretch. Then I remember to roll my shoulders too.
4. I practice yoga. It is the best way to know your body and correct your posture. I could write for hours on why we are in such bad shapes nowadays and why practicing yoga is very important but I’ll make it short: practice yoga, find a teacher you like and give your body the workout it needs. You look after your car, look after your body even better: regular exercise and check ups. Headaches can start from tight upper and middle back as well so getting those stretches and working as they should will greatly help you overcome your headaches.
5. I drink plenty of fluid, water actually as juice is just full of sugar and really not necessary. I don’t even mention fizzy drinks as you certainly already know how bad they are. 2 liters of water a day is a minimum really and most headaches start with dehydration. Instead of having one full glass of water I have two in a row, then I’m sure that I’m good for the next 30 min.
6. I take magnesium supplement every day. I often say it to my clients: magnesium is the muscles’ best friend. It helps them to relax, then it helps headaches too as it will help to relax the neck muscles. It is as well helping with stress, anxiety and sleeping problems, all that are related to headaches. A must really!
7. Practice meditation and mindfulness. I then don’t lose the plot (that often;-) and can get my stress and anger issues under control. I am happier, more settle and think more clearly. Meditation transforms my life in many ways, reducing my headaches being one of them. Feel free to check my online shop to give it a try.
8. I stay informed. I like to know about food that can trigger headaches. After seeing a kinesiologist last year we found out that I had a built of toxins in my body that where leading to brain fog and headaches. The ‘food’ being: acidity regulators, bad salt, food coloring and preservatives. No need to say that eating processed food over 30 years as damaged my body obliging me to switch to an organic healthy diet. Since eating organic food that I cook at home the old fashion way I have drastically reduce my brain fog and headaches. I am honestly in shock with today’s way of eating and becoming a big defender of eating organic. Because this is how nature intended to be and it helps the local kiwi economy too. So get informed, find out about what you put in your body, then make up your mind about what’s good for you and what’s not.
9. Other tips that I might not use all the time but that work great anyway:
– Peppermint oil at the base of your nostrils and on your forehead: instant relief that work! Again, use an organic one!
– Ice pack or cold flannel on the forehead
– warm foot bath with Epsom salt
I really hope that by reading his article you’ll get a few more ideas about ways that you can deal with your headaches. One last word: You are in control of your body and your mind, no one else. So you do have some power over what happens to you. Try to get better yourself but if nothing works then consult someone, a doctor, a physio, a massage therapist, a kinesiologist or a chiropractor. If you need references I have some so don’t hesitate to ask me!
Thank you very much for reading me, I wish you all the best in your recovery!