12 Tips for Coping With Headache

In support of National Headache Awareness Week (which is this week), the National Headache Foundation seeks to increase the quality of life for headache suffers. Based on the findings of the American Migraine Prevalence and Prevention survey, the NHF offers 12 lifestyle-related tips to help all headache patients, migraineurs or not, cope with and, ideally, reduce their headaches.

Work
The NHF asked which work situations might cause added stress and 50% replied worrying about deadlines, with 47% noting unpleasant tasks that they face.

  • Schedule a realistic day. Avoid the tendency to schedule back-to-back appointments for a breathing spell.
  • Allow 15 minutes of extra time to get to appointments. This way, unexpected delays won’t make you late.
  • Make sure your work space is ergonomically designed from your chair to your computer keyboard. Using a non-glare computer screen and proper lighting can also be helpful.
  • If an especially unpleasant task faces you, do it early in the day; then the rest of your day will be free of anxiety.

Home
When asked which home situations might increase their stress levels, 64% highlighted financial worries, while 55% answered fighting with their spouse and/or children. On a positive note, 43% said that spending time with family and friends helps them cope better.

  • Get up fifteen minutes earlier in the morning. The inevitable morning mishaps will be less stressful.
  • Prepare for the morning the evening before. Set the breakfast table, make lunches, put out the clothes you plan to wear, etc.
  • Don’t rely on your memory. Write down appointment times, when to pick up the laundry, when library books are due, etc. Crossing tasks off of your list gives a sense of accomplishment.
  • Don’t put up with something that doesn’t work. If your toaster, alarm clock, windshield wipers-or other item-is a source of aggravation, get them fixed or replace them.

Play
The NHF survey results reported that 63% of respondents felt that not having personal time was a stressor and 60% fail to schedule time out from their activities.

  • Check your breathing throughout the day, and before, during, and after high pressure situations. If you find your stomach muscles are knotted and your breathing is shallow, relax all your muscles and take several deep, slow breaths.
  • Try a yoga technique. Inhale deeply through your nose to the count of eight. Then, with lips puckered, exhale very slowly through your mouth for 16 counts, or for as long as you can. Concentrate on the long sighing sound and feel the tension dissolve. Repeat 10 times.
  • Use your weekend time for a change of pace. If your work week is slow and patterned, build action and time for spontaneity into your weekends. If your work week is fast-paced and full of deadlines, seek peace and solitude during your days off.
  • Allow yourself time every day for privacy, quiet and introspection.

Some of these tips suggest making major changes to your life and routines; not exactly easy, especially if you have severe headaches frequently. As with anytime you make big changes, adopting one new habit at a time will increase your chance of success. After all, you’re trying to reduce stress, not add to it.

Thanks to Teri Robert for the reminder that it’s National Headache Awareness Week.