Last Updated on November 5, 2023 by Asfa Rasheed
Persistent headaches can derail the best-laid plans. If your headaches have gone from sporadic to practically expected, it may be time to consider a different approach.
Persistent headaches often stem from lifestyle choices, health issues, and environmental factors. Now is the time to dig into what’s causing your headaches and discover how to manage and, hopefully, resolve them.
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It’s almost like clockwork. Every few days or so, you can guarantee that a headache will ruin your day. Whether your pain makes you sensitive to light, sounds, or incites nausea, any headache can distract you.
Start cracking the code by creating a headache diary where you track your activity for at least one month. Include your waking and sleeping times, dietary choices, and activities. Note the day you have headaches, your pain level, additional symptoms, and how you attempted to treat the pain.
Over the span of a month, you can begin to see a pattern develop. Keep your diary for a minimum of 30 days, but try to shoot for 90 days. A 90-day time frame gives you a better picture of what an average month looks like, since you’re comparing three of them.
In tracking your habits for 30 to 90 days, you may uncover some behaviors that you need to change. If you’ve been subsisting on five hours of sleep each night, your sleep deficit may be to blame. Conversely, certain foods can be migraine-inducing for those who are sensitive to them. Foods like yeast-laden bread, dairy, and chocolate taste great but may trigger migraines.
Alcohol may make the weekend mornings a drag. While going completely dry can be a big ask, pay attention to certain beverages that cause you more pain. Herbal-infused liqueurs can be headache-inducing. Stick to the drinks that are kinder to you the next day.
Approximately 80% of people who get migraines suffer from photophobia, or a pronounced sensitivity to light. A 2016 study of migraine patients found that blue light, in particular, was the “most photophobic” kind of light. If you’re on your computer or another digital device and don’t protect your eyes, blue light can exacerbate your migraine symptoms.
Get blue-blocking lenses in prescription or computer-only glasses to reduce your exposure. There are also screen covers that attach to your monitor to reduce blue light. Adjust your settings to inverse display and use the day-to-night feature to decrease your screen’s brightness. These changes can alleviate your light sensitivity and help relieve your pain.
In advance of serious migraines or to help downgrade your pain, consider natural remedies as a part of your plan. Aromatherapy using essential oils in lavender and peppermint scents can be soothing.
Explore lymphatic drainage massage using your hands or tools like jade rollers, gua sha stones, and ice rollers. This type of massage encourages lymph fluid to drain from your lymph nodes, which can reduce congestion and pain. This approach also decreases puffiness in the face and can reduce sinus pressure associated with seasonal changes and allergies.
If natural remedies aren’t doing the trick, consider speaking to a medical professional about your symptoms and triggers. You even have the option to seek medication from your home, with migraine, anxiety, and even acne treatment options now available online.
Your painful headaches can easily ruin your day. And you may be at a breaking point where you’re willing to do almost anything to get rid of them. Once you know what’s causing your pain and potential ways to address it, you may need to adjust your lifestyle. Consider reducing overall screen time or breaking it up to give your eyes a break.
Some people may find that their headaches peak at a certain time of day or in particular environments. Do what you can to adjust your exposure to these triggers. Work to reduce your schedule during those times to allow yourself to rest and recover from your headache. Be sure to inform key people like your family, friends, and co-workers of what you are trying to manage. Informing them of your situation can help them be mindful of what you are going through.
Even in the midst of a major headache episode, the demands of life go on. But when you have a solid migraine management plan, you have the support system you need when a headache strikes.
Prepare for the days when you just can’t keep up by deferring responsibility to others for child care and work. Tap into your sick days — sans guilt — if you are having a debilitating episode. You’ll be better off taking the time to rest as opposed to pushing through the pain.
Keep frozen meals on hand to have easy dinners at the ready while you manage your migraine. Have a headache go-kit that you can use to care for yourself when the pain hits. Deploy your headache management routine as soon as you feel one coming on so you can get back to being yourself as soon as you can. Once you’re pain-free, you’ll be happy to jump back into the mayhem of life.