Everyone experiences headaches at some point, and they can quickly turn debilitating, affecting your ability to participate in your daily activities. Sometimes they go away with little effort, and other times they show up often and seem to never go away, no matter what you try. Tension headaches, cluster headaches, sinus headaches, migraines – no matter what type of headache, getting headache relief or migraine relief is all that matters in that moment. Whether you’re experiencing headaches now or not, be prepared the next time one pops up with our top ways to relieve headaches. Below, we’re sharing natural recommendations for headache relief without the use of medication, so you can get to the root of the issue!
1. Stretching and Posture Exercises
Poor posture is a major cause of headaches, especially if you sit at a desk or use your phone for the majority of the day. Working on a computer, using your phone, or even reading a book can cause your neck to work in a forward leaning position. Without proper strength and support, this will create tension in your upper back, neck, and shoulders, leading to headaches.
If you’re experiencing a headache and tightness in your muscles, we suggest readjusting your posture, taking a break, or changing your working position throughout the day. Utilize chest, shoulder, and neck exercises and stretches to release tension and build muscles to make holding better posture easier in the future.
2. Electrolytes and Hydration
Another common cause of headaches is dehydration and lack of electrolytes. An electrolyte imbalance or deficiency is quick to cause a variety of health concerns, one being headaches and migraines! If you’re feeling fatigued, dizzy, weak, or are cramping alongside your headache, an electrolyte imbalance could be the cause.
Don’t be too quick to think you need just water if you have a headache; drinking too much water could result in a greater imbalance by diluting electrolytes like sodium in your blood. Consider an electrolyte drink or mix that includes sodium, potassium, and magnesium, but watch out for sugar content. Mixes and drinks with too much sugar could cause more headaches later in the day, as well as other health problems caused by too much added sugar.
3. Vitamins and Minerals
If you have a headache, it could also be caused by a deficiency of certain vitamins or minerals, such as:
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin B
If you’re deficient in any of these vitamins and minerals, you’re likely to have headaches more often.
Start out with spending a few minutes in the sun every day! The sun is an important source of Vitamin D and could be an easy solution to help ease your headache, especially if you spend a lot of time indoors or it’s been gloomy outside. A Vitamin D supplement is also an option, but we recommend speaking with a healthcare provider before taking supplements to reduce risk of overdosing.
Magnesium is a mineral which is also largely important to your body, and people are often deficient. Magnesium regulates your blood pressure, heart beat, and has to be present for Vitamin D to become bioavailable. If you don’t have enough magnesium, you probably won’t have enough Vitamin D!
All vitamin B, but especially B2, play a role in preventing headaches, as well. Vitamin B will help improve energy metabolism and decrease frequency of headaches. Again, we recommend speaking with your healthcare provider before incorporating new supplements so you can work out the proper dosage for your personal health.
Headaches are the perfect excuse to pamper yourself to a massage. If you’re having headaches frequently, tight muscles could be the cause of it, especially if you work at a computer or sit for long periods of time each day. Massage therapy releases tension that’s built up in your muscles and helps relieve shortened muscles.
If you receive massage therapy, ask for help on your shoulders, neck, and jaw to make sure you address all areas that could be causing your headaches.
5. Healthy Sleep Patterns
Research has proven a lack of healthy sleep patterns can contribute to migraines and tension headaches, specifically a lack of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. REM sleep happens in 90-120 minute intervals, so if you’re not sleeping enough, you’re probably not getting enough REM sleep.
Not getting enough sleep reduces the body’s pain threshold, meaning headaches can feel more powerful and come on quicker. But be careful to not sleep too much, because that can cause headaches, too. Getting too much sleep can interfere with the neurotransmitters in your brain, in short leading to morning headaches.
6. Reducing Light and Screen Exposure
In this digital age, migraines and headaches are frequently caused by too much screen time. If you’re constantly in front of a screen, try to take frequent breaks, not sit too close to the screen, and keep the brightness of your screen the same as the natural lighting around you.
If the glare is an issue, try a screen protector and blue light glasses. All of this can help reduce the frequency of your headaches, as well as eye strain, dry eyes, and blurry vision. When the opportunity presents itself, move your eyes away from the screen and switch to old-school paper.
7. Stress Management
While stress is an inevitable part of life, learning how to manage and cope with your stress can prevent your daily headaches as well. Stress causes tight muscles and teeth grinding, leading to frequent migraines and tension headaches. Managing stress looks different for everyone, so finding what works best for you is important and might take a few different tries. Some common options for reducing stress are:
- Meditation, yoga, tai chi, and deep breathing
- Exercising regularly
- Eating less-inflammatory foods
- Seeking support from friends, family, or professional therapist
- Managing time wisely
- Taking breaks and resting when needed
- Decreasing harmful habits
- Taking part in social interaction
Identifying which of these solutions work for you based on what type of headache you have or where the headache is centralized will be a large advantage to you in the future to relieve your headaches. Next time you’re experiencing headaches or migraines, try out some of these solutions!
If your headaches are growing in frequency, severity, coming on quickly, or painkillers and natural solutions don’t resolve them, you should talk to a healthcare provider.
To schedule an appointment with an Avance Care provider, visit here.