Snow has arrived, Thanksgiving has come and gone, and now we prepare for the winter holidays. The holidays are a busy time of year, getting together with friends and family, rushing around shopping, putting up decorations and entertaining, all while trying to stay on top of your normal day to day activities.
For many individuals the holidays are filled with more stress than joy, and this stress is often demonstrated in physical aches and pains… one of the most common being headaches.
According to the National Headache Foundation, the prevalence of headaches is becoming more and more common with 1 of 6 people suffering from headaches every day. There are multiple different types of headaches from the common allergy headaches, tension-type headaches and hunger headaches to the severe migraine headaches, cluster headaches or even chronic daily headaches. Each headache is unique to each individual and that is why treatment for headaches is often very complicated and varies from person to person.
- Stress Management: Take a deep breath or several. Prioritize what needs to be done today, what can wait, or delegate things to others that can help you. Relax your body and your thoughts. Remember that you are doing the best you can and take a moment to be thankful for who you are, what you have, and how far you have come already.
- Diet Modifications: Food consumption high in chocolate, dairy, alcohol, fatty foods and caffeine tend to be common triggers for headaches. Mind what you are eating during this season and stay true to what nutrients your body needs versus what treats you crave.
- Exercise: Keep moving! The cold sometimes deters individuals from exercise, but anything from gentle stretching, yoga, and walking, to more vigorous activities like running, skiing, and snowshoeing are important to keep your blood flowing and your body healthy. Do something every day if possible.
- Medical Treatment: Often these guidelines are not enough to get rid of the pain and more treatment is necessary. Talk to your primary care physician about your headaches for further information on types and treatments. Medications and over the counter drugs are frequently prescribed for headache pain, these medications will vary depending on the type of headache and on the individual. Medications have side effects, can be costly, and often are prescribed for when a headache occurs not as prevention. Physical therapy is frequently prescribed by physicians as an alternative to medication. Physical therapy will help decrease tension in muscles and improve improper neck alignment that can cause chronic daily headaches. These changes in your posture, muscles and neck joints can alleviate pain from headaches at the first session and prevent headaches from occurring in the future.
Use this guide to help you decrease your stress and headaches so that you can fully ENJOY the holidays!