Relieving Headaches This Holiday Season

For many of us, the holiday season is accompanied by food, family, and oftentimes a headache or two. Headaches are, in fact, one of the most common ailments many patients face during the festive season – albeit literally or figuratively!

When it comes to pain, though, the good news is that headaches don’t have to be a guaranteed side effect of your time off. Luckily, there are ways to relieve your headache and even prevent it happening in the first place. This post offers you some highly effective tips for overcoming your headaches and staving off any future pain. Take a look:

      1.      Warm Showers and Baths

When headaches strike, either from overworked and stressed muscles, or loud noises in your otherwise calm home, having a warm bath or shower does wonders for relieving the pain. Make sure to allocate a fairly quiet part of your day to yourself, run a bath, and relax in the warm water with your favorite book in hand. Ensure that the warm water reaches all the way to the base of your neck, so as to target stiff, inflamed muscles that may be contributing to your headache.

      2.      Light Massaging

Lightly massaging your neck muscles and your temples is a great way to relieve excess tension in the area. Inflamed, stiff muscles tend to get tight and cause headaches, therefore using your fingertips to gently release any pressure is a sure-fire way of relieving the pain. Be sure not to press too hard, as too much pressure may actually aggravate the pain.

      3.      Avoid Loud Sounds and Bright Lights

During the holidays it’s almost impossible to escape uninvited sounds and/or lights in our homes. But, when you have a headache, the best thing to do is to remove yourself from environments that are too bright or noisy. Why not make a room in your house dedicated solely to your relaxation? No gifts, tinsel, or kids allowed! Create a space where you’re able to lie down in silence with your eyes closed – use an eye-mask if you like – therefore allowing your headache not to be aggravated. In this way, your healing time with decrease dramatically and you’ll definitely be able to face the rest of the day with new vigor.

      4.      Watch Those Drinks!

The holiday season also seems to usher in a time of parties, family get-togethers, and morning coffees. And while we all love our java in the morning, be careful not to overdo your caffeine intake. Reach for some nuts or berries to boost your energy if you feel low. Caffeine dramatically increases your chances of experiencing headaches. Truth be told, so does alcohol, I’m afraid. As you might know, drinking too much alcohol can cause you to feel unpleasant the day after. More than that, though, alcohol actually dehydrates you, thus leaving you exposed to a high risk of headaches. If you are drinking alcohol, then, make sure to follow each drink with a healthy amount of H2O!

      5.      Stop Smoking

If you’re a smoker, I realize this is a difficult tip. The truth is, though, smoking decreases your appetite, thereby allowing your energy levels to slump – and low blood sugar often leads to headaches. Try stepping away from the nicotine, as doing so will give you a head start in beating anxiety and stress which also cause headaches.

      6.      Eat Regularly

As the previous tip mentioned, low blood sugar actually increases the frequency and intensity of headaches. Make sure you take care to eat regularly throughout the day, and try not to fill up on foods high in sugar, salt, or fat. Stick to healthier options like nuts, fruits, or vegetables. Whole foods offer a great combination of fiber and slow-release glucose which will help keep your energy levels up and your headaches away.

      7.      Drink Enough Water

Dehydration is a major contributor to the frequency of headaches. If you’re loading up on soda, coffee, or tea, but you’re not drinking enough water during the day, you’re likely to have a headache at some point. Not only does water flush out toxins from your body, but it also keeps your neck muscles slack and supple, allowing them to stretch with ease – thereby avoiding cramps, seizing, or stiffness… and therefore, headaches. Drink at least 8-10 cups of water a day – the results will surprise you!

The truth is, many headaches can be relieved naturally, and if you’re currently taking painkillers or other medication to overcome your headaches, it’s time to try a different route. Not only are painkillers detrimental to your overall health, they only mask the pain – temporarily, at that. Did you know that one of the best ways to tackle headaches is physical therapy? In fact, a professional, qualified physical therapist is able to find the root cause of the problem and help heal and prevent recurring headaches!

If you’ve never spoken to a PT about your headaches, there is no time like the present! We invite you to contact us, right now, for information on how we can help you ditch the headaches, painkillers, and causes of discomfort. One of our dedicated, friendly PT’s will gladly assist you with any information you may need. 

And there you have it: 7 essential tips for gaining relief from headaches, right now. We know that headaches can be an almost daily occurrence during the festive season, but by trying our helpful tips you’ll be sure to overcome the pain in no time. Some extra things to consider: try avoiding sugar, exercise regularly, and find time to relax during the day. We wish you the very best for this holiday period, and we genuinely encourage you to tackle those headaches, head on! Happy holidays!

Dr. Jamie So

Jamie So, PT, DPT, is the owner and physical therapist of Manual Therapy Effects.


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