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How Simple Lifestyle Changes Can Prevent Your Headaches

Lifestyle changes in relation to headaches can really impact your recovery from pain. We all have stress you say..but the big question is how do you handle it? Do you fuss and fume? Or do you tend to push it down and not have a healthy outlet for your stress.

Many times I will ask a headache patient: What do you do for fun, to relieve stress?

I get a blank stare in return.

Recognize that stress plays a big role in your health, because until you do, your headaches won't change much. Making lifestyle changes can go a long way in headache prevention.

By this I mean are you going to live the same headache lifestyle or make some changes?

Self Evaluation Questions

  • Do I work more hours than necessary?
  • Is my home life stable and if not, why?
  • Do I realllyyy exercise three times a week for 1/2 hour? (and sweat?)
  • Is my diet full of processed foods, chemicals and little water?
  • Am I always looking for a quick cure for my problems in life?
  • Am I open to new ideas and thoughts about treatment?
  • Do I have what they call "an addictive personality"? (smoking, drinking, over use or abuse of drugs?)


migraine headache cures


Headache Prevention Recommendations:

  • Sleep:
Many studies have proven that the brain responds best to regular biorythyms. What's that? The natural sleep cycle we should all have of 7-8 hours of sleep per night.

To prevent headaches, go to bed and get up the same time every day. Even the weekends! No over sleeping, keep work out of the bedroom and TV's too. Give this at least six months to re-establish the brains' natural cycle.

If you tend to wake up several times during the night, you are just like so many other headache sufferers. I recommend a low dose (5-10mg) of Elavil an hour before bed. To help with sleep, I recommend (and have one myself) the Mediflow water pillow for neck support. and also recommend melatonin to many of my patients. This is a natural supplement to help you sleep. You can get a free 21 day supply of Melatrol (melatonin) here.

Read about the effects of sleep apnea on headaches.

  • Reduce Your Stress:
I know, easier said than done. But you really have to do this one to avoid headaches. Headaches are our bodies way of trying to remove us from chronic stress. In other words, if you don't slow down, your brain will do something to make you slow down. Like give you a headache that puts you in bed!

Get away from the stressor. Of all the lifestyle changes, this one is the biggest as it is the most common cause of headache.Take a class on coping skills. If you are having trouble with coping, find a counselor, minister or someone to talk to about your problems. This goes a long way in reducing stress. If you put yourself first, you may begin to slow down a bit, handle stress better and MAYBE...less headaches! I know this may sound trivial but it really it true. Those who handle stress better, learn to slow down and enjoy life, overall they have less headaches.

Deal with stress in a healthy way. Adopt stress relief and relaxation techniques that promote mental, emotional and physical well being.

  • Effects of Depression on Headaches
The effects of depression cannot be underestimated. The nerve tracts in the brain that register pain are close at one point to the mood fibers so they impact each other. Read more about the effects of depression at Chronic-pain-alternatives.com.

  • Exercise
One of the best ways to prevent headaches is to exercise at least three times per week. Now this means sweat! Not just a stroll around the block and call that exercise. Lifestyle changes of regular aerobic exercise will raise serotonin levels in the brain, thereby reducing headaches.

There has been some news in research lately about obesity in connection with migraine. Although being overweight is not associated with more migraines, gaining weight is associated with an increase in headaches.

Read about the connection between obesity and headache.

  • Don't Skip Meals
especially breakfast! Headache patients tend to have "irritated" brains and one thing that definately pushes the brain over the edge is low blood sugar. Skipping breakfast puts you at risk for a headache later on that day. Drink plenty of water, not caffeine which dehydrates you. One of the first things I do for a severe headache is hydrate the patient. Sometimes this alone will stop a migraine.

  • Stop Smoking
I know, I know, you have heard this before if you are a smoker. But I bet you didn't know that nicotine binds to nerve cells and thereby makes headaches worse.

If you cut your smoking at least in half, as a lifestyle change, you can reduce your headaches.

caffeine headache
  • Caffeine
Another item that irritates nerve cells! And keeps you awake and oh there we go..we are back to the sleep cycle thing.

See how you can make a difference? Less caffeine, less headaches. If you have severe headaches, then you should not have more than one caffeinated drink per day.

And Red Bulls DO count. They are off the list..period.

Figure out your caffeine intake.

know which ones trigger your headaches. The more common ones are wines, prepared cheeses and MSG. You may be sensitive to many foods which can also cause other problems. This is a great book by a dietician and discusses migraine food triggers in relation to other disorders like IBS. You can also read my review of this book here.

Last but not least, don't forget that dehydration or lack of fluids can cause a headache. Most of the time this will then precipitate a migraine, so drink plenty of water daily, especially in the summer months. Additional migraine triggers.

In other words, be proactive! Participate in your own care as supplements and drugs alone just might not do the job.

I can only tell you that the patients who pay attention to this advice do much better than those who do not. Lifestyle changes for your migraines really can be effective.



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Resources on stress management

Learn about relaxation techniques from Relaxing Tranquility Moments.

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