Headaches can range from mild and annoying to intense and debilitating — or anywhere in between. Anyone who has ever suffered from a headache knows that it interferes with daily life. You also know that it can be tough to get rid of one once it sets in. Regardless of the type or level of your pain, try one of these proven strategies the next time you feel a headache start creeping in.
Soak in a Warm Bath
A warm bath may help to relieve tension, which is a common contributor to headaches. To make the most of this approach, choose a time when you won’t have to worry about interruptions, add in some soothing music and dim the lights. You might even want to add a few drops of lavender from Young Living Essential Oils to make it a truly immersive experience. Just remember to keep the temperature warm but not too hot, which may raise your blood pressure and make your headache worse.
Use Cool Compresses
If the heat approach doesn’t work for you, cold might be a better option. Cool compresses or flexible ice packs may help headache sufferers find relief. Find a quiet place to sit or lay down. Then gently drape a wet washcloth or ice pack over your forehead and eyes. There are also special flexible compresses that can go in the freezer and microwave. These may be perfect if you find alternating between heat and cold effective, or if different headaches require unique approaches.
Indulge in a Massage
A relaxation massage might be just the thing to break through your pain. Be sure to share your concerns and any medical conditions with your massage therapist at your appointment so he can adjust the technique to fit your needs. While it may be helpful to seek out a therapist that specialized in pain relief, many people find that the muscle tension release massages provide is effective on their own.
Adjust Your Diet
Minor dietary adjustments can make a huge difference for some headache sufferers. Medical experts have found that certain foods are linked to headaches more than others. A few of the most common headache-inducing foods include:
- Processed meats like hotdogs and bacon
- Aged cheeses
- Caffeinated beverages
- Dried fruits and vegetables
It is also good to remember that, just because a food is known to cause headaches does not mean it contributes to yours. For example, caffeine causes problems for many people, but it also helps relieve certain types of headaches for others. That is why it’s a good idea to keep a food diary. It can help you track patterns that may reveal what your trigger foods or drinks are.
Give Biofeedback a Try
If your headaches are chronic, you may benefit from trying biofeedback. This non-invasive technique is increasingly being used to help patients manage pain. It allows you to see the body’s reactions so that you can learn to better control them. It generally involves using sensors that are placed on the body during a session; however, advances in wearables make it even more portable and accessible. Your smartwatch telling you to take a deep breath when it detects indicators of stress is a perfect example of this in everyday use.
Get Up and Stretch
While exercise may be the last thing you want to do when a headache strikes, it may actually be just what you need. A gentle exercise or stretching routine can help loosen muscle tightness and release tension. It also helps ramp up the production of soothing hormones that can reduce perceived pain. The next time you feel a headache starting, try a soothing yoga sequence or work through a few tai chi forms. These have the added benefit of promoting a strong mind-body connection.
Listen to Soothing Music
There appear to be good reasons behind the expression “music soothes the savage beast,” and many of those can be found in sound therapy. This growing field uses specific sounds to invoke a physical response. It has been linked to lower levels of pain, improved calmness and increased energy levels. Sound therapy may use soothing music, individual sounds like bells and chimes or a specific frequency of sound to achieve the desired results.
Headaches can be difficult to get rid of, but it is possible to do. Practices such as adjusting your diet, soaking in a warm bath or scheduling a massage may help you get rid of headache pain.