Self-care for headache sufferers
I distinctly remember my doctor telling me I was just a ‘headache-y’ person when I was younger. I was at the GP again, in floods of tears because I just couldn’t take the headaches anymore. When I hit my teens I had a couple of migraines, but thankfully they didn’t take root and I haven’t had any recurrences.
I was recommended over-the-counter painkillers and, finally, prescription medication. This helped a small amount but I hated being reliant on it and, after years of being on the medication, I was advised to come off it. So I started to seek my own ways of overcoming the pain.
Now, in my thirties, I can safely say that I no longer have daily headaches. Yes, they do still pop up from time to time, but when they do, I consider them warning signs that I’m not looking after myself and need to start upping my self-care practice. Here are a few things I’ve done/do to help:
Note your triggers
If your doctors can’t find a medical cause for your headaches, it can be helpful for you to start a headache diary. Note any time you get a headache and include what you’ve eaten and drunk, how you’re feeling mentally and how much sleep you get.
I’ve done this in the past and know I’m triggered by a lack of sleep, too much sleep, not enough water and the big one – stress.
Tension headaches are caused by physical tension, and this can often be held in your shoulders, neck and back. Practising yoga helps me ease this tension and really helps both body and mind to wind down. Perfect for easing stress.
I try to meditate regularly to keep my stress under control. It encourages you to focus on your breathing and enjoy some delicious me-time. I try to meditate on lunch breaks at work or after I practice yoga.
I have a lovely aromatherapy oil diffuser in my bedroom and often use lavender oil if I’m battling a headache. It helps to create a relaxing atmosphere, which is perfect if I’m struggling to sleep. Peppermint, rosemary and eucalyptus are also recommended to help headaches.
This is a rare treat for me, but one I want to invest in more regularly. As mentioned, tension headaches come from tension elsewhere in the body. Regular massages ease this physical tension and once again, allows you some much-needed quiet time.
Other therapies I’ve not yet explored are acupuncture and herbal remedies. I feel as though I’ve now got my headaches under control, with my arsenal of self-care tools (and the occasional dose of painkillers for the particularly nasty ones). I don’t think I’ll ever be headache free, but I’m thankful that now they don’t bother me for long.
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