ME Magazine: Ease your Headache

As if your day weren’t full enough, here it comes — the unwelcome intrusion of a headache. It might be the vise grip of a tension headache, the pressure and ache of sinus pain, or the throbbing pain and nausea of a migraine. But you want it gone.

Before you simply pop a pill, “Take a step back and ask, ‘Why am I getting this headache?’ ” says Tara C. Sharma, M.D., board member of the American Association of Integrative Medicine.

Create friendly Head Space

Headaches can be a wake-up call from your body, inviting you to pay more attention to taking care of yourself. “Making yourself a priority isn’t selfish,” Dr. Sharma says. “It’s an investment in your well-being.”

Arrange the rhythms of your day to make room for regular meals and adequate rest since hunger and tiredness trigger headaches. And keep your mind and body on speaking terms through enjoyable exercise and relaxing rituals. Practice yoga, take an evening bath or, like Dr. Sharma, get a weekly massage.

Even a single massage may boost your body’s immune response, suggests a 2010 study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Fewer colds can mean fewer sinus infections and headaches.

Ease the Ache

When a headache does come calling, how do you chase it away? Since overuse of medication can trigger rebound headaches, consider these tips:

  1. Try a little do-it-yourself acupressure. Press your thumb into the web between your opposite thumb and index finger. Hold for 30 to 40 seconds to relieve headache pain. Repeat on the other side.
  2. Steam away sinus pain and pressure. Put a few drops of eucalyptus and tea tree oil in a bowl of boiling water and breathe in the steam to relieve congestion.
  3. Breathe. Slow, deep breaths short-circuit the fight-or-flight stress response and activate the calming effects of the parasympathetic nervous system, Dr. Sharma explains.

“The jungle out there is not going to change,” Dr. Sharma says. “It’s how you respond to stress that makes a difference.”

– By Teresa Caldwell Board

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