Headaches are one of the most common health complaints, says Sam Wylie-Harris.
In the vast majority of cases, headaches are not a sign of anything serious but it’s important to see your GP if you experience severe or continuing headaches, especially if you’ve got other symptoms.
While head pain can be draining and distressing, there are lots of actions you can take to gain respite that don’t involve popping a pill (in fact, long-term painkiller use can sometimes cause chronic headaches).
Next time you’re struck with an annoying throb on the crown, try these simple lifestyle remedies.
Take some deep breaths, and try to inhale deeply from your stomach, expanding and contracting the abdomen, which clears the way for a full breathing cycle; sometimes ensuring there’s a good flow of oxygen to the brain can help relieve pain.
Taking deep breaths also helps to instantly calm you if you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, conditions often associated with headaches.
Headaches can be caused by dehydration, so the best thing to do is take in plenty of fluids. Research suggests 16 to 32 ounces is the average amount of water needed to feel hydrated. Take small, regular sips. you should feel better in a couple of hours.
Massaging the neck area and pressure points can help relieve pain. Even a little light kneading on the temples can bring relief.
Applying pressure to the ridge of the neck and walking your fingers from the shoulders up to the neck and down again can release tension from the body.
Taking time out, closing your eyes and lying down in a dark, quiet room for at least 20 minutes can help. Many headaches (especially migraines) can be triggered by sensory stimuli, such as bright lights.
Taking a hot shower can bring welcome relief. The sensation of hot water flowing over the head is not only comforting, but can take your mind off the pain. Spritzing yourself with lavender water afterwards can also trigger a feeling of wellbeing.
A soothing cup of chamomile can help reduce inflammation and relieve anxiety.
Chamomile contains compounds that can ease pain and relax you. Also available in liquid extract and a skin ointment, try dabbing it on the temples.
A fast walk in the fresh air can help clear the mind. Circulating the system and filling your lungs with air will provide your body with much-needed oxygen.
If it’s a really bad headache, wear a pair of sunglasses to block out the sunlight.
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