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A woman sits in her living room rubbing her temples because she has a headache.

5 Ways to Get Rid of Your Headaches

“Ow, my head!”

Were you getting more headaches in 2020 than ever before? Has that carried over to 2021? You’ve come to the right place.

If you’re at this article, it’s because you experience headaches and want them to stop, or you are currently in one and are looking for a way out. Don’t worry. Your remedy for headaches is on its way!

Headaches are extremely common, especially in adults, yet so undervalued as a source of pain in the world of medicine. 1 in 20 adults has a headache every day or nearly every day. So this seemingly trivial issue has a big impact on our society.

Many people spend their whole lives with the task of trying to continue in society while being plagued by horrible headaches and migraines. Unless you’ve had a bad one, you can’t understand how debilitating they can be.

With headache disorders becoming more common in “pandemic times,” the struggle of chronic migraines and tension headaches are becoming more talked about. So let’s take a moment to look at what causes headaches, how to prevent them, and how to stop them in their tracks.

What Causes Headaches?

We all know what a headache feels like, but what causes it?

Headaches are often caused by the following:

  • Stress
  • Sinuses
  • Dehydration
  • Hormones (this is common with people on birth control)
  • Bad posture
  • Eyesight issues
  • Overconsumption (alcohol, wine, cured meats, fermented foods, MDG)
  • Underconsumption (not eating enough, not getting enough water)
  • Illnesses like the flu or a cold

So as you can see, headaches are not as simple as some may think. They are caused by so many different factors and can combine to create head-rattling pain cocktails.

Why People Are Experiencing More Headaches Than Usual

The pandemic has recently caused an uptick in headaches, even in people who have rarely had them in the past.

Even if you haven’t been diagnosed with COVID-19, the stress and isolation of this period of time has caused frequent headaches and sometimes newly onset migraines.

This is due to many of the common factors we discussed above: lack of sleep, too much caffeine, fluorescent lighting/too much screen time, and stress on top of anxiety. It’s a harmful combination that can leave us lying in bed clutching our heads!

Types of Headaches: The Difference Between a Headache and a Migraine

The Common Headache

A common headache is a pain primarily in the head or upper neck parts of your body. It originates in the structures around the brain and the skull.

A misconception about headaches is that they come from the brain, but the brain actually has no nerve endings, so it cannot feel pain.

Many headaches fall under this category, but tension headaches are the most common due to their causes. Tension headaches are most often caused by stress caused by life. This could be relationships, work, or general stress associated with the world around us.

There are also cluster headaches among many more.

Migraine Headaches

Migraines are a type of headache that gets its own category due to its symptoms and often its chronic nature.

Migraine headaches can be debilitating as they cause sensitivity to light, sounds, odors and can even make a person psychically ill (vomiting) or feel numbness in their body. Some even report that it can make them struggle with speech and temporarily lose their vision.

Headaches have similar triggers, but migraines manifest differently as they are a throbbing or pulsing pain that radiates across someone’s head. Also, unlike the common headache, migraines run in families and are more likely to occur in women.

How to Stop Headaches Before & After They Start

There are two approaches to headaches that are crucial for remedying them: prevention and healing. We will profile our five steps in each category.

How to Prevent Headaches

1. Preventative Stretches & Exercises

To stop your body from reacting poorly to leaning over your desk all day or slouching on the couch while watching TV, you’re going to want to add stretches and strengthening exercises into your daily routine.

This doesn’t mean that you have to add weight lifting into your day. These can be simple poses that allow you to strengthen your body to prevent pain associated headaches.

Here are some of our favorites: Stretches to Combat the Negative Effects of Sitting, Yoga Poses for Neck & Shoulder Pain, & Exercises for Better Posture.

2. Drink Enough Water

It’s no secret that dehydration causes headaches. And with so many varying sources saying how much we should drink, it can be confusing.

Healthline states that women need 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) a day, and men need 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) a day. Depending on how much you exercise, you will need to drink different amounts, so starting on this baseline will help you determine how much you need to feel better and function.

Start carrying a water bottle with you, even around the house, to help you track how much you have drunk. There are even water apps that you can download to remind you to take a sip or grab a glass throughout the day.

3. Reduce Screen Time

Digital eye strain causes headaches because of the constant light and drying effect it has on our eyes. We recommend adding time away from your phone or screen to give your body a break.

Additionally, you can get blue light protection glasses to reduce eye strain while at your desk or scrolling through your social feeds.

Get more insights by reading: Constant Headaches? Blue Light Might Be to Blame

4. Ensure You Are Eating & Sleeping Enough

When your body has the food and rest it needs, it will run better. So missing meals or only getting four hours of sleep is a slippery slope to causing a headache.

If you are getting headaches in the back of your head often, look to getting a better pillow. This will help reduce pain in your neck, back, and shoulders, leading to that specific headache type.

Not only should you be making sure that you are getting enough sleep and food, but you may also want to avoid processed foods. If you know you have a trigger food like dairy or aspartame, avoiding this is an obvious tip. This is because your gut health is also a contributing factor to headaches and body aches.

5. Reduce Stress

This is easier said than done. But when you can, we suggest meditating or taking moments to breathe and reset your body throughout the day.

Get started with: Breathwork for Releasing Negativity (& Stress) From Your Life

How to Get Rid of a Headache

1. Try Peppermint Oil

Adding some peppermint oil to your neck and temples during a headache can help melt the pain away (be careful not to touch your eyes). Once you start to feel your headache come on, grab your peppermint and put it in these places or put it in a diffuser to start the process of dulling the headache.

Note: If you have a pet or young children, you may want to be careful about putting this in a space where they breathe in the air.

This oil can also be used to help IBS, GI conditions, and nausea. So having a bottle around will come in handy!

2. Take Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen

This is the oldest trick in the book and is something all of our parents have probably taught us. Reach for the meds.

If you can, getting pain-relief medication like Excedrin will really help with specific issues like a tension headache or migraine.

Make sure you do not overdo it, though. Start slow and take another (within the suggested does) if you still need it. Overdoing it with medication can actually make your headache worse.

3. Drink a Few Glasses of Water

It’s preventative and remedying: Drink more water, but slowly. If you start chugging water, it won’t be as effective. So grab a glass or two and slowly sip through it.

This will help prevent dehydration from prolonging or worsening your headache.

4. Grab an Ice Pack

Often headaches are associated with radiating pain or the feeling of your head warming. Listen to what your body is saying and apply an icepack to the area where the pain originates.

If this is a headache caused by stress or body-aches, you may also want to apply an icepack to your neck and shoulders.

If this is a headache caused by eye strain or sinus issues, you may want to invest in an eye ice pack mask that will allow you to lay down and reduce the pain or swelling that comes from this type of headache.

5. Avoid Screens

Screens and the way we sit when we are near them is a modern problem. If you feel a headache behind your eyes, this is most likely due to this strain.

If you can turn on your yellow filter on your computer or phone to reduce blue light eye strain, and if you can’t, try a 20-20 strategy where for every 20 minutes you look at your screen, you take 20 minutes away to rest your eyes.

Some Extra Tips for Migraines

If you are a person who suffers from chronic migraines, here are some specific tips to help you once you feel an aura coming on.

1. Establish a Caffeine & Nap Routine

Even though it feels counterintuitive, drink a bit of caffeine, and have a nap. I know many people who have tested this, and it helps relieve brain fog.

You might be interested in: Combat Brain Fog With These 12 Tips

2. Get Blackout Curtains

If you do not already have them, these will help when you need to escape from the light to

3. Have a Migraine Buddy

When migraine auras hit, it’s time to act.

If you have a person you live with or work with that knows about your pain, they can help you act and check on you to ensure that you are doing okay while you process through the pain.

Even if their job is to tell people you “need some time,” you’ll be grateful that they are there to help.

Rest & Renew

Try these tips out and make them your own. All of our bodies are different, and if you find that an icepack only makes yours worse, cut it out and listen to what your body is telling you.

Don’t be afraid to talk about your headaches. This pain is just as valid as any other chronic pain, and pushing yourself through it for a deadline or social obligation is not worth it.

The world is an incredibly stressful place during pandemic times, so if you can, take a nap and give yourself space to ride out your headache.

When you give yourself the time to heal and manage stress, you will begin to see the mind-body connection that so often leaves us grabbing for pain medication.

Related article: What Does Chronic Pain Do to the Brain?

Reanna Pilkington

Reanna Pilkington

Reanna Pilkington is a communications professional, a double Sagittarius, content writer, and one of Daily Life's in-house Content Coordinators and Editors. She is a Professional Communications graduate who has spent two years bringing brands to the next level on social media and has been cited by some as a digital... Read More

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