Page 63 - magazine-jan-feb14

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Frequent
headaches
can interfere
with your
daily life.
But healthy
lifestyle
choices can
help you head
off the pain.
Start with
the basics,
including diet,
exercise and
relaxation.
Nearly
everyone
experiences
occasional
tension-type
headaches.
But frequent
tension-type
headaches
can interfere
with your
daily life.
Aside from
over-the-
counter or
prescription
medication,
do you
wonder what
else you can
do to stop
the pain? The
answer may
be as simple
as taking
good care of
yourself.
Make healthy
lifestyle choices
The same lifestyle choices that
promote good health may
reduce the frequency and
severity of your tension-type
headaches. Consider the basics:
Eat healthy foods.
Don’t
skip meals, especially breakfast,
and stay hydrated with plenty of
water daily.
Exercise regularly.
During physical activity, your
body releases certain chemicals
that block pain signals
to your brain. If
your doctor agrees,
choose any exercise
you enjoy.
Walking,
swimming
and cycling
are often good
choices. But it’s
important to start
slowly. Exercising
too vigorously can
trigger some types of headaches.
Get enough sleep.
Wake
up and go to bed at the same
time every day - even on
weekends. Relax before you go
to bed. If you don’t fall asleep
within 15 minutes, get up and
read or do another quiet activity
until you become drowsy.
Keep in mind that medications
that contain caffeine or other
stimulants, including some
headache medications, may
interfere with sleep.
Avoid excess caffeine.
Sometimes caffeine helps
curb headaches. In fact, many
headache medications contain
caffeine. But heavy daily
caffeine use - more than 200
milligrams of caffeine a day
(about two regular cups of
coffee) - can cause headaches
and irritability.
Quit smoking.
Cigarette
smoke contains carbon
monoxide, a known headache
trigger, and nicotine has been
shown to interfere with the
liver’s ability to break down
headache medication. Aside
from these drawbacks, smoking
cessation has many other well-
documented health benefits
that contribute to your overall
health.
Keep stress
under control
Stress and tension-type
headaches often go hand in
hand. To reduce stress, try these
simple tips:
Simplify your life.
Rather
than looking for ways to
squeeze more activities or
chores into the day, find a way
to leave some things out.
Manage your time wisely.
Update your to-do list every
day - both at work and at
home. Delegate what you can,
and divide large projects into
manageable chunks.
Take a break.
If you feel
overwhelmed, a few slow
stretches or a quick walk may
renew your energy for the task
at hand.
Adjust your attitude.
Stay
positive. If you find yourself
thinking, “This
can’t be done,”
switch gears.
Think instead,
“This will be
tough. But I can
make it work.”
Let go.
Don’t
worry about
things you can’t
control.
Ease
muscle
tension
Muscle
tension
can trigger
tension-type
headaches.
If you’re feeling
tense, apply heat
or ice to soothe
H
sore neck and shoulder muscles.
Use a heating pad set on low,
a hot water bottle, a warm
compress or a hot towel. A hot
bath or shower may help, too. If
you’d rather use ice, wrap the ice
pack in a cloth to protect your
skin.
Massage also can relieve muscle
tension - and sometimes
headache pain. Gently massage
your temples, scalp, neck and
shoulders with your fingertips.
Or ask someone else to do the
honors.
Relax
Take time to unwind
every day.
Try this deep-
breathing exercise:
• Lie down on your back or sit
comfortably with your feet
flat on the floor and your
hands in your lap.
• Imagine yourself in a peaceful
place, perhaps a beach or
quiet forest. Keep this scene
in your mind.
• Focus on inhaling and
exhaling slowly and deeply
for 10 minutes or more.
• When you’re done, sit quietly
for a minute or two.
Try to practice these breathing
exercises or another form of
relaxation every day.
Keep a
headache diary
A diary may help you determine
what triggers your tension-type
headaches. Note when your
headaches start, what you were
doing at the time, how long
they last and what, if anything,
provides relief. With the help of
a headache diary, you may begin
to notice patterns in your daily
life that may contribute to your
tension-type headaches. You may
also note the benefits of healthy
lifestyle changes.
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