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I used to be that person who reached out for paracetamol or ibuprofen at a start of a throbbing headache, but the more I engaged in understanding my body, the more I realized that there are other alternatives. These 6 hacks are available to us always, and save you that trip to the pharmacy, swallowing synthetic pills. Although pills will work fast, they mask pain and provide temporary relief, they do not deal with the root cause.

Harvard University researchers found that regularly taking pain killers can actually bring on a headache such as ceasing the medication abruptly which contains caffeine or opiates messes with your hormonal balance.

What I learned is that headache is brought by the muscles tightening and pressure being applied to our nervous system or blood vessels swelling. Our nervous system sends a message to the brain, our brain then processes that information and hey presto we starts asking a friend or a work colleague for that dreaded pill, as the we start feeling tired, short fused, our concentration is lacking, and the throbbing starts.

1. Exercise CC 0

Once you understand why you want to work out, it’s easier to convince yourself to do this. When we start losing focus, become tired, sluggish, sleepy, our body is crying for help, giving us the signs to get us back into action. Our cells need energy and one form of getting our body what it needs is to get active. Through exercising and regular training, we are raising our cellular energy levels that help our bodies to function well.
Researchers have found that exercise can speed up our recovery from a headache or prevent it. What is behind the science? Well the researchers think that through exercise we are stimulating the body to release specific hormones, key ones are endorphins which reduce pain and enkephalins that act as a natural anti-depressant, serotonin which is our mood stabilizer.

Build up gently your stamina, start with a walk, cycle or swimming, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) may not be the best option at that point, but moderate exercise and engaging in nature doing breathing exercises and gentle stretches or yoga are perfect. Stretch out those upper muscles of your neck, shoulders, arms, wake up the energy within your legs, after few hours at the desk, it will do you good and lifts your mood.
If you suffer from migraine an aerobic style exercise seems to be proving to be successful to combat that awful pain. Combine this with deep breathing and you are changing your physiology, as “The Ice Man” Wim Hof would say “We are the Alchemists of our own bodies.”

Drop of Water by Emilia Topij-Nydza , Flickr CC 0

2. Hydrate
Start your day with glass of water, before breakfast to speed up the absorption in the body, as when your stomach is empty, you absorb it much quicker. Sip your water, small sips and often are best. If you like a flavoured water, make your own – add lemon or orange, mint, strawberries or cucumber. The recommended amounts that you often hear about is to have eight glasses a day of fluid to support your body functioning and hydrating your skin. Up that if you exercise a lot, as you lose water quicker.
How would I know I am getting dehydrated you may ask? The most common signs to watch for are thirst and dry mouth, followed by constipation and of course headache. Healthy human body is made up 2/3 of water, so not a surprise that water plays a crucial role in how we feel, distributing nutrients and waste products between major organs, regulating our body temperature, flushing out toxins. Our cells and skin depend on the water for hydration. If you can, stay away from a caffeine drinks, as these have the opposite effect i.e. dehydration.

3. Massage

Jürgen Rübig from Pixabay  CC0

Treat yourself to a massage, especially the head, neck and shoulder is great to say bye-bye to the tension headache. As you lie in the therapist chair and smell the scents of aromatherapy oils, you can allow yourself to unwind, as you in expert hands to get you feel bliss again. As the masseuses moving through the pressure points within your body, easing sinus problems, and tension, increasing an oxygen flow to your muscles and circulation, you feel as the heavy cloud within your head is shifting and the energy starts flowing again. It’s a brilliant treat, I regularly use an acupressure/acupuncture treatment to deal with head, shoulder neck tension, which causes headaches.

4. Relax in a bath or have a revitalizing shower to wash off that build-up of stress. CC 0.

Trust me, make your own mineral spa bath, infusing the water with your favorite essential oils, bath bomb or Epsom salts light the candle and melt your worries away.  Cut a 2 freshly refrigerated cucumber slices and place it over your tired eyes. The anti -inflammatory properties and mineral nutrient of silica within the cucumber with revitalize your delicate skin and refresh your eyes. Not to mention the antioxidants and flavonoids which cucumbers hold. Run out of cucumber! I used also freshly made banana mask or sliced melon, cooled potatoes will do the trick to revive your dark circles and  you feel and look glam again. 

5. Eat nutritious meals. CC. 0

Eating good foods increases your dopamine levels, the reward chemical. By cutting the processed foods and reaching out for the simplest forms of organic fruits and vegetables, you are reducing the chances of inflammation in the body. Avoid sugar as much as you can, since it hurts your metabolism and can cause chronic diseases  like diabetes, heart problems, beyond feeling sleepy, as these foods are spiking your blood glucose levels. The brain receiving too much sugar or not enough, can trigger a headache, so they say “eat in moderation.” There are plenty of natural sugars in juicy fruits and veg. Small portion of berries and cream with bio live yogurt and good quality honey or maple syrup will curb that “sweet tooth.” 

The art is – take time to eat your favorite dessert. Zane Andrews an associate professor of physiology and a neuroscientist at Monash University who studies how food (and lack of food) affects the brain tells us that it takes 20 minutes for our body for craving to pass and feel full . So, enjoy your lunch bite with friends a bit longer, taking a good example from the French nation. Research suggests that when we chew and don’t rush foods, we take more nutrients and if we rush our foods we get more calories, feel hungry much sooner. Some researchers suggest we are even smarter, as they studied children who eat longer and did not rush their foods and discovered correlation with healthier brain development.

Besides who does not like a great meal and a conversation with a friend. As you laughing and reaching out for your next bite, your hormones are raging into action, keeping your spirits up and headache at bay. 

6. Sleep

Studies tell us that people who don’t get enough sleep (minimum 7 hrs per week) tend to get sicker and that “two consecutive days of decreased sleep is associated with increased risk for headache.” ). So, establish sleeping routine, have your beauty sleep and hug that pillow a bit longer.

If you are getting headaches or migraine a lot, it may be a good idea to talk to your doctor to ensure that there are no other underlining causes. Keeping a dairy would help you to identify and build a picture of why you may have a looming headache and if its caused by the environment, then the good news is, these 6 steps will help you to banish it from your life.

Take care of your body, so your body can take care of you. Have a play, hold hands, and controversial I know during the “new normal Covid19” hug with a loved one rising your oxytocin levels. Pay a compliment to your work colleague, not only it makes your feel good, it also helps you build better relationships. Our interactions between the brain, body and behaviours may reduce symptoms of migraine, as the hormones released in the process are ready to work.