By Dr. Trish Leigh, Ph.D., BCN, Certified Brain Health Coach
Schools are back in session but now they are at home. This alone can call for tips to reduce headaches. Alas, there is more to it. Parents are required to help their children learn, all day, every day. I should know. With five school-aged kids, I have my hands full. With social distancing in place, people are more isolated than ever. Many cities have urged people to stay home to prevent further spread of COVID-19. This global pandemic has greatly disrupted everyone’s lives, creating a lot of stress and anxiety. Continue reading to learn more about tips to reduce headaches due to COVID-19 stress.
Stress Affects Migraine Headaches
With an increase in stress and anxiety can come more headaches for more people. This can be especially upsetting for patients with chronic neurologic conditions. Migraines, in particular, are especially susceptible to the effects of stress on the brain and the body, according to Joseph Sirven, MD, a Mayo Clinic neurologist.
Watch the video I made for a quick explanation and keep reading below to learn more about the topic.
“At the end of the day, the same organ that is impacted with migraine headaches is the same organ that you feel and think with. And we know that stress increases the environment for headaches to occur,” Sirven commented in a Mayo Clinic article. “So, all of the stress, all of this obsessing, all of this worry about what’s going on in the world can have this negative effect that it increases the chance for migraines.”
5 Best Tips to Reduce Headaches
Dr. Sirven offered his top 5 tips to de-stress at home to reduce the chance of a migraine headache onset. Honestly, they are completely in line with the recommendations that I have been touting for months to help all people make it out of quarantine without suffering the consequences of stress and anxiety. Here they are.
- Limit exposure to news media.
- Care for yourself by eating a healthy diet, staying hydrated, and getting enough sleep.
- Get some exercise, especially outside.
- Focus on the positive.
- Meditate, stretch, or practice deep breathing.
How to Implement These Tips to Reduce Headaches Successfully
Although it is easy to recommend the above strategies to reduce headaches, it might not be so easy to pull off. I find it easier to use a technique that I call “habit replacement” to be successful. Instead of doing the activity that is not good for you, put in its place one that is beneficial to you. Like this. Instead of drinking alcohol, discover a fruity “mocktail” to wet your whistle while you relax on your porch. This way your brain gets the relaxation time, and not the booze. Here is a list for the above recommendations:
- Instead of watching or listening to the news, listen to music, or watch a show that lifts your spirits. If you really bored, you can watch my YouTube channel for brain tips to conquer anxiety.
- Discover healthy recipes that are fun to make. Put water in your favorite glass so you drink more. Set sleep timer so you can get in bed a read your favorite book or watch a few minutes of your favorite show.
- Go for an evening walk each night after dinner. If you couple activity with another habit it is more likely to happen.
- Write down three “gifts” as I call them from each day. I do this every day. Some times they are funny, like when my daughter put soy sauce on her French toast thinking it was syrup and other times sentimental, like when my son wrote post-it notes all over the kitchen that said he loves me. Remembering them at the end of the day puts your brain into a relaxed mode before bed for a better night’s sleep.
- To successfully meditate, get yourself a Muse Calm headband that tells you when you are in the zone of calm focus. I love mine and use it all the time. You can get one HERE to be sure that you are successful at building a meditation practice and that you are not just sitting still spinning our wheels.
Headaches and stress are inter-related in the brain. Both are caused and made worse by excessive use of High Beta extra fast brain speed. High Beta causes anxiety, hypervigilance, worry, rumination, and can bring a headache on. The above tips will help you lower High Beta use in your brain so you won’t harm yourself with agitation. Now that you have five strong strategies to reduce the stress that can cause headaches, you can feel and perform better during COVID-19. If you are not able to use these tips, it might be time to contact us at Leigh Brain & Spine. We will work hard to help you improve your brain performance and ward off headaches and stress.