For tension headache sufferers, the holidays might mean more pain and less jolly. People living with stress-induced tension headaches know that the holiday season can be very difficult. The stress of the holidays can be enough to push your chronic tension headaches into overdrive. According to the American Psychological Association, most people report increasing levels of stress, fatigue, and irritability. For people who are already living with the pain of ongoing tension headaches, this can be a recipe for disaster.
With a little bit of consideration, you can take these simple steps to make sure that tension headaches don’t keep you from enjoying your holiday. These are five important ways you can keep your tension headaches in check this holiday season.
#1: Get plenty of rest
With lots of extra things on your to-do list, the holidays can leave you feeling extra tired. What most headache sufferers know is that a lack of sleep will lead to more headaches. When we don’t get enough sleep we wake feeling groggy and fatigued. This can lead to higher rates of stress and ultimately, a tension headache.
In order to avoid falling into this trap, take steps to protect your sleep during this busy time of year. Make sure not to overschedule yourself and miss out on your much-needed rest.
#2: Manage your stress
Stress is a well-known contributor to tension-type headaches. While the exact mechanisms that cause these headaches to occur are still an unknown, studies have shown that stress is a direct cause of chronic tension headaches for many people. This is why stress management is imperative, especially around the holidays.
As holiday stress causes you tension, take steps to mitigate the impact it has on your body. Throughout the day, take a few moments to pay attention to your breathing. This will give you more control over your mind and body. There are many ways to manage stress during this busy time of year, so find what works for you. Exercise, practice simple meditation or yoga techniques to quiet the brain and body. No matter how you like to manage your stress, taking these precautions can help keep your holiday bright.
#3: Avoid your headache triggers
By now you have probably identified some things that trigger the tension in your body and inevitably cause a headache. Holidays are full of potential triggers, with everything from stressful family situations to eating the wrong things. By paying attention to what might lead to a headache, you can start to minimize the frequency and intensity of your headaches. If possible, try to steer clear of headache triggers so you can truly enjoy the holiday.
#4: Take time for yourself
Most people spend more time in the company of family, friends, and coworkers during this special time of year. All of this socializing can be wonderful, but it can also be draining. This is where some “you time” can come in handy.
Take some time throughout this festive season for yourself. Pay attention to the way you feel and anything that is bothering you. Checking in with yourself throughout the day can help keep tension headaches at bay.
#5: Splurge only in moderation
It’s normal to overindulge in food and drink at the holidays. Just be sure to do so in moderation. A little extra frivolity this time of year is expected. But when you eat or drink too much or the wrong things you may pay for it later. Watch that you are not changing your normal eating and drinking patterns too drastically. Also be cautious about drinking too much alcohol, as this may contribute to a headache.
The holidays should be a time of merriment and celebration, not a time of pain and frustration. By taking these simple steps you can help keep a handle on the reality of tension headaches. Managing your stress levels, getting enough sleep, avoiding the things that cause you stress and paying attention to your holiday habits you can avoid unwanted holiday headaches. By doing so you can help head off tension headaches this holiday season.