Send Pain Packing
Here's how to lay out the "Not Welcome" mat for headaches
As if your day weren't full enough, here it comes -- the
unwelcome intrusion of a headache. It might be the vise grip of a
tension headache, the pressure and ache of sinus pain, or the
throbbing pain and nausea of a migraine. But you want it gone.
Before you simply pop a pill, "Take a step back and ask, 'Why am
I getting this headache?' " says Tara C. Sharma, M.D., board member
of the American Association of Integrative Medicine.
Create friendly Head space
Headaches can be a wake-up call from your body, inviting you to
pay more attention to taking care of yourself. "Making yourself a
priority isn't selfish," Dr. Sharma says. "It's an investment in
Arrange the rhythms of your day to make room for regular meals
and adequate rest since hunger and tiredness trigger headaches. And
keep your mind and body on speaking terms through enjoyable
exercise and relaxing rituals. Practice yoga, take an evening bath
or, like Dr. Sharma, visit your massage therapist and get Cranial Sacral
Even a single massage may
boost your immune system, suggests a 2010 study in
the Journal of Alternative and Complementary
Medicine. Fewer colds can mean fewer sinus infections and relief
Ease the Ache
When a headache does come calling, how do you chase it away?
Since overuse of medication can trigger rebound headaches, consider
- Try a little do-it-yourself acupressure. Press your thumb into
the web between your opposite thumb and index finger. Hold for 30
to 40 seconds to relieve headache pain. Repeat on the other
- Steam away sinus pain and pressure. Put a few drops of
eucalyptus and tea tree oil in a bowl of boiling water and breathe
in the steam to relieve congestion.
- Breathe. Slow, deep breaths short-circuit the fight-or-flight
stress response and activate the calming effects of the
parasympathetic nervous system, Dr. Sharma explains.
"The jungle out there is not going to change," Dr. Sharma says.
"It's how you respond to stress that makes a difference."
- By Teresa Caldwell Board