In today’s hectic pace of living, headaches have become a common occurrence. Often, they are not severe enough to warrant a visit to the doctor and most people opt instead to get rid of tension headache with over-the-counter medicines and other homeopathic means.
But as anyone who has had it knows, tension headaches get in the way of daily activities and affect the quality of living and one’s well-being. This ailment may be episodic and acute, or it may be chronic, occurring on an almost daily basis. The pain ranges from mild to moderate and unlike migraines, there is no accompanying “aura.”
I used to have these headaches when I was working in an office. I remember downing pain killers like they were water. But repeated and frequent use of medicines results in tolerance, diminishing their effectivity, and puts a strain on the liver. If you suffer from tension headache, try natural remedies too. Here are strategies to prevent and treat tension headache.
Natural ways to get rid of tension headache
1. Learn to manage stress
Stress is the top cause of tension headache. But it’s also something that we cannot escape from while we’re alive. The following techniques have been found to reduce stress and relax you physically and mentally:
Breathing exercise. When you’re in a stressful situation (for ex., beating the deadline on a report, a difficult encounter with another person,) a breathing exercise helps to calm you down and avoid getting a headache. Get away for a few minutes and find a quiet spot where you can be alone. Consciously practice rhythmic and deep breathing by inhaling slowly to a count of five, then exhaling slowly also to the same count. You are bringing in more oxygen to your body and this helps you to relax.
Progressive muscle relaxation – this method for curing a headache has two steps. First, focus on a group of muscles, inhale and tense them for 10 seconds. For ex., clench your hands into fists, or shut your eyes as tightly as you can. Then, exhale and relax the muscles quickly, not gradually.
Wait 10-20 seconds before starting on the next muscle group. When you have finished, count backward 5 to 1 to bring you back to the present. It’s as easy as that!
2. Live a healthy lifestyle.
Get the right amount of sleep.
Too little or too much sleep can trigger tension headache. If the body is sleep-deprived, it releases high levels of protein that agitate your nervous system. Oversleeping causes fluctuations in the body’s serotonin production. In both cases, headache can develop. Aim for seven to nine hours of restful sleep to get rid of tension headache.
Eat a healthy diet.
Eat more of fruits and vegetables, and whole grains. Avoid foods seasoned with the additive MSG and foods containing the preservative nitrate. Eat less of sweets, chocolates, cheese and dairy products, and drink alcoholic beverages and coffee in moderation.
Stop smoking and start a regular exercise routine.
A 20-minute meditation when you feel stressed out is calming because it resets your perspective, reminding you of your smallness in this vast universe
- Take a cold or warm shower. Either one will do. The cool water helps reduce inflammation of your tense muscles and warm water decompresses the tense muscles causing your headache.
- Hydrate. Loss of body fluids through urine, sweat, exposure to sun and physical activity causes muscle tightening that leads to tension headache. Replenish your body fluids with water or oral rehydration solutions (ORS) to help your muscles loosen up.
- Have a massage. Massage relaxes the tense muscles in your body, decreases nerve compression and improves blood circulation.
- Drink coffee. Caffeine taken in moderation improves your mood and constricts the blood vessels which become enlarged when you have a headache. It also increases the effectiveness of headache medications.
- Use essential oils. Rub peppermint oil on your temples or inhale the scent of lavender oil. Tiger Balm, an ointment containing camphor and menthol, is an effective remedy for muscle aches and headaches.
- Take supplements and herbal tablets. Most popular for relieving the pain of a tension headache are butterbur, feverfew, magnesium and Vitamin B complex.