5 Ways To Avoid A Tension Headache

Man holding his temples with headache
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Some things in life are simply out of our control. For instance, many of us are genetically predisposed to developing headaches. While there is nothing we can do to alter our DNA, there are things we can do to help minimize, cope, and even prevent our headaches.

So, how can you avoid a tension headache? Let's review 5 things you can do to help avoid this burdensome headache.

1. Get Sleep: Sleep deprivation is frequently associated with both tension headaches and migraines.

If you feel that sleep is a culprit in your tension headaches, than it's a good idea to maintain both a headache diary and sleep log for at least 24 hours. Be sure to include measures that promote sleep – like sleep aids – and wakefulness – like alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine – in your diary. Bring your headache diary and sleep log to your doctor's visit so you can correlate patterns together.

2. Reduce Stress: Tension headaches are often referred to as "stress headaches." This is not surprising as people with these headaches commonly report stress and anxiety as triggers. Behavioral therapies – like relaxation and cognitive-behavioral therapy – are sometimes used to treat tension headaches, especially those that are chronic. Cognitive-behavioral therapy involves learning how to identify headache triggers and cope with them in a more adaptive, less stressful manner. Practicing other stress management techniques – like yoga – could also help you avoid these headaches in the future.

3. Exercise:  Maintaining a consistent exercise regimen may help you cope and even avoid or at least diminish your tension headaches. In one small study in Headache, women with tension headaches who underwent progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) exercises had fewer headaches a week when compared to women who did not engage in these exercises.

4. Watch What You Eat and Drink: Sufferers of tension headaches sometimes report certain foods as headache triggers – although foods classically have been associated with precipitating migraines. A headache diary can help you determine whether certain meals affect your headaches. Drinking the right fluids is also important when avoiding a headache. For instance, water intake is important as is avoiding alcohol. Caffeine intake for a headache is a somewhat controversial topic that requires more individualized thought.

5. Eat on Time: It's not only what you eat and drink, but how often. If you suffer from tension headaches, it's important to not skip meals. Many of us lead hectic lives, and while it is easy to "grab-and-go" or simply forget to eat, this unhealthy habit can only lead to more headaches.

Take Home Message

Remain proactive in your healthcare. While you cannot control your genetics or avoid all of your headache triggers, you can cope properly by adopting a healthy lifestyle.


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DISCLAIMER: The information in this site is for educational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for personal care by a licensed physician. Please see your doctor for diagnosis and treatment of any concerning symptoms or medical condition.

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