Top 10 Ways To Avoid or Reduce Headache and Migraine Pain

Headaches and migraines can be horrible, but there actually are numerous ways you can reduce their pain or even eliminate them completely.

Most of these are strategies you can implement without too much trouble, and which should pay dividends almost immediately in reduced stress and headache or migraine triggers.

Read on for the top 10 ways you can avoid or reduce your headache or migraine pain.

Get Plenty of Sleep

Getting plenty of sleep can help with headaches.
Getting plenty of sleep can help with headaches. Tara Moore/Getty Images

Too much, too little, or disrupted sleep is a very common trigger of headache and migraine. Experts recommend that you set times to go to bed and get up, and then stick to those times, even on weekends and during vacation. If you don’t feel rested after a night’s sleep or experience excessive daytime sleepiness, talk to your doctor about a sleep study to rule out sleep disorders.

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Eat Well and Often

When you skip meals, your blood sugar can plummet, potentially triggering or contributing to a headache or migraine. Therefore, you should make sure to eat regularly, even if you're just grabbing a snack (and even if your hectic schedule works against you on this). Try to plan balanced meals regularly, and keep healthy snacks handy, while at the same time steering clear of fast food snacks (surprisingly, junk food may contribute to headaches in some people).

Don't Get Dehydrated

To avoid headaches and migraine, you should make sure to drink enough. For some people, even mild dehydration can trigger head pain, so drinking lots of fluids is essential. Water is best — some fruit juices, plus the caffeine found in coffee, tea and many soft drinks, can trigger headaches and migraine. Proper hydration is essential to good health in general, so you’ll be working on more than just head pain prevention by doing this.

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Play Trigger Detective

Try keeping a daily headache and migraine diary, which can help you track foods, activities and other factors that may lead to head pain. You may encounter a trigger up to 48 hours before a headache or migraine begins, so a carefully kept diary may reveal patterns you just hadn’t spotted before. Also, even if you can't spot the headache or migraine triggers yourself (or there just aren't any obvious ones), that information alone may help your doctor.

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Research Your Condition

We’re all ultimately responsible for our own health. Therefore, I've included this tip on the top 10 list, since educating yourself on head pain causes, symptoms and treatments is essential for you to be able to help yourself. Once you understand your condition, you can better care for yourself, avoid episodes if possible, and lessen the impact of episodes when they can’t be avoided. You also can tell your doctor what she needs to know, and better understand what your doctor is saying to you about your condition and treatment.

Take Time for Yourself

We all need time to ourselves. Set aside a period of time every day that is just for you. Whether you meditate, listen to a relaxation or meditation app, exercise a bit, or just sit quietly doing nothing, use this time to focus on you, how you’re feeling, and what you need. This ultimately will pay off, leaving you more relaxed and aware of yourself.

Build a Headache-Specific Support System

Do you ever feel like you’re constantly complaining about your condition around your family and friends (or worse yet, have they mentioned that it's all you ever talk about)? This is an easy cycle to lapse into — if something like constant headache pain is consuming your life, it's difficult to avoid dropping it into every conversation. But you'll be better off finding people who also are afflicted by head pain for advice and mutual support. There are live support groups in some cities and towns, and there are online forums where you can almost always find someone in a similar situation who will understand. You’re NOT alone.

Wear Your Shades

Consider sunglasses as an investment, not just a throwaway summer fashion accessory — proper shades can help prevent headaches and migraines. Optical-grade lenses don’t have the distortion that some inexpensive lenses have, and polarization is essential for cutting glare. Wear them whenever the light is bothersome, even if it's indoors. Add a baseball cap when light comes in above the sunglasses so the cap's bill can block that light. Your eyes (and your head) will thank you.

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Watch Your Overall Health

When you have a particular health problem such as headaches or migraine, it’s easy to concentrate on that problem and ignore our overall health. Don’t fall into this trap. Good overall health is essential when you're struggling with any more specific health problem. If you stay generally healthy, you may even help yourself contain your head pain.

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

So what if there’s an undone load of laundry, a few dishes in the sink, or a couple of minor household repairs awaiting our attention? Stop worrying — the house almost certainly won't fall down around you. You simply shouldn't stress over the small stuff. Stress can trigger tension headaches and can contribute to migraines. Learn to prioritize and do what you're able to do each day without stressing.

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