On this episode of Just Jana, Jana talks about the dreaded tension headache and what we can do to prevent it. Whether you got up after a rough night’s sleep to a crying baby waking you up or you had to wake up a grumpy teenager, that creeping headache feeling marks so many mornings for mom bosses. Instead of instinctively reaching for the pain meds, Jana offers some simple, pragmatic strategies to understand and overcome headaches and restore confidence in our bodies.
The first key to beating stress headaches comes from, you guessed it, hydration. The brain is the central processing unit of the computer and is the first organ to be hydrated. Not including those monster migraines, a ton of headaches are actually caused by dehydration. Therefore, understanding our need for hydration is especially important. The worst thing for our bodies is to have no idea what’s going on in our bodies. When we know why something is happening, we can take control of it.
Often, when we are dealing with headaches, we do the opposite of what we should to relieve it. We retreat into our postures, bringing our shoulders up to our ears, and start to breathe shallowly. We call off our fitness classes and stay tense at our desks, when we should actually relieve tension through movement.
Try this exercise to identify where your tension is sitting: Imagine you have a pencil on your nose and draw a line across the horizon. Inhale through your nose and draw that line as far over to the right-hand side of your body as you can. Exhale and draw that line all the way back toward the left. Pay attention to the quality of your movement. Look at your posture and where you’re holding tension. Is it a smooth glide? Is there snapping, crackling, and popping? Is it worse on one side?
Now, try this exercise to release some of that tension: Stand facing your wall and place a tennis ball between the wall and your forehead. Press into the ball and move your head a little from side to side, almost like a zigzag stitch on a sewing machine. Pressing into this tennis ball allows us to release fascial tissue, target the acupressure points around our skull, and bring blow flow to the brain that we need to be our most amazing selves.
Another important strategy to understand headaches is to understand your hormones. Journal your monthly cycle and keep track of when these headaches pop up. Implement tension release and extra hydration on the days when you notice a pattern of pain.
In line with this, make sure to seek out compassionate, effective clinicians who are not one-size-fits-all and actually listen to your needs. Find a team of clinicians who understand your headaches and can help you implement strategies to prevent and treat them when they happen.
Finally, the tip to beat headaches that no one likes to hear is to be mindful of sugar intake. If you’re like Jana, fuzzy peaches are your kryptonite. The only way to overcome sugar addiction is to think about mind over matter. This means that when you eat sugar, enjoy your sugar, and try to incorporate mindfulness into snacking. Look at ways to fuel your body in a way that will be sustainable in allowing you to show up for your family, friends, and career.
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