27 Tips to Beat that Headache!

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If you’ve ever suffered from headache pain, you know just how debilitating it can be. You simply can’t look, feel or perform your best if you have a headache. Two days ago I stayed up late, and had to wake up kind of early. That, plus juggling a lot of client stuff (it’s Oscar week!) and projects lead me to have a massive headache for a few hours. So this topic is very much on the forefront of my mind.

If you know and love a headache sufferer, or are one yourself, help is here!

Causes of Headaches

Headaches can be a symptom of all kinds of conditions, from allergies to migraines. Some common headache causes include:

  • Migraines: While medical science doesn’t know for sure what causes migraines, a number of things that may trigger their onset including certain foods, hormones, stress, and sunlight.
  • Allergies: Food allergies can trigger migraines. They can also cause sinus headaches due to congestion, as well as painful cluster headaches according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.
  • Stress: Not only can stress trigger migraines, but being stressed out can cause tight muscles. These muscles may squeeze nerves leading to the head, causing a headache. Stress also releases stress hormones such as cortisol, which can unbalance hormone levels in the body leading to headaches.
  • Hormones: According to the Mayo Clinic, fluctuating hormone patterns can cause headaches, particularly in women.
  • Alcohol: If you’ve ever over-imbibed only to wake up to a raging hangover, then you know exactly what I’m talking about! And really, few among us have not had this experience, right? Headaches from alcohol are likely due to inflammation and/or dehydration from alcoholic beverages, which also deplete B vitamins. This kind of headache is enough to swear off drinking- at least as long as you remember the extreme pain of the aftereffects. Tip: take a picture of yourself not looking so hot, lying in bed with “the spins” after a self-induced alcohol overindulgence, so you can look at it on your phone while you’re out and considering ordering another round of shots. :) 
  • Inflammation: Inflammatory processes in the body can pinch nerve pathways, leading to headaches and pain.

Tips for to Avoid Headaches

It’s worth a shot! You may be able to minimize the number of headaches you have by trying the following.

1. Avoid foods that trigger migraines

A number of these foods exist, so minimize or avoid them and you may have fewer headaches. Foods associated with triggering migraines include

  • Smoked or cured meatsavoid wine
  • Dairy products, especially cheese
  • Foods containing nitrates
  • MSG
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Canned soups
  • Food additives
  • Red wine
  • Pickles
  • Extremely cold foods, like ice cream

2. Avoid common allergens

The most common allergenic foods include:

  • Wheat
  • Soy
  • Corn
  • Peanuts
  • Dairy products
  • Shellfish

3. Get plenty of sleep by following a regular sleep schedule

4. Stay hydrated

Pay attention to what that yellow pee is telling you and drink up!

5. Moderate alcohol intake

I know that “moderate” means different things to different people. You may go out a lot, but just know that as you work to balance your diet and lifestyle, you really won’t need to drink as much as you did in the past to get a buzz. Really!

6. Minimize chemicals in your food by eating whole, organic plant foods and avoiding processed foods.

7. Get regular exercise

avoid headaches with regular exercise

Exercise reduces stress, which can help reduce the incidence of tension headaches. Yoga, which is my main form of physical activity (plus so much more), is highly recommended.

8. Having a Glowing Green Smoothie for breakfast is a great way to start with healthy, organic foods that support your body instead of stressing it

9. Engage in regular stress reduction activities such as meditation

Even sitting quietly and practicing deep breathing for a few minutes per day can help reduce stress.

10. Avoid caffeine, which can trigger headaches. Instead, drink water

11. Don’t smoke – Period

No compromises here. Also though, avoid second-hand smoke.

12. Eat foods with omega-3 fatty acids, which have an anti-inflammatory effect

Leafy greens, chia seeds, flaxseeds and walnuts are a few great sources. 

13. Avoid using chemical-based cleaning products and air fresheners around your house

14. Learn your headache triggers

By keeping a headache journal, you may be able to discover which foods and activities are triggering your headaches. What may trigger your headaches may be different than from your mother, roommate or hubby.

15. Use a humidifier

Dry air can irritate the sinuses, triggering a headache. Using a humidifier when you sleep may help keep your sinuses from growing irritated.

Tips for Headache Relief

Since headaches have very different causes and are such a common symptom, what works for one person may not work for another. Before you reach for that aspirin to fight your headache, however, you may want to try the following:

16. Listen to (calming) music

A 2001 study showed the benefits of music therapy for chronic headaches.

17. Take a whiff of lavender

lavender to stop headaches

Anecdotal evidence suggests that some people have experienced success at alleviating headaches by sniffing lavender essential oils.

18. Use ice

An ice pack on the top of your head may relieve a headache. You may also have success by placing an icepack on your neck.

19. Drink some ginger tea

Steeping some grated ginger in hot water and drinking it will reduce inflammation and may provide relief.

20. Eat some pumpkin seeds

Studies have shown that magnesium sulfate can relieve all types of headaches. Raw pumpkin seeds are high in magnesium, so they may be worth a try.

21. Exercise

Even a brisk 10 minute walk around the block releases endorphins, which have natural pain and stress fighting properties according to MedicineNet.

22. Use moist heat

If you feel your headache arises from tension in your neck, then dampen a towel with hot water. Place the towel on the back of your neck. I don’t own a microwave, but if you have one, one good use for it would be to reheat the damp towel!

23. Meditate

meditate to relieve headaches

Sit in a quite, comfortable place, close your eyes and pay attention to your breathing. Try visualizing relaxation throughout your body as you do this.

24. Eat something spicy

Studies have shown that capsaicin can relieve headaches, so have eat some hot peppers or sprinkle some cayenne or pepper flakes on your food.

25.  Massage your neck

If your headache is related to tension or stress, this can help relax the muscles and relieve your pain.

26. Take a fairly hot shower and be sure to get your head under the water

The heat of the water can help alleviate muscle tension that may be causing pain. This always seems to help me!

27. Lie down in the dark

Sometimes minimizing sensory input is the best way to stop your head from pounding. Take ten minutes in a dark, quiet room. This may be one of my favorite ones! Just chill out and tune out.

Hope this helps you and your head to feel your best! Have you ever beaten a headache with one of these tips, or do you have another to share?

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35 Responses to “27 Tips to Beat that Headache!

  1. Thank you for sharing this wonderful advice. I will be sure to refer back when I need headache relief!

  2. I have been suffering migraines since the early part of this year. My doc seems to think that I am having barometric migraines. All I know is they are very debilitating as I have auras around my vision, get very sick on my stomach, light hurts my eyes and I get very dizzy. He has given me topramax 50mg a night as a preventative and it has help with the severity and the number if migraines that I get monthly. But the last 3 or 4 weeks they are beginning to get bad again. I am wondering what you would suggest that maybe would help me. I will be seeing my doc again around the 16th of December and I am Not wanting him to have to up the dosage or add anything else if we can help them some other way. Thanks so much in advance. ~ gayle

  3. Has anyone tried to use Sinol Nasal Spray? It’s an OTC and is being given out by the New England Center for Headache and works fast for headache relief. Finally a product that can abort the headache before it become debilitating.

  4. I have to avoid even more foods than those listed as causing migraines, including walnuts, wine, chocolate, and cheese. Furthermore, I cannot consume chocolate and cheese within the same day. And, I find that most migraine-inducing foods are also constipating. If I’m “all clear”, I rarely have a migraine. So, green really is the way to go; at least for me. And, I agree that massage works. I’ve been able to stop an aura that’s coming on from deep breathing, massage, and over-all relaxation of the mind and body. It’s amazing how much control you have over at least reducing the headache, if not totally getting rid of it, once you become very centered. Lastly, acupuncture has helped me tremendously with headaches. After going for just a few weeks, I began to notice a HUGE difference in my sensitivies to headaches.

  5. I also forgot to add in my previous comment that some people recommend fermenting grains if you are going to eat them and I was wondering what you thought about that as well.

  6. Hi Kim, I’ve been following your blog for a few years now and I’m excited about your new book. I don’t think you’ve done a blog about the paleo diet before unless I missed it somehow, but I would really love and appreciate if you could address this diet/lifestyle that is getting more and more popular. I know you are a vegan and consume certain grains, so I would really like to know what your opinion is on the paleo perspective on grains and fat consumption. Paleo and primal diet followers consume a lot of fats through meats, eggs, and some may consume raw/organic dairy as well. They claim that grains are not an optimal food for human beings and that our bodies should be running on fat rather than carbohydrates. Also, my initial thoughts about this diet were that it could not be healthy because it was extremely acid-forming but now I’m hearing and reading that this is a myth and what actually matters as far as acid/alkaline balance is mineral consumption and foods like bone broth have a lot of minerals. Do you have any thoughts or concern about the phytic acid content in grains that can interfere with calcium absorption? This diet is very different from what you practice and write about so that’s why I’m very interested to hear what your thoughts are. Also, what interests me is that you recommend a sugar-free diet that includes some grains for candida sufferers, I have been dealing with candida for a very long time now and I feel that a vegan approach is not appropriate for me because I am not digesting vegetables very well and not getting enough minerals, so I was considering the paleo or GAPS diet. I am also concerned that grains are interfering with mineral absorption. I realize you cannot give me personal health advice, but if you could provide your general opinion on the paleo diet and grains it would be very helpful. Thank you!

  7. Thanks so much for this Kimberley. Sorry you have been suffering. I definitely can relate – when I met you at GlowBIO the day before it opened I actually mentioned to you that I have been suffering from chronic migraines, and was taking some time away from the UK. You had mentioned the GGS, hydration and fennel to me, but I couldn’t remember the rest of the tips you had given me. So am very glad you wrote this article :) Although I think you had also mentioned your GlowBIO detox shot?

    The difficulty I find is that when I have a headache I don’t feel like keeping a regular sleeping routine, or getting any exercise etc. I just want to close the blinds, keep away from light or movement, take my meds, go to sleep and try and sleep the pain away. And that obviously throws off my body clock and I find myself craving sugar, carbs and caffeine…in the cold weather I tend to crave bread…

    Red wine is going to be difficult to give up. It’s the only alcohol I really allow myself any more. Stress and hormones are definite triggers for me. I shall definitely be trying the tips for headache relief. Thank you as always and hope you are feeling better :)

  8. Our pets are great sorts of comfort to calm down our nervous systems. i will take a short 10 to 20 minutes cuddling up and close with my lovable, companionate, cuddly, soothing gentle Saint Bernard! Luna knows to come join me for a break which really helps me take a step back to take care of ME TIME — really helps me get grounded. Chilling with her helps automatically slows my breathing and my racing mind :) When you are done bonding — make sure and thank your loyal pet!!

  9. Thank you for all of the wonderful information. I was referred to your page by a pharmacist who loves your page.
    Life should be much simpler than it is now.
    One of my suggestions…Drink Kangen Alkaline Water.
    It keeps you hydrated and reduces unwanted acids inside our bodies that are brought on by everyday infantries.

  10. My mom would give us regular head massages with olive oil or coconut oil at nighttime and doing a yoga move called Kapal Bhatti (continuously expelling air from your stomach) for 5-10 mins a day is also good.

  11. Kimberly – the Glowing Green Smoothie is chock full of magnesium which we need for proper nerve and muscle function. This may be supplemented by adding some magnesium chloride or magnesium malate to the smoothie.

  12. I have lived with migraines and bad headaches for 13 years since the car accident. Three damage vertebra’s and one that was broken. I loss apart of my clavical bone and three operations on my shoulder and neck. My MS kicked into high gear, that put a great deal of pressure on my head, to the point of blacking out. Only thing they do for me is pump me up with steriods and pain killers. Since the liberation treatment I have way more of my life back and lost the 60 pounds that I have gained, most of all out of my wheel chair. Headaches are a big part of my life. A lot of what you are saying is very true. The only thing that I would also say is vitamine D3 is very important, up it to even 10,000 units a day and liquid B 12. They are very important for healing and help bring the inflamation down. Drinking a lot of water is really important. Make sure you stay away from foods that can cause your blood vessels to inflame. I work hard to keep a good attitude, believe or not it is the number one thing people need to learn to deal with this, or any type of pain. The more miserable you are, the more pain you are in. I love to listen to Christian music, pray and meditate on God’s word (I am a Christian, and pastor wife.) Having a sense of humour helps to relax muscles. I listen to people speak on bettering myself, keeps my attitude in check. I have had 20 operations and not counting the injuries, that is why they call me Jackie Chan, so I keep a good sense of humour (which helps relax muscles), I always try to look on the bright side of losing body parts. If you don’t move you will get worse, it will lock up muscles and will be harder to bring back. Thanks for the article, I thought I put in a couple of things since I live with it, and see to many people live in a bad state, and not move to have a better life. Things happen and life has to change, life does not stop because you have damage or pain. When you stop you get worse. Move to get better. Your attitude will either make you better or bitter the choice is up to us.

  13. These suggestions are really great for Migraine Sufferers.
    I have been getting Migraine’s since as long as I can remember and the biggest thing I want to stress on this list is FIND YOUR TRIGGERS. I was pretty surprised looking at this list because a lot of the tips I already knew because I have been pretty determined to find a cure for my migraines…or at least help curb them with a change in my daily routine. Some other tricks that have helped me are:

    Using the microwavable heat pads – Heat them up for 3 minutes and put them on your neck/shoulders and forehead or over your eyes.

    Find a medicine that works for you – This is of course the last thing you want to do (take more meds), but finding a medicine that works and taking it right when you realize your headache is turning into a migraine will help you maintain a somewhat normal lifestyle without dealing with the pain.

    Getting on birth control – Be careful with this one because some birth controls can actually cause migraines, but just speak with your doctor. I take my BC 3 months in a row and it has helped to dramatically reduce my period/hormone migraines.

    Make yourself freezing – i know it sounds weird, but there have been times when i have such a bad migraine and i will open up the windows of my car in the middle of winter, go for a walk with just a t shirt on in winter, or put the shower on cold and for some reason or another it actually helps alleviate the pain.

    Drink beer – obviously stay away from any type of alcohol when you have a headache or are a migraine sufferer, but if you are going to drink, drink beer. For some reason i don’t get bad headaches like i do with hard alcohol or wine.

    Hope this helps a few more :)

  14. Thank you so much for this read up on head aches. You are always on the money! I suffer from them especially around my monthly cycle and other times too, so it is good to know the different things that may cause and relieve! Thank Kim!

    kim
    xx

  15. Very comprehensive and informative. My Dr. Suggested I try 250 mg of magnesium morning and night. I take 400 mg at night , which she said was fine, and it seems to be working.

  16. I am 53 this year and, one of the few who never suffer from headaches. You mention cayenne pepper. I have been hooked on cayenne pepper for at least 10 years. I eat cayenne pepper with almost everything except, bananas.

  17. I get really bad migraines and I found that if I soak my feet in REALLY hot water with epson salts [preferably the ones with eucalyptus in it] it goes away like magic.

  18. Love these tips, especially the lavender oil in a hot bath or on a pillow in a cool dark room, and rubbing my neck or temples.

    Just wanted to see if I’m missing any emails. I’ve signed up for the Glowing Lean System and have you white listed but haven’t received any special Glowing Lean Member Newsletters or the bonus that was to be announced a couple weeks ago. Please advise. Sorry to post here but I don’t seem to be able to get a response through support.

    Thanks,
    Jade~

  19. Often, when I have a regular headache (migraines are very different), I have noticed that my breathing is irregular. Meaning, there’s a tendency to be mostly breathing through only one nostril. And the pain is usually felt in the opposite temple. I, then, concentrate on my breath…breathing in one nostril while softly blocking the other, then letting it out the opposite nostril and moving my finger to block the other nostril. Keep alternating. And relatively quickly I balance my breathing and the headache dissapates without medication.

  20. I’ve been reading about oil pulling as a way to relieve congestion and toxins from the body. Have you heard of it, and would you recommend it?

  21. Hi Kimberly. Thank you so much for this timely and excellent information. I’ve been a migraine sufferer since I was very young. Unfortunately, I will drink Coke to help get rid of a headache. What do you suggest to help me transition away from soda without getting a ton of migraines? Thanks :)

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