Tips to manage your headaches – Part 1

Common headaches occur frequently in humans, so it is vital we learn some management strategies we can apply ourselves, to try to ward the headaches off.

We all know that feeling of tension within our head that creeps up on us at often the most inconvenient of times – the dreaded headache! We may have been staring at the computer, have sat in an awkward position, we may not have slept properly or we may be terribly stressed.

Headaches are usually harmless, however if any unusual or persistent headaches occur it is best to seek advice from your doctor, and in some cases a referral to a neurologist may be needed.

Headache Management Strategies


Seek Professional Advice from Your GP

It is important to visit your doctor for an accurate diagnosis of your headache and to rule out any injury that may be the cause of your headache. Your GP can also assist you in creating a Headache Management Plan, in which you will;

  • Learn more about headache types
  • Identify triggers which cause headaches
  • Review your lifestyle
  • Keep a Headache Diary
  • Consider lifestyle changes that could reduce/assist you through your headaches


Keep a Headache Diary

By keeping a diary, you can record what you eat, you drink, your medication changes, hormonal cycle and major changes to your environment over time. This can be used to identify patterns or triggers causing you headaches. This will also assist your GP in diagnosing the type of headache/s you may be suffering. Here is a headache diary template.

Review your Lifestyle

Consider your lifestyle both at home and in the workplace. Review your stress factors which may include; work, family, financial, health, pace of life, diet, posture, environment, medical support and routines.

Identify and Avoid Triggers

Triggers are factors that bring on a headache in people who may be sensitive to that factor. These will be different in different individuals. Triggers can include:

  • hormonal changes in women
  • stress
  • dietary factors
  • alcohol consumption
  • environmental factors
  • too much or too little sleep
  • physical exertion
  • bright lights
  • poor work conditions


Once an individual’s triggers are identified, where possible, exclude that factor from your life. Hopefully this may lead to weaker, less frequent or even an absence of headaches. Where avoidance of a trigger is near impossible, plans can be put into place to minimise their impact, once identified.

active ageing

Adopt Lifestyle Changes

Lifestyle changes include:

  • Eating healthily and regularly
  • Drinking less caffeine
  • Decreasing alcohol consumption
  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Exercising regularly
  • Having sufficient regular sleep
  • Improving posture and
  • Ensuring that work and living areas are well ventilated and well lit.


Learning Stress Management Techniques

  • Learning to control stress and relax
  • Deep breathing exercises during minor stress
  • Learning to say NO when you are overloaded with work and commitments
  • Learning organisational skills
  • Trying meditation or yoga.


Plan Ahead

A nasty headache will likely impact your life and lifestyle in some way. Be prepared, so that in their onset you have a plan.

  • Look out for warning signs of a headache
  • Keep your medication on hand
  • Have a backup plan.


Help Yourself Through a Headache

Once you recognise an oncoming headache:

  • Try to stop what you are doing and relax
  • Try to ease tension from your head and neck by stretching
  • Take any prescribed medication specifically for headaches


Other techniques which may help:

  • Lying down in a dark and quiet room
  • Sleeping
  • Cold or warm cloth on the forehead of back of the neck
  • Taking a brisk walk in fresh air.