We all know that feeling of dread that comes with the anticipation of yet another family holiday. Maybe it’s not the presence of your kin you despise, but the fact that there is nothing for you to do except sit around and watch other people drink eggnog…
How many times have you heard ‘I’m so excited for Christmas this year!’… and thought ‘… because you get presents?’ If this sounds familiar, here are ways to make your holidays much more bearable.
Take Warm Showers
A hot shower before bed will relax your muscles and improve blood flow to tender areas like your neck and shoulders. It’s also a great way to relieve mental stress as you prepare for bed. The key is to not get too hot, or you’ll actually have the opposite effect and end up feeling more awake.
Get More Z’s
Getting a proper night’s sleep is a great way to prevent headaches. This includes following a consistent sleep schedule and avoiding naps during the day. Set your alarm for bedtime and stick to it, even on weekends! If you can stay up until midnight every day of the week, your body will think that you only really get 7 hours of sleep.
Get a Massage
This is a great way to relax and ease the tension that you might be feeling in your muscles. Headaches, neck aches, and back pain can all benefit from regular walk-in massage therapy sessions. Professional massages have various health benefits. So why not ask someone who loves you (like family or friends) for a gift certificate to their favorite spa.
Eat Small Meals
This doesn’t have to mean grazing all day long, just take it one meal at a time and don’t eat until you’re completely stuffed. If you’re a frequent sufferer of heartburn or acid reflux, it’s best to avoid drinking hot liquids with your meals as they can relax the valve between your stomach and esophagus.
If you do get frequent digestion problems, try eating several small meals throughout the day instead of just one or two bigger ones. This will help keep your digestive system moving throughout the day, rather than letting it slow down just because you’ve eaten less.
Mind what you use
Some people try to avoid harsh chemicals during this time of year, but what about the products you’re using in your home? If you use scented candles, incense, or plug-ins during the holidays, it’s time to rethink your strategy.
They may smell great and give the house a festive flair, but these products can cause or worsen headache symptoms. If you get headaches related to scents, try keeping your home as scent-free as possible during the holidays.
Avoid headache triggers
Take a look in your medicine cabinet before you leave for holiday parties this year. Do you see anything that would be considered a headache trigger? If so, why not switch them out for some new products. Look specifically for anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen and aspirin as these can cause headaches in some people when taken too often.
Don’t forget to check your pantry! Did you know that MSG (monosodium glutamate) can trigger a tension headache in some people? If you love to cook, you might be unknowingly using this potent flavor enhancer when making your favorite holiday dishes.
Mind your drinking
Is there anything wrong with enjoying a glass of wine or a beer during the holidays? Not at all! However, if you’re getting frequent headaches from alcohol, try cutting back. Some people can turn to alcohol as a way of managing their stress levels, but this will only do more harm than good in the long run.
Be Proactive with Meds
Many people suffer from chronic tension headaches, especially during the hectic holiday season. If this is you, why not see if your doctor can prescribe something to prevent them? A regular dose of ibuprofen or acetaminophen can also help if you’ve already got a headache brewing. Just don’t let this turn into a habit, especially if you’ve got frequent tension headaches.
Put Down the Coffee
Caffeine can leave you feeling dehydrated and fatigued, both of which will contribute to a worsening headache. For every cup of coffee or soda that you drink, try drinking at least an equal amount of water to compensate for the fluids lost during digestion.
Set Yourself Up for Success
Make sure to make time for yourself every day. Whether it’s 10 minutes or an hour, you need some me time! This will help reduce stress and strengthen your mind-body connection which can have a positive impact on headaches. If this is not possible because of the holiday season hustle, try to do something that you enjoy every day.
It might help to create a list of goals and prioritize them for yourself. On days when it’s hard to fit everything in, make sure to cross off as many things as possible. Don’t be afraid to ask for help; we all know sometimes it takes a village! These simple strategies can help stop tension headaches in their tracks and help you make it through the holiday season.