Rein in seasonal stress to prevent painful headaches
Each December, our schedules fill up with errands, gatherings, and year-end celebrations. And while the season is meant to be a time of joy, all the hustle and bustle can take a toll on your health. Whether it’s waiting in long shopping lines, hosting the in-laws, or scrambling to finish work tasks before vacation, stress can be difficult to avoid.
This seasonal stress, alongside a busy social schedule, is particularly troublesome for those who suffer from headaches. The general pressure of the holidays combined with changes in sleep patterns and diet can trigger terrible tension-type headaches and migraines. Fortunately, a little discipline can go a long way towards preventing pain.
Learn how to manage stress and avoid headaches this holiday
- Plan ahead. Now is the time for to-do lists and time management strategies. You’ll want to avoid the stress of last-minute shopping, when lines are longest and stores are crowded. Similarly, if you’re traveling, allow extra time to get to the airport and anticipate delays. Making a plan, staying organized, and tackling tasks one at a time will help put your mind at ease.
- Be consistent. If you’re not careful, the seasonal hubbub can lead to late nights, missed meals, and subsequent headaches. Be strict about your sleep, aiming for at least 8 hours a night, and make a point to eat nutritiously and regularly.
- Know your triggers. Aged cheese, red wine, caffeine, and chocolate are heavily featured around the holidays. Unfortunately, they’re also common headache triggers. Limit or avoid foods that tend to coincide with your headaches, and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
- Make time for relaxation. Don’t let stress consume you. Take time each day to reset and relax. You can listen to music, dance, play a sport, practice yoga, meditate, read, or go for a daily walk.
- Have medication at hand. Keep your meds in stock and on hand to head off pain right when it starts. If you’re traveling, be sure you have a sufficient amount packed.
For more help managing stress this season, check out the American Psychological Association’s Holiday Stress Resource Center.