How to relieve a headache

Nobody like headaches. Well, nobody who has had a headache likes them. Unless you’re one of the rare people who has never had a headache and is seeking a new experience. If that’s you, do the opposite to these nine tips.

But for those who don’t like headaches and who are not too keen on downing a handful of paracetamol or ibuprofen, these tips will give you fast relief from headaches. And the best part is there are nine to choose from, so one of them is bound to work for you!

1. Drink water
At the first sign of a headache, head to the tap, pour yourself a glass of water and down it fast. Dehydration is a leading cause of headaches and migraines. Drinking a glass of water can relieve symptoms in 30 minutes (or up to three hours).

2. Close your eyes and rest
Often tension is the source of your headache, so something as simple as closing your eyes and resting can sort out the pain in your head. Just switch off the lights, close the blinds and relax. If you can sleep, all the better.

3. Massage your neck and temples
Gently rubbing your neck and temples improves blood flow and can help calm a tension headache.

4. Warm up or cool down
Place a heat pack or warm cloth at the base of your skull. If heat is not the answer, try applying a cold or frozen compress to your neck instead. They may even work better on your head. The idea is to decrease inflammation, slow down nerve conduction and constrict your blood vessels. This often reduces headache and migraine pain.

5. Just relax
Often easier said than done, I know. But when a headache strikes, try sitting still and breathing deeply. Put your feet firmly on the floor and focus on your breath – count to five on the in breath, hold for five, then breathe out counting to five. You just learnt a valuable meditation technique – one that will help you in many aspects of your life. Relaxation techniques, such as this one, can significantly reduce tension headaches and tension in general. It’s a valuable stress reduction technique and one that’s so easy to remember.

6. Remove yourself from stress
Could stress be the cause of your headache? Remove yourself from the situation. Literally step away from the stress.

7. Acupressure
I can personally vouch for this one when you have a bad headache. There’s a reason acupressure has been practised for 1700 years or so. An acupoint called LI-4, also called Hegu, is located between the base of your thumb and index finger, and by gently rubbing this spot you can release muscle tension and improve blood flow.

Using your right thumb and index finger, find the space on your left hand between the base of your left thumb and index finger. Using a circular motion, press down on this point for five minutes, but don’t press so hard that it hurts. Then repeat the process on your right hand. Perform as often as needed for your symptoms to go away.

8. Use essential oils
Peppermint and lavender essential oils are especially helpful when you have a headache. Simply dab a bit onto a tissue and breathe it in or pour some onto a cotton ball and leave nearby. Essential oils can also be lightly applied to your upper lip, but I recommend the cotton ball tip for best results.

9. Drink tea or coffee
Caffeine can eliminate headaches and migraines, but it can also be a catalyst. If you’ve just finished your fourth cup and are experiencing headache symptoms, then maybe another cup isn’t the answer. But if you’ve gone light on the coffee or tea recently, a headache may mean time to pour a cup. Headaches can actually be a sign of caffeine withdrawal.

Caffeine can improve your mood, increase alertness and constrict blood vessels, and can have a positive effect on headache symptoms by increasing the effectiveness of common medications used to treat headaches.

Do you have any tips for headache relief?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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