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Stress and Headaches: How To Break The Cycle

Stress and Headaches: Breaking the Cycle

Stress is part of everyday life and, in fact, everybody will benefits from healthy levels of stress mainly as a motivational tool and as a response to potentially dangerous situations. But when stress becomes chronic in frequency, severe in intensity, or prolonged in duration, then it puts the mind and body into faster wear and tear so much so that the risks for chronic degenerative diseases increase with uncontrolled or unmanaged stress.

Stress Cycle

But it does not stop there either! Stress has been linked to headaches including migraines, too. When a stress-related headache starts, it generates more physical and mental stress that makes the pain even worse and, thus, begins the vicious cycle.

Keep in mind that it is mental stress that will more likely lead to headaches and migraines although physical stress can also be their precursor. Regardless of the root cause, experts agree that effective stress management is a crucial component of effective headache and migraine management.

Headaches including migraines start when the nerves and blood vessels in the head transmit pain signals to the brain. This results in the characteristic symptoms of pain on one or both sides of the head, which may be isolated in a specific point or radiate to other areas as well as be a sharp pain, a throbbing sensation, or a dull ache. This painful attack can either develop gradually or suddenly and either last for a few hours or a few days.

No matter the frequency, duration and severity of headaches and migraines, one thing remains clear: You will want to resolve these health conditions as soon as possible lest these adversely affect your quality of life.

Stress Management to Cut Off the Cycle

Fortunately, uncontrolled acute or chronic stress as a precursor for headaches and migraines can be resolved with the determination to finally manage it instead of letting it dominate, so to speak, your life. You will then be more likely to stop the self-perpetuating cycle of stress-headache-stress by taking control with the following useful tips:

  • Identify your stress triggers. Just as you are well advised to maintain a headache diary to identify your food triggers, then you should also do the same for stress. Take note about your possible sources of stress that result in headaches. Be specific about these triggers such as the persons behind the stressful situations, the date and time, and your reaction.
  • Figure out the ways to avoid these triggers, to lessen your exposure to the stressful persons and situations, and to change your reactions to these stressors, among other ways of coping. Keep in mind that you may not be able to completely avoid the stressful situations in your life but you can change your reactions to these things and, in the process, lessen the risks for yet another headache attack.
  • Adopt effective stress management measures in your daily life. Even the smallest things like taking a break, engaging in deep breathing exercises, and paying attention to your internal dialogue for the purpose of lessening your inner stress, among others, will be a bug help.

Seek professional help, too, when necessary! You need not manage your headaches and migraines on your own – call your doctor ASAP.

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