Tips to Control Chronic Headaches

Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D

To control your headaches, first find out what "triggers" your headaches and what makes it worse. Here is a list of such triggers and aggravators to help you identify yours: anxiety, anger, depression, flickering light, glare, eye strain, fasting, alcohol, nicotine, cheese, chocolate, humidity, temperature and weather changes, and in women, hormonal factors associated with menstrual cycle.

Students of the Living 201 class know that chronic headaches can't be treated by just popping pills. Chronic headache sufferers need to effect deeper and far reaching changes in themselves as a person. Perfectionist, rigid, hostile or highly driven are more vulnerable to headaches. If you see a relationship between your headaches and these personality characteristics, try to loosen up on them. These characteristics will be a constant source of frustration, unhappiness, and tension for you.

As headache sufferers become anxious, angry, or depressed on account of headaches, they suffer more headaches, thus forming a vicious cycle. Worries about medication, nausea, future, etc. raise fears and negative thoughts that would prolong and worsen your headache.

Do not allow a headache to destroy your self-esteem. For example, if you have to cancel an appointment because of headache, it is okay to feel inconvenienced or, even distressed, but to feel "devastated" because, "I have absolutely lost control over my life" is not a smart thing to do.

Try to change the headache-related "negative talk" inside your head to a "positive talk." Negative talk inside the head consists of such thoughts, "I am sick of having this damn headache. I can't get anything done. I can do nothing to stop it and nobody can help me. " Headache related positive talk may go like this, "If I stay calm and do my relaxation, this headache may let up and I may be able to finish some of the work. " It helps to remind yourself and believe that you are bigger than your headache.

A common stress in the headache sufferer is brought about by rumination on some unhappy events of the past and the distress of the present. At such times, distract yourself by doing light manual work, relaxation, or a leisure activity.

Most commonly reported complaints prior to the onset of headaches are stress and negative emotions. Getting a handle on stress and negative emotions must become a priority in control of chronic headaches.

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Copyright 2000, Mind Publications 


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