Stress and Headaches



How does stress affect your wellbeing? And how is stress related to getting headaches? There are many paths to this and I will discuss the most common ways stress can make you more headache prone.

Stress can affect our sleep. Americans just do not get enough sound, restful and restorative sleep. Studies suggest that few of us get the necessary eight hours each night. Tossing and turning, and simply not recovering from the previous day, adds tension to your morning. Sleep deprivation itself can lead to headaches. Sometimes we compensate for this by taking in a lot of caffeine each day, which can then create a vicious cycle, making us jittery and affecting our ability to fall asleep later that night.

How we react to it stress also affects us. Some of us literally "take it out' on our bodies, channeling the stress into our neck and shoulders. This can cause tension-type headaches where the back muscles of your neck are tight and ropey. "Knots" in the muscles can develop, sending shooting pains into your head, as if it's trapped in a vise, being squeezed by the muscle tension.

Stress can affect us by disrupting our normal healthy routine. Instead of eating right and exercising, we resort to eating junk foods and avoiding the gym. Over-eating and not maintaining a healthy weight can add to the stress on our body, the spine, and our heart.

A lot of us think we handle stress well and just need a two-week vacation to get back on track. But really, two weeks off does little to change your life for the other fifty weeks during the year. The key is to learn how to handle and deal with stressors on a "day to day" basis. Sometimes, it's a spinal injury that is not corrected that adds to a stressful feeling. Sometimes, it's conflict at work or at home, that is simply not getting resolved. Are we ourselves taking time out to smell the roses?

Each day, try to do something positive for yourself, and resist the temptation to worry about the future and fret about the past. Take each day as it comes and try to have positive thoughts. These practices can help improve your outlook and perspective. There's a lot to be said for the person who wears "rose-colored glasses," or the person who can just let the water "run off of the duck's back."

Try a different attitude in approaching the stressful things in your life. Sometimes just getting things into perspective and not stressing the small stuff are important to leading a more stress-free life, and enjoying the hidden pleasures that life brings to us each and every day.