I am one of those people with an extremely imperfect head that gets headaches on an annoyingly regular basis. I work hard, I spend a lot of time doing complex tasks and complex thought processes, but the biggest trigger for me is probably physical rather than mental.
Why tension headaches are so common
The opportunity to tense up is everywhere these days. Not only can you put strain on your eyes (and cause a headache that way) by sitting hunched over a computer, tablet, or smartphone for hours at a time, even just having bad sleep habits can create tension in your body that can cause a headache.
Stress, whether it’s work-related, family-related, or otherwise, can also cause you to tense up, whether you realize it or not. We put so much stress on our bodies today without even realizing it until we get sick. I know that sounds all new-agey and what-not, but it’s true.
I know some of you don’t want to hear it, but exercise is a great way to prevent and relieve tension, and in turn, tension headaches. Personally, I hate exercise. I always have. Anything arbitrary that makes me out of breath like running or jumping jacks makes me cringe.
Luckily, I discovered yoga a few years ago. It’s one of the only types of exercise I can not only stand, but I actually enjoy. It makes me feel better, physically and mentally. I don’t really how tense and stressed I am until I start noticing other “side effects” like headaches, back pain and just a general lack of energy.
Because yoga practice often includes exercise for muscles throughout your body, whereas some sports and exercises tend to focus more on one part like legs or arms, it’s a good way to release tension throughout your body. Many yoga sessions will also include a brief meditation and the final relaxation or cool-down, which helps your body and your mind settle down.
Is this for real?
I’m not saying yoga is a proven cure or a preventative for headaches. I don’t have any scientific studies to reference or even any case studies beyond my own experience. I’m just saying that, especially for tension headaches, yoga is a much safer and healthier alternative to try instead of reaching for the Advil or Tylenol every time your head starts to hurt.
Photo by: Flickr user DebbieC