This is not an easy topic for me to be writing about since it feels very personal and because it is a very complex problem. I’ve been planning on posting this for at least three months, but was a little intimidated by its complexity.
This morning I woke up with my head exploding: Big time headache. Besides the headache being totally on my nerves, it also reminded me about what I learned. Because even though I have pain I can sit here right now and write this to you. So I thought it was time to share my tips against a headache with you. I am not a doctor, nor an expert in this. I am simply sharing my experience and what helped me, in which maybe some of you will find a tip or two.
A little bit about my headache-story: Two years ago I started to have headaches more frequently. On a daily basis, I had this feeling as if my head wasn’t really there, unclear and covered with a light glimmer – puh its not easy to describe. I didn’t have pain, yet a constant subtle feeling of not being able to focus 100%. On top of that I got a painful headache at least every two weeks that stayed for more than one day. You have to know that I dislike painkillers a lot, I rarely take them and if I do I wait until the last minute. But with this headache attacks I took painkillers, but they weren’t working. So I started to try different ones: Form normal Ibupofen, I went to paracetamol, over to paracetamol with caffeine as a side ingredient. None of them were working. I went to the doctor and got to know that my iron value was too low. Immediately after taking iron supplements the constant pain went away. But the really painful headaches stayed. So I went to the doctor again and also to the neurologist. I didn’t find THE solution there, but knowing that everything got checked out and was okay helped me a lot. What I really learned from my doctors visit is the lesson to have a balanced life. So I made some changes: I started to run more frequently, I started to eat better (as in better & healthier for me and my body, which doesn’t necessarily mean better for your body too), I wrote down my thoughts in a journal, I started to take Vitamin B Komplex supplements (more on that later)… All in all one could say I started to focus on myself and with that I to get to know myself a lot better, which already brings me to the first tip:
1. Get to know yourself: This is one of the most important tips I can give. If you want to help your body you need to know what is wrong. So watch yourself, write it all down – as we know writing helps to realize what is going on. For your headache start a headache-diary in which you write down when you had one, how strong it was, what you did against it. Step by step you can incorporate different things with it – food, exercise, work. My mom pushed me to do this for a long time and I am so glad she did. At first I didn’t think it was necessary, but it actually helped me figure out the type of my headache, his characteristics. I managed to free myself from the constant pain and if it comes back, I know I need to relax and take it easier. Also, I can understand the signals my body sents when a headache-attack is approaching: It starts softly in the afternoon and I know now that it will stay the whole next day and won’t go away with painkillers. But knowing that I can start to do my following tips.
2. Drink water: Not a new tip and nothing that only helps with headaches. But again, knowing yourself, you will understand if the headache only comes from not drinking enough water.
3. Do sports: For me, running is the best I can do – actually I need to take my own advice here and start to run again too. Also, bicycling to the university rather than taking the tram is helping a lot. Whatever exercise you like to do, stick with it on a weekly basis, so you can balance out the stress from the working life.
4. Enough sleep: As with drinking water this doesn’t just fix your headache, but also helps your whole lifestyle – aka not tired, able to focus better and so on.
5. Get your blood values checked: As you can read in my little story, figuring out my iron values were too low was very important in my story. And it was such an easy step to do, I only had to do it, which brings me to my next advice.
6. Go see the doctor: “It’s just a headache, I mean everyone has them, I don’t want to be a chicken, it’s not so bad” -NO, it’s not just a headache. I know that a lot of people won’t take you too serious with your headache problem – I know that because I’ve been through that too. Don’t listen to them, listen to your body. If you feel that this headache is having an impact on your life, it is time to actively change that! And therefor you need to go see the doctor, the expert in it! Again, see in my story what I learned about it.
7. Be active about it: With that, I mean talk to your friends, family or colleagues, I am 100% positive that you are not the only one suffering from a headache every once in a while and maybe they will have a tip too. Also, as soon as you actively approach it you will suddenly start seeing tips and ideas around you. That is how I came to my next two tips.
8. Vitamin B Complex supplements: This tip came from my favorite blogger Vicky. When she talked about her headache and how these supplements helped her, I had to try it immediately. I am not sure how much of an influence they actually have, but I FEEL as if they do. So from time to time, when it seems that my head is getting worse again, I buy them at the pharmacy and after one or two weeks taking them my head starts to clear up again.
9. Japanese Peppermint Oil: This tip came from a friend and a colleague at work, who are both suffering from headaches too. Japanese Healing Oil (like THIS) is a very strong minty oil that can be applied with your fingers on your forehead, in your neck and on your temples. Make sure to wash your hands well afterwards, you don’t want to get some in your eyes. It immediately starts to cool your skin and to me it eases my headache. When I have an attack and I have time, I will apply some and go take a nap – very healing!
10. Scream it out: This tip came from my doctor and is too funny not to share. Once I went in his office and we talked again about the painkillers not working he gave me the following advice: You know Ronja, sometimes all you need to do is get into the woods and scream it all out.
In the end all we want is to be able to smile again and enjoy life. I think it is all about getting to know yourself and the pain you have. I accepted that around every three weeks I have a headache attack and that I am sensitive to the weather. But I learned what I can do to make it better for me and I managed to free myself from this constant pain. To me painkillers are not the solution and I am lucky enough that I am still studying and in the worst case can take the day, or maybe just half of it, off to go home, drink too much water, apply some peppermint oil, drink an espresso and go take a nap.
Are any of you also suffering from headaches? What is your advice? What has helped you?
As always I would love to hear your story so we can all learn from each other.