So, you were working half the night, you’re running late for an important meeting and that report still isn’t finished. No wonder you have a headache.
Hectic days coupled with lack of sleep can send stress levels soaring, which can lead to tension headaches that impact on your performance at work and throw your body out of balance. To keep your workplace a headache-free zone, try the following tips.
Make a daily game plan
Creating a ‘to-do’ list can reorganise your thoughts and help you set priorities for the day ahead. Start by assessing when you are most productive – are you a morning or evening person? Plan your day so the most challenging tasks are tackled when you’re at your best.
Relieve a headache - set some boundaries
When work starts to pervade your personal life, stress levels increase and headaches can become more frequent. To maintain a healthy work-life balance, you have to set distinct boundaries. Easier said than done? Start by taking one step at a time – keep your computer switched off at home, make time for your favourite hobby or organise catch-ups with friends and family.
Talk it out
Plenty of studies have revealed that having a chat to family and friends can enhance your wellbeing. If you’ve had a tough day at work and feel overwhelmed, get some fresh perspective by calling a good friend and talking it over. It’s also important to have a support network within the workplace, so grab a coffee and share a laugh with someone who might be feeling exactly the same as you.
Move your body
If you’re sitting in front of a computer all day, chances are you are not getting enough exercise – a factor strongly associated with headaches. A 2008 Workplace Health Management study discovered that people who exercised before work were happier, more productive and suffered less stress. Even taking a short walk during your lunch break can be enough to improve your fitness and help keep those tension headaches at bay.
Don’t skip meals
We all know that nutrition is key to good health, but when you’re busy it can be hard to find time to eat at all. The reality is that missing a meal reduces the level of sugar in your blood, which can sometimes trigger or exacerbate a headache. Get each day off to a good start by enjoying a healthy breakfast – it’s been found to reduce stress and improve work performance.
Also keep in mind that stressed people are more likely to opt for high-calorie foods, which can lead to inflammation in the body. Try increasing your intake of pain-fighting foods, such as salmon, oranges and ginger.
Sleep away stress, and watch headaches disappear
Feeling tired is a common trigger for tension headaches. Getting more sleep – even if it’s a nap – can reduce your risk of headache and decrease pain sensitivity. That’s because sleep relaxes the muscles in your head and neck, the underlying cause of headaches.
Have trouble getting to sleep in the first place? Then try changing your routine. Going to bed at a regular time each night and avoiding caffeine in the evening can help. You could also try a new pillow or changing your sleeping position, which may decrease tension in your neck and shoulders.
Check your posture
Back pain is not the only result of poor posture – simply setting your desk and chair up properly can also reduce the risk of headache by keeping your muscles relaxed. Using an ergonomic chair helps your spine to hold its natural curve, which can relieve muscle tension in your neck, shoulders and back.
You can further reduce muscle strain by adjusting your computer monitor so it’s at eye level or slightly lower. Bright lights can also be a potent headache trigger, so try using an anti-glare screen on your computer monitor, and be sure to take regular screen breaks to give your eyes a rest.