Holidays Without Headaches

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Does last-minute shopping in a hot, crowded mall make your head hurt? Read how to prevent holiday headaches.

As enjoyable as holiday planning may be, does it ever give you a headache? Between the shopping, the wrapping, the cooking, and the decorating, does holiday stress make your head throb?

According to a survey by the National Headache Foundation, over half of those polled admitted that they have an increase or worsening of their headache symptoms during the holiday season. Three very common triggers of headaches are stress, changes in sleep patterns, and exposure to smoke and perfume. These triggers are widespread during the holidays.

These tips may help you avoid holiday stress and a bad headache:

Plan ahead. If you are making travel arrangements, give yourself extra time to check your baggage, get through security, and find your gate. If you’re driving, allow extra time for traffic.

Avoid marathon mall shopping. If going in and out of one crowded store after another gives you headaches, don’t do it. Shop online or plan several short shopping trips instead of squeezing everything into one long day at the mall. Make a list of gifts you need to buy, and don’t wait until the last minute to buy them.

Remember to eat. You may get so caught up in your holiday shopping that you start skipping meals. Keep a healthy snack in your glove compartment or handbag.

Get some fresh air. Many holiday celebrations are held indoors in close quarters. Request that people not smoke in your home. Secondhand smoke is not good for anyone and is also a common headache trigger for many. The smell of perfume and cologne may also trigger headaches.

Drink only in moderation. If you choose to drink, try blending alcohol with fruit juice instead of drinking it straight. Alternate alcoholic beverages with water or soda. Don’t drink red wine, which is a trigger for many. Try not to drink alcohol in the hours right before you go to bed. Limit yourself to one alcoholic beverage if you are a female and two if you are a male. And never drink and drive.

Don’t stray from your normal sleep schedule. Staying up later than usual and sleeping in the next day may cause headaches. Try your best to stick to your normal routine.

Pamper yourself. Give yourself some time alone to relax. Don’t feel like you have to make an appearance at every holiday party you’re invited to. Do as much socializing as you’re comfortable with, and spend the rest of your time with your loved ones or alone reading a good book.

Remember the true meaning of the holidays. Don’t put pressure on yourself to be the perfect decorator, party host, or gift giver. Let yourself enjoy preparing for the season instead of stressing over it. Stay within your budget and remember that your holiday is about spending time with your loved ones – not about putting yourself in debt.

Talk to your doctor. If you’re getting more headaches than you did before – or if they’re more intense – make an appointment to see your doctor.

Often times headaches are caused by muscle tension and posture issues which can be addressed with physical therapy. Click here to book a free consultation.

Remember that it’s the holiday season, a time to relax and unwind with family and friends. So take care of yourself, avoid stress, and take the time to make new holiday memories with your loved ones.


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