Can Mindfulness Relieve Your Headaches?

Almost four percent of the world’s population suffers from headaches. While they vary in their symptoms, headaches can be an annoying and painful problem. There are many ways to help control headaches, such as with medications, but they often come with their own concerning side effects. Because of these side effects, it can be beneficial to consider using natural remedies for headaches and a holistic healing method like mindfulness. This article will explore how mindfulness works and how it can relieve your headaches.

A young woman struggling with a headacheWhat Causes Headaches?

Headaches occur when there is a change of chemical activity in your brain. This activity can irritate the nerves and blood vessels near the nerve resulting in headaches. This issue forms for a variety of reasons. Some include:

  • Stress
  • Lack of sleep
  • Poor posture
  • Eating processed food
  • Dehydration

In addition to these possible reasons, headaches could also be a sign of an underlying problem, like high blood pressure, anxiety, or acute sinusitis.

Types of Headaches

Headaches come in many different forms. They can range from a basic headache that lasts for a few hours to migraines that can linger for a week. Besides these, some other types of headaches are:

  • Cluster
  • Sinus
  • Post-traumatic
  • Hormone
  • Thunderclap

Headache Symptoms

Headaches don’t just cause throbbing pain throughout your head. They can also result in many other surprising side effects.

  • Mood swings
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle aches
  • Light sensitivity
  • Insomnia

A woman sitting in meditationWhat Is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a form of meditation that requires you to focus on your current surroundings and feelings for relaxation. By using techniques like deep breathing, journaling, and focused imagery, mindfulness is thought to help calm the body because it keeps you in the moment. This shift can reduce stress and ease pain.

Deep Dive: “What Is Mindfulness? And Why All of the Hubbub?”

Can Mindfulness Treat Headaches?

While mindfulness can’t fully heal headaches, it can significantly reduce their side effects and the number of times they occur. This relief is because mindfulness teaches you how to deal more effectively with stress and pain. Studies have also shown that mindfulness could help increase gray matter in the brain. This area is the portion of the brain that controls sensory perception and muscle control. Those who suffer from headaches tend to have less gray matter, which can significantly affect their memory and decision-making skills. Mindfulness works to strengthen the brain by increasing gray matter.

Related reading: "Dramatic Impact of Mindfulness on Migraine"

How to Use Mindfulness to Relieve Your Headaches

There are many ways you can incorporate mindfulness into your life to relieve headaches. Below are a few to assist you to relieve stress.

Deep Breathing

To begin, find a quiet space to sit. A tranquil location is important because sound and visual distractions can make it harder for you to practice mindfulness. Once you find a good spot, close your eyes. Put your hands on the top of your thighs and focus your mind on your breathing. You can count your breaths or focus on your chest rising and falling as you breathe. By doing so, the focus on your breath will assist your body to calm down.

The more often you practice deep breathing, the more you’ll train your body to stay relaxed even in loud and tense situations. This way, you can start doing deep breathing techniques anywhere.

A married couple facing each other deep breathingMusic Therapy

For some headache sufferers, music can be very irritating. However, for a few, it could also be beneficial. It’s thought that specific vibrations react positively with the brain, which can calm it. By doing so, your brain will stop sending out pain signals, which can decrease your headache symptoms.

Most headache sufferers will usually find relief with meditative music or classical selections. However, there are some instances where louder music, like dubstep or electronic dance music, could be useful. It’s thought that the vibrations in the music stimulate brain waves to naturally soothe this organ. This pulsation can stop headaches and even help you fall asleep easier.

Keep in mind, it might take some time to find the right music for your needs. Try investigating different genres until you find something that works perfectly for you.
Black woman listening to music to relieve stress

Muscle Relaxation

Another way to use mindfulness for headache relief is by doing muscle relaxation. This option helps you learn how to control and calm tingling or painful areas.

To do muscle relaxation, sit in a quiet place, and close your eyes. As you do so, focus on a muscle group, such as the ones in your neck or shoulders. Do they feel tense? Where are areas of pain? Wherever you feel discomfort, use your mind to unknot the tension and release the pain. Work your way through your body until you’ve scanned and relaxed your entire body, from head to toes.

While this type of mindfulness will take some time to get used to, it can be a very simple and beneficial way to naturally heal headaches. You could also visit a chiropractor for headaches who can help to release tension from your muscles with the help of various adjustments.

Related reading: "Stress Relief and Work-Life Balance through Mindfulness."

Walking Therapy

You can also try walking for headaches. To do this exercise, find a quiet space with plenty of room to walk around. Start walking in the room while focusing on your path and movements. You can turn and form imaginary shapes on the floor when walking to help train your brain. You’ll want to do this movement for at least five minutes in the beginning and slowly work up to a longer session.

If you’re unable to find a roomy space to walk, consider venturing outdoors to a park. You can walk down pathways and focus your mind on your surroundings.

A stack of journals

Journaling

Journaling might be something to consider in treating your headaches. By writing or drawing your current feelings or symptoms, you can help to release tension or pain. Writing will enable you to better communicate with yourself and identify how you feel. If you’re not sure where to start, begin by writing or drawing your emotions. Another activity is writing a list of things you’re grateful for or feel stressed about. By doing so, you’ll feel a release of tension that can help soothe your headaches and teach you how to manage stress and pain better.

Related reading: “Why Is Mindfulness Important? And Simple Practices”

Headaches can be a nuisance, but mindfulness can help fight against them. By practicing mindfulness, you’ll find that it will calm erratic brain activity while strengthening this vital organ.

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3004979/

https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/headache-disorders

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11810342/

You can reach the author at: https://betterhealthalaska.com/chiropractor-juneau/  

For coaching support or to learn more about everyday mindfulness to transform your life and relieve stress, contact us at Heartmanity! Transforming lives is our business!

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Guest Blogger: Dr. Brent WellsGuest Blogger: Dr. Brent Wells
Dr. Brent Wells, D.C. founded Better Health Chiropractic Juneau and has been a chiropractor for over twenty years. He is currently leading 10,000 Alaskans to more active and pain-free lifestyles with a progressive and highly innovative approach to chiropractic care, massage therapy, and physical rehab therapy.

Posted in Brain Fitness, Mindfulness and Perspective, Habits for Health

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