According to the World Health Organization, headaches are one of the most common nervous system disorders that exist today. With almost half of the population (47 percent) reporting that they’ve had at least one headache within the last year, I would suspect that small business owners make up more than their fair share of that percentage, due largely to the added stress and tension that comes with owning and operating your own company.
For me personally, my struggle with frequent and sometimes debilitating headaches started approximately two years into becoming my own boss. Sure, I had occasional headaches before that, but after constantly worrying about how to grow my business and make a good living on my own, headaches became an almost everyday thing. Sometimes I found relief, but most of the time I just worked through them, thoroughly convinced that it was part of “doing business.”
Fortunately, I have learned that headaches and small business ownership don’t have to go hand-in-hand. In fact, here are seven effective tactics that I have used to help become—and remain—virtually headache free for over a year now:
Reduce Your Stress
I have listed this as number one because, at least for me, stress was the major culprit behind my regular and recurring head pain. The more tension I felt, the more my neck and shoulders would tighten, and the more likely it was that I would experience a headache. Apparently I am not alone in this as some research studies have found that 80 percent of migraine sufferers cite stress as a major contributor to their increased head pain. This makes relieving that stress a necessity to also relieving the headaches.
Everyone is different when it comes to finding ways to lower the tension they feel, so you need to find and do what works best for you. For some people, this involves spending quiet time alone reading or listening to soothing music. For others, it may mean doing something adventurous or experiencing new things.
Watch Your Posture
Some headaches can be brought about by poor posture. When you spend a lot of time in a position that doesn’t support the natural curvature of your spine, it tends to create spinal misalignments in the cervical (neck) area, potentially leading to what is called cervicogenic headaches.
Therefore, make it a point to stand, sit, and walk with your head up, shoulders back and down, and your pelvis slightly forward, as this may help reduce your headaches. Your posture while sleeping is important too, so get a pillow and mattress that adequately support your spine while you are lost in peaceful dreams.
Get Moving (A Little)
According to The Migraine Trust, “Exercise is often noted as a trigger for migraine but research suggests that moderate aerobic exercise can have a therapeutic effect.” Even if your head pain isn’t exactly a migraine, you can still benefit from mild exercise as it helps reduce stress (see #1) and it also gets your body to release feel-good hormones which aid in the natural reduction of pain.
Low impact cardiovascular exercise to consider include walking, bicycling, or water exercises. Each one offers different benefits, so you may want to create an exercise routine that incorporates all three.
It is easy to get caught up in trying to do everything just right with your small business, especially if you are a perfectionist like me. However, sometimes you have to let go of the reigns a little bit and just have faith that things will work out. Sure, you have to put forth lots of hard work and effort, but worrying about the outcome nonstop isn’t going to do anything for you, other than contribute to your headache pain.
See a Chiropractor
I never used to believe in the benefits of chiropractic, but now that I’ve experienced them firsthand, I can’t imagine life without it. My desk-bound life as a writer had made nine different areas in my neck practically unmovable, thus causing a lot of my headache issues. However, after roughly 2-3 months of regular visits, my headaches started to subside. And since chiropractic is a natural healthcare remedy based on getting your body to help heal itself, it is an option that you may want to consider.
Reduce Your Caffeine Intake
If you drink more coffee than you do water, then this habit may be partially to blame for your regular and frequent head pain. Instead, aim to limit your morning java to just a couple of cups, then switch over to water. You may notice that once your body is properly hydrated and you’re not overloaded on stimulants, your headaches will be fewer and further in between.
Pay Attention to Your Diet
Food and food substances can trigger headaches too, which makes paying attention to your diet important if you have head pain often. Some of the most common culprits, according to WebMD include MSG, nitrates and nitrites, cheese, and alcohol.
To figure out if your diet is contributing to your headaches, it may help to keep a journal. Write down everything you eat and drink and note when your headaches occur. This can help you pinpoint any dietary triggers that exist so you know what to avoid in order to get, and remain, head pain free.
These seven things have worked for me and I now rarely get a headache. I hope they work for you too.
I’d love to hear what you do to help relieve your head pain, so please share your ideas in the comments below!