Workplace headaches are difficult to avoid considering we live in the 21st century. A headache, technically a pain located anywhere in the head or neck, will impact the vast majority of the population at some point in our lives, and in any given year, almost 90% of men and 95% of women have at least one. However, most headaches are not dangerous and can be treated with medication and/or lifestyle changes.
The best way to reduce headaches is to limit screen use (a ubiquitous risk). Screen use includes cell phones, television, computers, etc. Make sure to get an anti-glare screen for your computer. This will help limit the amount of light to which you are exposed. You can also limit light use by turning off fluorescent lights and/or replacing that light with the softer glow of a lamp, which may be better for limiting headaches. If necessary, you can take over-the-counter pain medication while making sure to stay hydrated. Dehydration is a common contributor to headache pain.
It can help to take a few minutes away from any work stress to reduce the stimuli. Take some time to go outside and sit in the sun; it will provide natural light and renewed energy. Also, aromatherapy (the use of aromatic plant extracts and essential oils) can help reduce headaches, so it may help to keep positive scents in your office. Lavender, rosemary, sandalwood, peppermint and eucalyptus are some of the scents recommended to counter the effects of headaches and stress. Conversely, harsh perfume smells or cleaning products should be avoided.
Exercise regularly, at least 30 minutes a day if possible. This releases endorphins (the ‘feel good’ brain chemicals) and helps to improve your mood and relieve stress. Try to get enough rest. This can vary person to person, but the general recommendation is for eight hours of sleep daily. Without enough sleep, you are more likely to have regular headaches.
About 95% of headaches are caused by such common conditions as stress, fatigue, lack of sleep, hunger, changes in estrogen level for women, weather changes, or caffeine withdrawal. Overall diet is also a contributor. Make sure to maintain a healthy diet, and avoid junk and fast foods. Try to stay away from alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco.
Your doctor may recommend logging a headache diary. This will help identify the type of headaches you are experiencing and in return will assist your doctor in the appropriate treatment of your headaches. The diary should have information on the location of the pain, how long it lasts, its strength, your diet, any medication use, the weather, and any symptoms that may be relevant to your headache.
Many people live with headaches, but experts such as Steven Horowitz, MD can help you to live a pain-free life.