From the category archives:

headache

How to Fight Anxiety Headaches

by Ed

Anxiety can cause some unusual symptoms. Most people think anxiety is only nausea, tension, and the occasional rapid heartbeat. But anxiety can cause some very strange, very unique symptoms that leave many people unprepared. It’s not uncommon for generalized anxiety and panic attacks to cause health worries, because the symptoms of anxiety often mimic those of very real and very serious ilnnesses.

One of the best examples of this is the anxiety headache. Most people think of headaches as a sign of a cold, flu, or migraine – and certainly, it’s always a good idea to get checked out by a doctor when you have a headache you’re worried about – but anxiety is also a very common cause of headaches in those with moderate to severe anxiety.

Why Does Anxiety Cause Headaches?

Anxiety is essentially intense stress, and stress causes tension headaches. Researchers are still unclear why stress leads to tension headaches, but it likely has to do with the muscles in and around your eyes and head tensing as a result of your stress and anxiety. It may also be somewhat related to the way that stress alters your body chemistry.

Regardless of the cause, when you have anxiety headaches, you need to do your best to treat them in order to continue on your day. Most headaches – even those from tension – don’t simply disappear right away. Headaches have a tendency to linger and fade over time. But the following should decrease the severity of your headaches and hopefully relieve some of the symptoms:

  • Taking a Warm Shower – Warm showers are an effective way to relieve some muscle tension. Showers relax muscles, and the steam may also benefit your sinuses and other areas of your body that can contribute to headaches. If a warm shower isn’t possible, a warm towel may help – especially if the tension is closer to your eyes.
  • Head Massage – Rubbing your temples with your eyes closed can be very beneficial. Push in as hard as you can comfortably and rub your temples in a circular motion for several minutes. This may relieve some of the head pressure you’re experiencing.
  • Drink Water – In some cases, dehydration can contribute to the severity of your tension headache. Drinking a glass of cool water may help to relieve that tension, even if it doesn’t deal with the stress directly. Some people find drinking a large glass of water to be fairly calming as well.
  • Get a Massage – If you have someone in your life that is willing to massage your head, neck, and shoulders, take advantage of it. Someone else’s hands can be more relaxing than your own hands when it comes to rubbing your temples, and in some cases a good backrub around the neck and shoulders can be a great way to help cure anxiety.
  • Find a Mental Distraction – Headaches can make it hard to focus on the tasks you need to complete. You find yourself thinking too much about your headaches and the pain they cause. Positive, upbeat mental distractions – like a humorous podcast or a comedy television show – may help. They focus your mind on something other than your pain, and that decreases the anxiety you experience as a result of your pain.

The key to reducing anxiety headaches is to fight your anxiety, and that involves long term anxiety reduction strategies, like therapy or some type of intervention. Until then, it’s not a bad idea to use the above tips to relieve some of the severity of your headache, so that you have an easier time going about your life until you successfully cure your anxiety.

About the Author: Ryan Rivera had severe, regular tension headaches when he suffered from anxiety. He has a website about living with anxiety at www.calmclinic.com.

Why A River Won’t Get A Migraine

by Ed

Delaware River

Image credit: Nicholas_T

According to the 5 element system in Chinese Medicine, Migraines are a result of a disruption in the Wood element. The Wood element is responsible for smooth flow and for maintaining all of the cycles in nature. In humans, the Wood element’s flow management system is disrupted by a lack of exercise, poor diet, and, on an emotional level, by anger, frustration, and suppression of feelings.

Learn to flow like a river and your Wood element will be happy. But going with the flow is not necessarily what people think it is. Rivers are powerful: Sometimes they go around obstacles and sometimes they overcome them, but they always get where they are going.

Here are 5 techniques to overcome your migraine by going with the flow:

  • The first one is essential for the others. Learn to just feel. Feel sensations in your body. Feel emotions come and go. Notice how everything flows. When we try to damn up our feelings, both physical and emotional, we create stress in our bodies.

For 5 minutes, 4 or 5 times a day, close your eyes and practice just feeling what ever is happening in your body. Continually soften and let go. Let everything be. Sometimes this exercise is helpful during a migraine, but sometimes it only intensifies the pain, so be gentle in your exploration.

  • Become aware of the effects of food on your body. As you practice the above exercise you will become more aware of subtle changes in your body. Start paying attention to how you feel after eating. You will find that there are certain foods that your body does not like. Avoiding them will help reduce your migraines.

I have a few foods that my body doesn’t like, but I have found that the level of intolerance changes all the time. Generally, if my stress level is low and I haven’t eaten any offending foods for a while, I can get away with eating one without bringing on a migraine or other uncomfortable reaction. For the most offensive foods I always eat a small bite then check in with my body to see how it is reacting. If my body is not happy, I don’t eat any more.

  • Practice abdominal breathing. When the breath is restricted, everything is restricted. A good time to practice is at the beginning of the first exercise. Spend about two minutes breathing deeply. As you inhale allow your belly to rise more than your chest. I also like to practice before getting out of bed, after getting into bed, and during mindless chores like dish washing.SJ 5 acupressure point

  • Try acupressure on yourself. Search for tender points between the bones of the hand and foot. Massage or hold them for a minute or two each.

The two points in the pictures are particularly good. The first one, SJ 5, is between the two bones on the arm, about two inches from the wrist. The second one is between the last two bones of the foot, outside of the tendon that goes to the baby toe.

Also check out my acupressure First Aid post and this one on headaches. GB 41 acupressure point

  • Do the inner smile meditation. At the end of it, imagine breathing emerald green light into your liver. As you exhale imagine smoke coming out of your liver. The liver is the main organ of the wood element, and green is its color.

This meditation can do wonders for lowering your stress and improving flow in the Wood element. And that will reduce the severity and frequency of migraines. Do all of the above and you may eliminate migraines all together.

Tapping Into Health

by Ed

For thousands of years, people in the orient have been tapping acupuncture points to relieve headaches, improve their immune systems,and treat a variety of health complaints. In the past thirty years or so, several Western energy therapies have been developed, based on the acupuncture system. Many of these therapies also use tapping on the points for healing.

One of those methods, EFT, is great for dealing with post traumatic stress, allergies, phobias, and many stress related symptoms. You can learn the self-help basics of EFT here. If you are interested in EFT and find that you need more than self-help, contact me. I am happy to provide consultations, by phone or email. See my About page for my email address.

Beating Heaven’s Drum is a traditional technique for relieving headaches, dizziness, and waking up the brain. Cover your ears with your palms and tap the muscles at the base of the skull. Tap gently for about one minute.

Knocking at the Gate of Life is another traditional Chinese technique. The gate of life is the area where, according to Chinese Medicine, our basic vital energy is stored. Tapping the points associated with it helps to increase the flow of energy and gives a feeling of vitality. There are two points. The first one is about two inches below the navel and the other is on the spine, directly opposite the navel.
Stand with your feet a little wider than the width of your shoulders and place one fist just below the other and the other on your back opposite your navel. Then begin to turn your body, at the waist from side to side. As you turn, let your arms swing around. As you turn left your left hand should tap your back and your right hand should tap your belly. As you turn right your right hand should tap your back and your left hand should tap your belly. The arms should be very relaxed. Let the turning of the waist swing them around, without using any arm strength to tap your body. Do this exercise for a couple of minutes, every day.

Taping to boost the immune system. This is a modern technique, as far as I know. There are three points to tap. The first point is the last point on the Kidney channel. The Kidney channel is also associated with the Gate of Life. The point is just under the collar bone, in the depression just outside of where the collar bone meets the breast bone. The second point is on the breast bone, about two inches below the top. The thymus gland, an important immune system organ, is directly below this point. The last point is near the bottom of the rib cage. It is about level with the bottom of the little bone that sticks down from the bottom of the breast bone and about three inches from the midline. You will notice a little dip in the rib cage in that area. Tap between the ribs. These points stimulate the Spleen and the Liver, both of which influence the Immune system.

Tap each point, in order, about twelve times. The first and last points can be tapped on both sides at the same time. Breathe slowly and deeply while tapping the points. You can do this once or twice a day.

Cleansing the Digestive tract

by Ed

Every Spring is a good time for internal cleansing. I suggest starting with the digestive tract, then doing a Gall Bladder flush. While these cleanses are safe for most people, it is always advisable to seek the advice of a qualified health professional, especially if you have any significant health concerns. After doing a cleanse many people find they have more energy, clearer skin, fewer allergy symptoms, and many other positive effects. It is certainly helpful for anyone with constipation.

One simple and safe way to cleanse the digestive tract is to do a short juice fast. Three days is safe and effective. Only drink juice of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables. Drink them immediately after juicing them, as they lose their goodness, and start to oxidize very quickly. Besides drinking fresh juice, you can drink herbal teas, ginger is particularly good. Also, first thing every morning, mix one teaspoon of psyllium husk in a glass of water or juice. It does not have a pleasant flavor, so you probably want juice. Psyllium husk is known as intestinal broom because is sweeps out the old debris that lines the intestinal walls. You may want to continue the psyllium for a few days after the fast is over.

While generally regarded as safe, a small minority of individuals do not tolerate psyllium well. Those experiencing discomfort should discontinue use, or start with a very small amount to allow the body to adjust. However a feeling of bloating, especially the first time you take it, is normal.

Use of psyllium can reduce the effectiveness of prescribed lithium.

Use of psyllium can reduce the effectiveness of antibiotics.

Do not use psyllium within two hours of any medicinal substances. Use at least 30 minutes prior to eating.

Psyllium is generally safe and helpful for people with irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulosis, and colitis.

Help for Headaches

by Ed

Self treatment for headaches is often very successful. There should be no need to reach for the extra strength pain reliever. One trick that sometimes works is “chasing the pain”. Try to pinpoint the exact location of the pain in your head. As you relax and put your attention on the sensations in your head, it is often difficult to tell exactly where the focus of pain is. The more you search for it the more it goes away.

Should that fail, try acupressure. Look for tender points in the webs between the fingers and the toes. Between the thumb and first finger it’s in the meaty area just above the web. I have a picture in a previous post. When you find a tender spot hold it hard enough that it feels sore, but not too painful. As the soreness subsides hold it harder. When it is no longer sore move to another point. Carry on until the headache is gone. That should take two or three points.

While you are doing the acupressure, it is also helpful to practice, deep relaxed, abdominal breathing. However, for some people with migraines, that can be counter-productive, so if the headache is getting worse, ignore the breathing. Instead, you could imagine you are standing barefoot, on a nice warm beach. Feel the heat of the sand warming your feet.

If you try all of those techniques and it doesn’t work, let me know. Tell me exactly what your experience is, and I can fine tune the self treatment for you.