Learn how to relax at any given moment to avoid it
Most people fail to identify the root of their migraines and even though most of the time a migraine episode is promoted by a poor diet, a great amount of times the root cause is stress.
Migraines are not always caused by indigestion of course, but taking into consideration the stress levels of most people during their lunch times (because of work) it’s no surprise that most people start to feel the headaches about an hour after having their meal. It’s medically proven that stress is directly associated with headaches by affecting your digestion; and as a person who suffers from chronicle migraines, I have noticed countless times that symptoms start appearing as soon as I finish eating.
Generally the bunch of unfinished tasks you know you have to get back to right after you finish lunch are stressing you so much, that you can’t even notice that you are about to have a migraine episode, the problem is that by the time you do realize it’s already too late.
I’m a victim of daily stress and despite of how much I hate to admit it, it seems that I am not very good handling it. Like me there are millions of persons who haven’t even noticed that stress is provoking their headaches and as long as they go by without noticing this, they will never be able to avoid their migraine episodes.
So how do you identify dangerously high levels of stress?
At the beginning you’ll probably have to place a bumper stick in front of your desktop so you can see it every time and remember to pause for a second and check yourself. What you should be looking for are signs of stress such as:
- Raised heartbeat.
- Tense or cramped muscles in the back of your neck.
- The feeling of tension in your stomach.
- Feeling of exasperation (notice if you are leaning into your computer screen and if you are moving your leg like crazy) due to the bunch of pending tasks you have.
- Pressure in your eyes and blurry vision.
- What people call headache premonitions.
Most likely if you are experiencing any or all of the above symptoms is because you have several simultaneous tasks going on while you work and even if you are working in just one task, you probably have all of them stacked up in your head.
Dealing with stress and avoiding headaches
There are a few wise tips you can use to stop the stress and avoid a migraine episode such as changing your work habits and learning some relaxation methods to use right as soon as you notice any of the symptoms.
The first thing you have to do is to learn how to prioritize and postpone your tasks, so if you are working with something and suddenly you get assigned a new “urgent” task, and another one 30 minutes later, you will have to stop for a second and write down a queue list of your pending tasks ordered by urgency (write them down so you don’t keep them in your head).
If you fail to do that you will find yourself working on the last task, with the first one half done opened in front of you, while the person who assigned you the second task shows up every 10 min to check if you have started working on his request. This will automatically generate a stressful situation in your head and make no mistake, you will get a migraine.
So learn how to face your bosses and tell them that you have a few tasks in queue and that you will need X amount of time to finish the first task, XY to finish the second one and if you must, you will have to let them know when you won’t be able to finish something because you don’t have the time due to all the load of work you just received. You could surprise yourself by how people will admire you just for facing your bosses and having the nerve of (politely) telling them when something can’t be done as they wished; most of the time they will listen to you and they will assign the new task to someone else, optimizing the work in the office and recognizing that thanks to your notice the job was completed in time.
So after you stacked up your duties queue and closed everything that is not related to the specific task you are working on, you need to do some stress relieving techniques that will get you in the right mood for work.
A breathing Technique
Rest your back comfortably in your chair, close your eyes and relax as you perform several deep slow breaths. As you do it try not to think of anything and forget about your work while filling your lungs with a lot of air. Try the following pattern:
Fill up your lungs in 4 seconds, hold your breath for 6 seconds and then release the air in 8 seconds, you can breathe normally once every 2 cycles. As you do this focus on how the air enters in and out of your body.
A Visualization Technique
As you perform these breathings, try to do an imaginary travel to a peaceful place you would like to be in, imagine the feeling of a warm breeze in your face, the cold water of the sea all over your head and body or a great view of a paradisiac beach. You should not underestimate the power of these visualizations, they will help you lower your heart rate and lower your stress levels almost immediately. Do this for a couple of minutes till you feel better.
Listening to the Right Music
Another great tool to lower your stress levels is music, but not just any music. There are specific types of music that will help you relax beyond your imagination. I like to hear a chill out type of music such as café del Mar during stressful times. There are also other great tracks designed and recorded specifically to stimulate our brain and help us relax as much as possible, you can learn a little more about that here.
Enjoying the Power of Laughter
The power of laughter has been proved to be a very effective treatment for reducing many negative symptoms such as stress, depression, anxiety and other physical illness. Basically what happens is that when we laugh, our body starts releasing endorphins, which are hormones that relieves stress and set us in a great mood (besides being natural painkillers). So go online and look up for a random short video from any of your favorite comedians to get a few good laughs; trust me… This is a big one.
So whenever I feel too stressed at work, I get up to walk around for a minute, go to the restroom and wipe my face and neck with cool water; then I get back to my workstation to do some or all of the four relaxing techniques I just talked about, forcing myself to adopt a relaxing posture at all times and not moving my leg as I do whenever I am stressed. I repeat this once every hour or every two hours if I feel stressed to make sure I won’t be victim of the migraine.
I’ve been using these techniques for the last few years now and I have gotten great results with them, so I encourage you to try them out as soon as you start feeling stressed (the sooner you notice the stress levels raising the better it will be), so you can reduce the pill consumption while enjoying your working hours a little more.