An estimated 90 percent of tension headaches are caused by stress, and it plays a significant part in bringing about most other kinds of headaches, as well. The solution, it would seem, is simple: cut back on stress, and you’ll automatically cut back on your headache frequency and severity. How do you cut back on stress? By anticipating stressful situations and cutting them off at the pass. By prioritizing. By giving yourself a break. By stopping to smell the roses. Try these on for size:
Slow the pace of your life a little bit, and stop rushing everywhere. Most of us are in a hurry because we fear we’re going to miss something. Ironically, when we’re in a rush, we miss practically everything. Give yourself more time to enjoy the things you do by scaling back the number of things you take on in the first place. Then take it easy, and enjoy.
Prioritize. Figure out what’s really important, and do that first. As for the rest of it—well, if you get to it, fine.
Spend time with people you really enjoy. Get rid of friends who don’t make you feel good. Life is too short. Instead, find people who are truly caring and supportive.
Remember that you’re not Superman or Wonder Woman. Stop trying to do everything. Instead, set manageable goals, break them up into smaller steps that you can tackle one at a time, and congratulate yourself as you make progress.
When you make a mistake—and everybody does—go easy on yourself. Laugh about what happened, if you can. Then, take a break and try again. And while you’re at it, go easy on others, too. They’re no more perfect than you are.
Learn how to say no. Remember, all areas of your life suffer when you’re overwhelmed, so don’t take on more responsibilities than you can handle with ease.
Ask for help when you need it. Hire help, if need be.
Focus on the good things in life. You may not be as rich as Bill Gates, but do you have a loving family? A nice home? Some fun friends? A great hobby? Revel in your blessings. •
Exercise often. It’s the world’s best stress reliever.
Make sure you get as much sleep as your body needs. Fatigue invites the stress response.
Laugh often and much, especially during the bad times. Laughter automatically lowers the stress quotient.
And while you’re at it, why not try shouting and dancing for joy once in a while? You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to get caught up in the sheer silliness of it—and just as surprised to find that your stressors have melted away as if by magic.