7 Lifestyle Tips to Help Prevent Migraines and Headaches

How Changing How You Live Can Impact Your Migraines and Headaches

Your lifestyle has a lot to do with preventing the frequency and intensity of migraines and headaches—whether it's cluster headaches, a tension headache, or a migraine.

Here are 7 things you can do to prevent—or at least reduce the frequency of—migraines and/or headaches.

  1. Avoid certain foods. You probably already know what they are: Alcohol, chocolate, aged cheeses, and other foods can trigger a tension headache or migraine. But if you know certain foods are a problem for you, limit how often you eat them. Find out more about what else can trigger migraines and headaches in our migraine and headache causes [link to Migraine and Headache Causes article, when created] article.
  2. Don't smoke. Smoking not only hurts your lungs, but it can also increase your head pain and other symptoms.
  3. Eat regular, balanced meals. Basing your diet primarily on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats (and limiting foods that trigger an attack) is a good way to prevent migraines and/or headaches. Also, don't skip meals. Skipping meals makes you hungry, which can trigger a migraine.
  4. Establish a sleep schedule. Sleep helps keep your immune system strong, wards off depression and anxiety, and promotes deep relaxation. But stick to a regular sleep schedule: That means going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. Poor sleeping habits, a lack of sleep, or too much sleep can actually trigger a migraine or tension headache.
  5. Exercise often. Exercising can help reduce symptoms of migraines and headaches. Incorporate aerobic, strengthening, and flexibility exercises into your routine. Learn more about exercising with migraines and/or headaches in our exercise tips for migraines and headaches article.
  6. Practice good posture. Poor posture (eg, hunching over a computer all day) can strain your head, neck, and shoulder muscles, leading to a migraine or headache. Check in with yourself throughout the day and notice your posture. Are your shoulders hunched? Is your spine straight? By making some adjustments to your posture, it may help reduce the frequency of migraines and tension headaches.
  7. Reduce your stress. Because many migraines and headaches are triggered by stress, knowing how to handle stress—as well as how to prevent it—can significantly reduce the frequency and severity of your migraines and headaches.

    But sometimes it's not enough to read a book or take a bath—you have to consciously reduce your stress levels. For example, you may need to do deep breathing and meditation exercises to effectively manage your stress.

Living a healthy lifestyle is certainly one of the most effective ways to try to keep migraines and headaches at bay. By avoiding things you know that may set off a migraine or headache and incorporating healthy habits, you can actually help to reduce the amount of migraines or headaches you experience.

Updated on: 11/19/15
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