1) Drink some water. Many headaches occur because you are dehydrated, this is very common if you eat lots of processed or salty food (takeaways are especially bad) or drink too much alcohol. As soon as you feel a headache coming on, drink a large glass of water – it doesn’t need to be mineral, straight from the tap is absolutely fine!
2) Get more sleep. We often get headaches because we are tired. This may not manifest itself until around mid-afternoon, but a daytime headache is often a sure sign that you are not getting enough sleep.
3) Go outside and have a walk. Any walk will do as fresh air even in a city has been proven to reduce headaches. As a preventative measure, using some of your lunch break to walk to the shops – or even around the block – will mean you don’t feel that 4pm headache coming on.
4) Get a colleague or a member of your family to give your shoulders and neck a massage. If your headache comes from tension or stress, then a massage can really help. It doesn’t need to be for long – just five minutes of gentle kneading of your shoulders and neck muscles can help a lot.
5) Deep breathing can also prevent headaches. Breathe in deeply, filling your stomach with air and then let it out. With every long, slow breath you breathe out, you should feel more relaxed. Count slowly to five as you breathe in and then count slowly to five as you breathe out. It is surprising how effective this is – sometimes you can literally feel a potential headache melting away.
6) Listen to some music. Classical music is often best, the regular rhythms seem to calm the brain and it’s definitely better to choose something without lyrics! Mozart, Vivaldi or Bach are all good choices.
7) Take regular exercise. Researchers have found evidence that moderate exercise can reduce the quantity and severity of headaches, which may be because exercise releases endorphins, which are natural substances that help you feel better. Anything you enjoy whether it’s running, swimming, salsa, cycling or a gym class should work.
8) Try to be less angry. When you’re angry, all the muscles in the back of your neck and scalp tense up, causing a tight band-like feeling around your head. This is a sign of a tension headache. When you start feeling cross or stressed, breathe deeply and count up to twenty before doing anything.
9) Change your posture. It’s hard in an office situation, but do try and avoid sitting or standing in exactly the same position for a long period of time. Sit up straight and try to ensure you are in a chair that gives your back good support. Consider using a special headset if you spend a lot of time on the phone, as holding a handset between your head and shoulder can strain your muscles and cause headaches.
10) Change the lighting. Bright lights, especially there is a bit of a flicker, can induce migraines. At work, adjust your computer monitor or attach a glare screen. You may be able to turn off some of the lights or at least change where you sit in the office. Fluorescent lighting does tend to flicker, so if you possibly can, get it changed to another form of lighting or try and sit near a window to get more natural daylight.