Between the shopping, the cooking and the decorating, does holiday stress make your head throb? These tips may help you avoid holiday headaches:
- Stick to your routine. During the holidays, your regular schedule is turned topsy-turvy. This can take a toll on your body. Do your best to keep your sleep schedule consistent, exercise as you normally would (or more) and eat at your regular mealtimes.
- Evaluate what you eat. Foods often found at holiday parties, such as ripened cheese, chocolate and processed meats can trigger headaches. Some sensitive individuals should avoid food items containing MSG or low-calorie beverages with aspartame. Be careful with your caffeine intake and avoid or limit colas, coffee and tea.
- Avoid or limit alcohol. Drinking on an empty stomach, mixing cocktails or having too much can cause headaches. If you opt for a festive cocktail, sip your drink slowly. Mixed drinks containing fruit or vegetable choices may have less negative effects than straight alcohol. For migraine sufferers, red wine is a well-known culprit. Choose a glass of white wine instead.
- Avoid last-minute shopping. Crowded stores and long lines are enough to give anyone a tension headache. Use catalog or online shopping opportunities as a stress-free option.
- Use caution with winter colds. Stress, meals on the run and lack of sleep give your immune system a beating. Then, colds and congested sinuses can trigger a whopper sinus headache. Relieve pain with aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen. If your sinuses are blocked, try an over-the-counter decongestant. When making the holiday party rounds, stay away from cigarette and cigar smoke, which can further irritate sinus membranes. Avoid perfume counters when shopping, too.
- Remember to relax. Holiday stress can leave you feeling exhausted and anxious. Take time to relax. If you can afford it, get a massage or spa treatment. Less expensive ways to treat yourself include doing yoga or taking a walk in nature.
If you experience more frequent or severe headaches, see your doctor.