You had a long night finishing up a proposal for a breakfast meeting. Come morning, you didn’t hear the alarm, the hot water ran out, you missed your carpool, and you’re running late for the breakfast meeting you prepared for last night.
A really bad morning such as this one triggers a fight-or-flight response in your body. Adrenalin, a stress chemical, floods your body as you find a way to make it to the office in time. Your emotional tolerance to stressors is visibly reduced as you hastily flag down a cab, yell at the driver, and settle in the back seat to catch your breath. Then you realize that you left your briefcase with the proposal at your front door.
Given this kind of morning, it’ll come as no surprise if you’ll be plagued with a throbbing, painful headache throughout the day.
Tension headaches, or stress headaches, often plague one-third of the adult population. Characterized by pain in both sides of the head, with tightness in the back of the neck and forehead, this type of headache is often caused by stress and muscle tension. Take for example the scenario above: though your body is coping with stress by flooding it with adrenalin, there is little you can do to conquer the problem except turn back time. The fight-or-flight response might be very effective, but in this case, the stimulants are insignificant daily irritants you have no control over. As a result of stressing excessively about the problem, you’ll only get a very bad headache.
To make it worse, if you continually stress over the small things, you could develop chronic tension headaches, which means that the buildup of stress becomes too much for you and you’re unable to cope, resulting to having painful headaches every day. This is a vicious cycle where you’ll feel stressed, find a short-term solution, get a headache, and feel stressed all over again.
If you’re suffering from chronic headaches, maybe it’s time to deal with the source: in this case, learn to minimize or manage your stress.
[Photo Credit: joshjanssen on Flickr]