Around 15% of population is suffering from headaches at any time According to research that was published in The Journal of Headache and Pain. Neurologists believe that the percentage of people who suffer from headaches has increased because of stress and lifestyle modifications as a result of working from home more frequently.
“A majority of patients moved from walking between offices and making that long commute and now being in their homes,” says Dr. Britany Klenofsky who is an assistant professor of neurology in Mount Sinai’s Center for Headache and Pain Medicine at Mount Sinai. “The absence of separation between working and at home have affected individuals in a variety of ways.”
Experts recommend the following suggestions to minimize the risk of getting headaches during working hours.
Keep your eyes on your neck
A phone or computer for long periods of time is a regular occurrence in the WFH world that developed from sitting in chairs and putting Laptops and computers upon laps. As the head becomes tilted downwards to the side, it causes tension that causes pain in the neck and jaw muscles. It can also send signals the brain that it is experiencing discomfort, according to experts.
“If you are able to reduce the stress on the neck’s top and reduce the strain on your neck, you will lower chances of suffering from headaches,” says Helen Tufui who is the creator of The Headache Clinic in New Zealand.
Sit straight and straight
Tufui also suggests monitoring your posture. The goal is to have an even spine with a slight arch in your lower back. A towel placed behind the back could also aid in helping people sit straight and you can also invest in a comfortable desk chair or laptop stand.
It can be uncomfortable to change your posture initially however, Tufui compares it to exercise It’s normal for back muscles to hurt initially but this is an indication that they’re trying to help you stay straight and will grow stronger in the coming years.
Take standing breaks
Experts recommend taking breaks every now and then to get up and walk around, even in the midst of your desk. This will help ease back and neck tension as well as give your brain and eyes some time away from your computer.
“Start by standing up for a couple of hours, and then increase the habit every one hour for an entire day,” Klenofsky says. “It’ll develop into an habit.”
Keep a regular sleep schedule
Sleep plays an important role in brain health and stress which increases the risk for developing headaches.
Klenofsky suggests sleeping in and waking at the same time each day. It is also recommended to sleep in on weekends and starting your day earlier on weekdays can cause sleep disruption and lead to headaches she claims.
“It’s crucial to maintain an exact schedule of sleep,” Klenofsky says. “In the early days of the pandemic I noticed lots of patients coming in with headaches … Then we discovered that it was due to the schedule … they had stopped coming in at a reasonable hour to work.”
The importance of sleep hygiene is paramount according to Tufui. She suggests “having an effective ritual at the close of each day when you repeat the same things and ensures that, when it’s time to go to go to bed your body will know what it needs to do.”
Eat frequently and drink plenty of water
“The migraine brain becomes irritable and cranky,” Klenofsky says. If you’re struggling to make back-to back calls for lunch, doctors recommend eating small meals all day long.
Klenofsky recommends snacks that are high in protein like eggs boiled or the handful of nuts.
In addition, it’s easy to not remember to drink water during a WFH, however drinking plenty of water can aid in preventing headaches. Experts suggest six to eight glasses of water per day for the majority of adults.
Follow your headaches
Neurologists suggest tracking your symptoms of headaches that will assist you and your doctor determine which factors in your lifestyle like exercise, sleep and diet, may play a part.
“It assists us in coming to a decision on the need to focus on not only treating them at the moment instead of preventing them” Klenofsky says. “It accelerates getting relief faster and not later.”
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