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Your Lockdown Headaches, Explained
Lockdown. The word itself is enough to cause a headache. So to find out a few of the reasons we’ve been getting so many regular headaches over the last year, we spoke to Chiro Dr Aimee Brown for her best tips.
“Let’s talk about masks. When wearing one you may not be getting fresh oxygen each time you breathe. Whether this is an actual or a perceived lack of oxygen doesn’t matter as both can lead to headaches and lethargy.”
“You may also be holding your head and neck differently. Do you jut your chin and face forward more so that you can be heard better? This can all lead to neck pain, neck and shoulder tension and then headaches. It is also common to drink less water when wearing a mask, which can lead to dehydration headaches.”
Working from home
“Desk and office setups at home are often not ideal. Laptops and screens propped up on books, whilst sitting at the kitchen table for hours of zoom meetings. Combine this with sitting on a dining room chair that is the wrong height for your table and suddenly your posture isn’t great. Shoulders tend to roll forward, along with your head, instead of it being over your shoulders and we look down a lot. This creates a lot of tension and dysfunction in your neck and shoulders, which can create headaches. Take a moment to check if your chair and desk is a good height, your screen at eye level and feet flat on the floor. Resetting into a good posture throughout the day by rolling your shoulders back and down and checking your ears are in line with your shoulders is also recommended.”
“Lockdown often results in decreased exercise and movement. We miss a lot of incidental exercise such as walking to the other end of the office, or to the train each day. The longer you sit, the more likely that your posture will become worse. Get up and move your body during the day to help decrease the tension held in your muscles. Stretch, walk a few laps of the house, do some lunges or squats in the lounge to move your body every 20-30 minutes.”
“Exercise is used as a stress reliever. Lockdown can cause an increase in stress levels, which combined with the lack of exercise as an outlet for release, can cause headaches or make them worse. The solution? Get out and move in whatever way you can. Get outside and go for a run, or a walk to clear your head. Do some yoga or stretching at home. If you have a backyard, do some body weight exercises in the fresh air. Move in whatever way you can, for both your mind and body. Even 10 minutes can make a big difference.”
“Increased stress can cause poor sleep, which may lead to headaches. Again, stress is an issue. Simple ways to help your body deal with stress include doing some slow deep breathing for 5-10 minutes a day, moving your body and taking the time to talk to someone about how you feel. Also, have a good sleep routine. Decreasing the impact that stress has on your body, and improving your sleep is the aim!”
“Routine is often non-existent. Diet may change and access to usual fresh produce may be limited. Coffee and chocolate intake can increase, and water intake may decrease. This combination can often trigger headaches. Remember to increase your water intake to at least 2L, keep your coffee intake low, and get as much fresh food into your diet as you can.”
“Remember that it’s about doing the best you can, in the situation, to manage any headaches. They are often caused by a combination of all these things, not just one of them. Always reach out to your health care provider (virtually if needed!) for advice tailored to you.”
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