Stress induced migraines and headaches can disrupt daily activities and work. Chronic stress, along with tension in the neck, shoulders and back is one of the most common headache triggers. Simple breathing techniques can help to provide much needed release.
Breathing techniques you should follow
Stress can be reduced by a number of methods including goal setting, visualisation, positive self talk and slow, deep breathing. These methods can all be encompassed into daily life, in order to minimise high stress levels and thus, triggering migraines.
Out of these four methods, slow deep breathing is the most successful in reducing stress and has the best outcomes for helping with migraines and headaches.
The technique most recommended to follow is very simple: 4 seconds of inhalation, followed by 4 seconds of exhalation, repeated for a minimum of 1 minute. Whilst this breathing technique alone has proven to be helpful, additional meditation is known to also be successful in relieving tension and pain from headaches.
Another technique to help with stress and migraine pain is visualisation. There are three common forms of visualisation used for pain relief:
- Take me out to sea – simply imagine packing up your pain into wooden boxes and visualise a boat taking them out to sea; with the pain reducing with each wave.
- Visualised breathing – take the pain away from the forefront of your mind by solely focusing on the air coming in and out of your body, step by step.
- Watch your thoughts – close your eyes and focus on other parts of your body which are pain free, and allow your thoughts to float through your mind.
How it works
Stress creates inflammation, the body’s response to injuries or infection, which in turn contributes to the migraine symptoms. Controlled breathing and relaxation techniques are known to reduce stress responses, leading to a subsequent decrease in inflammation and overall relaxation effect on the body. This can be effective in also helping to relieve any contributing muscle tension from the neck and shoulders.
Visualisation helps to shift the way patient’s perceive pain in order to help control not only the severity but frequency of onset, and duration of episodes.
A combination of the above techniques, as well as a sustained meditation routine has been proven to be quite effective in significantly reducing the occurrence of stress-related episodes in headache and migraine sufferers.
If you are or know someone who is suffering from migraines or headaches, contact us today at 1800 HEADACHE in order to book an appointment with an experienced physiotherapist today. Let us help you get on top of your pain now!