11 Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Stop Migraines From Taking Over Your Life


Work is work, and paying your dues in order to get to the top is grueling enough as it is. If you're stuck getting headaches every day, you're more apt to make mistakes and do the bare minimum in order to get things done. Both of these things decrease the quality of your work, and make you look like a less professional employee than you truly are.

Once you're labeled as someone who “always has a headache” or “is never at work,” that stigma sticks with you. It dramatically affects your career trajectory. Lost work productivity related to pain, inclusive of headaches and migraines, costs US employers around $300 billion annually. As an employee, the financial and advancement costs are staggering as well.

For an entrepreneur, the effects of headaches can be damning. There is no one else to call in but you. One headache at one wrong time can sink a ship before it gets out to sea.

You can't knock out a presentation if you feel like you've taken a legendary Rocky Balboa swing to the head. Get on top of your headaches now and get back in the ring, champ.

If you want that raise to look at you the way Drake looks at Rihanna, you've got to rise to the occasion a la Britney Spears style and work, bitch. This means conquering your headaches ASAP.

In addition to the various current medical treatments that are available, there are many different nutrition and lifestyle tweaks you can make to significantly decrease the duration, frequency and intensity of pain and headaches:

1. Fluids

The simplest approach to combatting headaches is to drink more fluids: namely water. Dehydration may not be the sole culprit behind your headaches, but it's often what initiates a headache sequence.

At the onset of a headache, remain calm and drink a 12 ounces of water. This may stop your headache in its tracks and prevent your workflow from getting derailed.

As a preventative measure, drink 10 to 12 cups (8 fluid ounces) of fluid daily, and opt for water whenever possible. Having two cups of water first thing in the morning, prior to any other fluids or foods (yes, even coffee) can flush your system of toxins, support regularity and improve cognitive function. As a bonus, you'll hit 20 percent of your fluid intake goal before you even really begin your day.

All fluids count for fluid consumption, but water is the best. Avoid drinks that are full of sugar, food additives and empty calories. Drink fluids throughout the day instead of all at once, and find a way to make this a daily habit.

2. Magnesium-Rich Foods

Millions of Americans are deficient in this nutrient. But it's involved in over 300 functions in the human body. So, the consequences are staggering. One of magnesium's functions is to essentially act as the on-off switch for neural pain signals. Therefore, it's a major nutrient when it comes to pain, headaches and migraines.

There's a catch, though: Supplementing with magnesium is generally not recommended. As it's an electrolyte, a sudden influx of magnesium will upset fluid balance and result in horrible gastric upheaval.

There are magnesium supplements out there, and they're often in forms that are easier to digest. They have higher bioavailability.

But, they tend to be pricey. Surprisingly enough, your health care provider may be the best place to get a reasonably-priced, quality magnesium supplement.

The key is to make the consumption of magnesium-rich foods a habit for life. Magnesium is readily available in “baby plants,” which is anything you can plant in the ground: seeds, nuts or beans. Pumpkin seeds are loaded with magnesium, packing 50 percent of the amount the average person needs in a day in a single ¼ cup serving.

Pain sufferers need more magnesium than the average person does. It takes about 90 days to amend mineral deficiencies because you're essentially asking your body to absorb a rock.

Think of amending nutrient deficiencies like getting out of debt. While you're climbing your way out of debt, your money and efforts are going three ways: paying off the debt, spending on day-to-day costs and packing money in savings. While you're correcting the deficiency, your body puts some of the nutrient toward long overdue functions. It also utilizes the nutrient for current metabolic tasks and packs some away in nutrient stores.

All of this simply means you should eat magnesium rich-foods several times a day. In addition to seeds, nuts and beans, magnesium is also found in dark green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach and chard.

Think creatively about seeds. Cucumbers, zucchini, raspberries and strawberries all have edible seeds.

3. Vitamin D

To absorb and utilize all that magnesium, you need vitamin D. Vitamin D is involved in over 200 functions in the human body, and the majority of these functions also require magnesium.

Living in northern locations, stress, many medications, clothing, working indoors, sunscreen and excess weight all have negative impacts on your vitamin D status. You don't have to quit your job and run away to a nudist colony to have great vitamin D status (unless you want to). Supplements are available.

If you're dealing with pain, poor mood or lousy sleep, vitamin D may be your hero. Grab a supplement and reach out to your health care provider to have your levels tested as soon as possible. This nutrient can completely change your work performance and quality of life.

4. Consistent Food Intake

If you don't eat for three days, you'll have a headache come out from seemingly nowhere on day four. Hardly eat anything all day until afternoon hunger drives you to mad-binge will also cause headaches.

You have to eat consistently throughout the day in order to balance your water and nutrition levels.

5. Protein

If you're not eating enough protein, you're more likely fill up on carbohydrates. Refined carbohydrates fuel the flames of pain, and protein deficiency leaves you without the building blocks needed to repair the pain damage.

Fortunately, protein is readily found in the primary foods that have magnesium: seeds, nuts and beans. Seeds and nuts make perfect snack drawer items for your work desk.

Opt for natural sources of protein, as opposed to protein powder, shakes and bars. Make sure every meal and snack you eat has protein.

6. Common Dietary Instigators

Check labels for monosodium glutamate (MSG), high fructose corn syrup, artificial food dyes, high sodium content, refined carbohydrates (sugar, white bread, etc.) and high saturated fat content. All of these set off and continue to feed pain.

As a general rule, choosing a diet free of nasty food additives is great for both overall health and preventing headaches. Asking your body to perform at its best when it has chemicals grinding on its organs is unrealistic.

7. Stretching

Tight, tense muscles in the neck and shoulders set off headaches. Working at computers for hours, as well as the majority of activities we engage in throughout the day, tighten these muscles. Over time, deep knots form and chronic headaches set in.

Add stretching into your day to counteract this. Remind yourself to keep your shoulders down. Setting a reminder in your schedule or on your phone may be necessary at first, but it will soon become a habit.

Stretch at the onset of any headaches or pain, as well as throughout the day. Make this part of your daily routine. Those knots took time to form, and they're going to take time to work out.

Taking up yoga can significantly help you stretch your muscles as well.

8. Deep Breathing

In its simplest form, deep breathing should be your first go-to when it comes to an oncoming headache. When you feel the pain begin to creep in, return to your breath. Take a deep breath in and slowly let it out. Repeat.

This can avert a headache. Practicing deep breathing as part of your routine can reduce headaches overall, as well as help with stress regulation.

9. Stress Management

Get your sh*t together. Stress has horrible, staggering consequences on both your health and quality of life. Nothing ignites a headache quite like stress.

You can't completely avoid stress in our day-t0-day life. However, you can choose how you react, the amount you engage in stress and honestly, even the things that stress you out. If you're sweating the small stuff, you're opting for more stress in your life.

Counseling can provide many tools you can use to manage your stress better, as well as provide prospective. Self-improvement books will help as well.

But make sure to look up and stretch your neck and shoulders from time to time. The timeless book, "Don't Sweat The Small Stuff," is a great place to start.

10. Walking

Daily walks are great for headache prevention. Get oxygen pumping to the tissues that need it most.

Walking around the office can do in a pinch. But if you can get out into the great outdoors, the benefits of nature exponentially bolster the perks of walking.

11. Sleep

Regular, consistent sleep can completely change your game. Sleep deprivation is a major headache trigger. Less sleep means less time to repair from headaches, which leaves your nerves already frayed the next time a headache trigger hits you.

If you struggle with sleep, reach out to a professional for help. It's the most important part of your day.

This article was originally featured on

Sheila Amir is owner and writer of, where she encourages people to live the happy, healthy, well-nourished life of their dreams. Click here to get health, nutrition and food info delivered to you, along with a bit of wit and random Stallone references.