Most nurses spend the majority of their shifts on their feet. By the end of the shift, your muscles can feel stiff and you can also suffer from tension headaches. They are called ‘tension’ headaches for a reason! Stress relief and relaxation can be an easy cure. Here are a few quick tips to help relieve your discomfort:
Loosen up your muscles
Heating or cooling can really help with tension headaches, but you must be careful which one you choose. Sore neck muscles usually prefer heat, but in the case of headaches, heat can sometimes make the headache worse. Trust your instincts: what will work in the case of a headache is whatever feels soothing to you. It may vary from one time to the next. Sometimes alternating back and forth feels great. Don’t forget to include your neck, face and jaw muscles.
Deep and slow breathing is a great way to relax muscles and put you in a better state of mind. Try this simple breathing technique and exhale away any discomfort:
Imagine a point just below your belly button. Breathe into that spot, filling your stomach with air. Let the air fill you from the stomach up, then let it out like deflating a balloon. With every long, slow breath you breathe out, you should feel more relaxed.
Slowing down your breathing will also help you relax. Do this by taking long, slow breaths. Count slowly to five as you breathe in and then count slowly to five as you breathe out. Your body will naturally relax as your breathing slows.
Sneak in a neck stretch
The chin tuck is a great way to stretch your neck muscles:
- Sit comfortably in a chair with your feet flat on the floor.
- Draw your shoulder blades together and keep your head facing forward.
- Gently move your head back, making sure to keep it level; you don’t want your chin to lift up or dip down.
- Hold this stretch for five seconds and repeat five to 10 times.
Treat yourself to a massage
If other methods aren’t working for your headache, a good head, shoulders and back massage can alleviate tense muscles around the skull and therefore tension headaches. Massages also improve your posture and reduce the frequency of headaches.
Need an excuse for a bit of pampering? This is definitely the best option!
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