Self-Care Tips For When You Have a Headache

DISCLAIMER: We are not your primary care providers! If you have frequently recurrent headaches, a headache that only occurs on one side of your head, a headache you would describe as the worst you’ve ever felt, or a headache with nausea, changes in vision, chest pain, or dizziness, contact your provider immediately to make sure you receive the care your body needs!  

Headaches can be the worst thing after a long day at school, or if you’ve been busy all day. They make us feel irritated, tired, and often desperate for relief. It’s important to always take care of yourself by eating well and resting well, but sometimes we experience a lot of stress or activity and our bodies do not know what to do about these things! Although headaches are neither fun nor expected, they are often a sign that our bodies are functioning normally because they are telling us to change something so we can function well! In some cases, they can actually be a warning sign of a more serious issue, so please note the disclaimer above about frequency, quality, and other symptoms you might have. Otherwise, here are some of the things you can do, other than taking Tylenol, to try and calm a headache. If these tips don’t help, then this is also a reason to call your provider so you can stay healthy!

Drink Water

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Very few of us actually drink as much water as we need in a day! Our bodies need about 2 liters of water every day. This is about eight 8 ounce glasses of water or liquid. Coffee and tea are diuretics meaning they deplete our water storages, so if you drink a lot of these two drinks, you might need more water in your daily routine! Our bodies respond to dehydration and low water storages by giving us a headache because it is having to use more energy to make our body function without its required water! Try watering your body with a 2-3 glasses of water and see if your headache goes away.

Eat a protein-based snack.

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Our bodies make energy out of a substance called glucose. Glucose is in the food we eat, and it helps us to keep moving and our energy up. If the amount of glucose in our blood gets too low, we can get a headache. You can eat anything to help increase this level and increase your energy, but the best thing to eat is a high protein snack. This helps your body receive energy gradually rather than if you ate a high sugar snack that would give you a huge crash with another headache later. It’s important to make sure you are getting enough calories and vitamins and minerals in your diet every day. Choose My Plate may seem a little cheesy, but it’s actually a GREAT way to see what you should be eating every day!

For headaches, try eating an apple and peanut butter, almonds and some chocolate, a cup of greek yogurt, or a hard-boiled egg.


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This one is simple. If we’re tired, we get headaches. Are you getting enough sleep? Teenagers are recommended to get 8-10 hours a night according to the Center for Disease Control. (  See how much sleep you need here, and try to get it each night! We are all busy, but your body will definitely thank you for that much-needed shut-eye.

Listen to music with headphones in. 


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If we get overwhelmed by activities going on around us, the increased stress can make our bodies respond with a headache. Close out the world by putting headphones in and then listen. Take deep breaths. In and out. Some of my favorite things to listen to are pop music piano covers on YouTube. I know the words to each song so I can get lost in singing the songs to myself.

Drink hot tea


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Sometimes our headaches can be associated with allergies or even caffeine deprivation. If our headaches are associated with allergies, the things causing us to have a reaction are causing inflammation, or tiny amounts of swelling, in our airways. It also makes us have to blow our nose more or makes us a cough. To help with this, we have to find a way to open up our airways so that we can breathe well and clear out our sinuses. Sometimes we can have a headache without any congestion or a cough! So don’t knock drinking hot tea or hot water when you have a headache even if you don’t have any other symptoms of allergies. The heat will help decrease our inflammation.

If your headache is associated with caffeine deprivation, the caffeine in the tea will help to alleviate some of this caffeine-associated headache! You’re welcome to try coffee too, but if you’re trying to wean off of the coffee, tea is a good option because it has less caffeine!

Trying these methods could help reduce your headache! These are all things we can do on a daily basis to stay healthy as well which is why you want to try them first when a headache occurs. Like we said earlier, make sure to know the warning signs of something more serious and go to your provider right away. If you are worried about it being something serious and you can’t get a hold of your provider, go to the closest hospital. It’s okay to do that and take care of yourself!

What other things do you do when you have a headache or don’t feel well? Comment below.

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Rachael Elizabeth

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