It is not uncommon for office workers to complain about the symptoms of migraines in the office; however, in many cases these ‘migraines’ are in fact intense headaches which, while still uncomfortable, are not as severe as migraines and fortunately can be easily prevented. If you find that you are getting headaches while at work, here are a few steps that you can take to avoid them.
Be mindful of stress and anxiety
Prioritise taking steps to reduce your stress or anxiety levels as this will lessen your headaches- be it through relaxation exercises, psychological therapy, a walk in the park. A great way to feel calm when you need a quick solution is to take deep breaths from your diaphragm – set aside 10 minutes to inhale and exhale slowly and deeply, and your body should soon relax.
Manage the glare
It’s no secret that squinting causes headaches but what few people realise is that it is actually the glare from their computer screens can make them squint. We recommend wearing glasses with glare resistant lenses, and to give your eyes regular breaks from the computer screen by looking away and focusing on an item in the distance for a minute or two.
Cut down noise
Noise is a common migraine trigger, so if you’re prone to migraines and can’t avoid noise at work, wear ear plugs or find a quiet breakaway spot to work in. If necessary, speak to your manager about reducing noise levels in the office.
Get more sleep
No surprises here – too little sleep causes headaches as well as making you more grumpy. Ensure you have a consistent sleep pattern as it is vital for keeping migraines at bay. Where possible, try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends (sorry). In addition, while it may sound obvious, be careful with your consumption of caffeine, nicotine and alcohol and don’t over-indulge before bedtime – this could have a negative impact on your sleep and possibly lead to headaches.
If you spend your entire day sitting down and don’t get any, exercise you will get headaches. Although getting up and going for a jog while your head is pounding probably doesn’t seem the most appealing thing it the world getting outside in the fresh air can help loosen tight muscles which cause migraines. Make moving a priority – be that going for a morning run, walking part of your commute to work, pushing back your chair to do desk-er-cises or even volunteering to do the office tea run! Exercising will not only transform your life, but considerably reduce your migraines too.
Correct your posture
Believe it or not, bad posture can actually be the cause of your headaches, so make a point of sitting up right, squaring your shoulders and straightening out whenever possible. Find a way to remind yourself to ‘straighten out’, such as setting an alarm or making a mental note to sit up straight whenever you drink your water (more on that later!).
Eat regularly and check your diet
No matter how busy you are, you should always find time for a proper breakfast and lunch. Fluctuations in blood sugar can sometimes cause migraines so always have breakfast and aim to eat at regular intervals. Sugar and processed carbohydrates cause huge fluctuations in blood sugar so be careful of them.
Cheese, chocolate, caffeine and alcohol are known to trigger migraines in some people so if you’re a regular sufferer, cut these foods and beverages out one at a time for 2-4 week periods and assess if that makes a difference. If you can’t function without your daily Caramel Frap it might be worth making the switch to decaf or limit your coffee intake to one cup.
Drink plenty of water
Not drinking enough water will very often give you a headache and can lead to migraines. The first thing you should always do when you feel a headache coming on is to have a big glass of water. Make a point of keeping a water bottle on your desk and drinking from it regularly.
So in summary you should: relax, give their eyes a break, wear ear plugs to block out noisy colleagues, get some sleep, get moving, SIT UP STRAIGHT, eat some breakfast and drink plenty of water!
For those people who struggle severely with migraine, you can book a walk-in GP appointment, or a video consultation.
Dr Daniel Fenton is a Clinical Director at the Private GP Clinic, London Doctors Clinic