As if seasonal flu and cold bugs weren’t enough, for many Canadians the cold weather signals an increase in headaches, too.
Why Winter Headaches?
Extreme temperatures may be to blame. If you always feel worse before a storm or temperature drop, there’s a reason. Changes in weather shift the atmospheric pressure, and we experience this change in pressure physically.
But weather is just one reason. Darkness is a factor, too. When our skin is deprived of sunlight, production of vitamin D drops, potentially triggering migraines. Lack of sunlight also inhibits serotonin. When this feel-good hormone dips we can experience depression and anxiety, both of which are risk factors for headaches.
Sinus headaches can be caused by infection and irritation, either from the congestion of a common cold or simply the dry, indoor air.
Add to these factors a good dose of seasonal stress: holiday bills, the prospect of coping with darkness and cold for months. We feel this stress physically. Our neck and shoulder muscles tighten, often triggering tension headaches.
What You Can Do
Whatever the cause, you don’t need to take winter headaches lying down. Try these tips:
1. Shed some light on the problem: As often as possible get outside. Expose your face to the sun, especially in the morning. The intensity of morning sun kicks-off serotonin production. When indoors, find a sunny perch. Even indirect natural sunlight appears to lower stress and pain.
2. Tap into natural pain-relief: Your body has built-in mechanisms for reducing pain, but you need to give it the raw ingredients. Magnesium, for one, plays a major role in regulating pain. Most people don’t get enough in their diets. This essential mineral helps to produce vitamin D and serotonin, relaxes muscles and blood vessels, preventing tension and increasing oxygen flow to the brain. Magnesium also reduces the inflammation that causes sinus headaches. If you decide to supplement, look for a highly-absorbable form like the magnesium citrate found in Natural Calm.
3. Create a little tropical oasis: A trip south may not be in the cards, but you can recreate at least some of the atmosphere with an inexpensive humidifier. Breathing moist air can ward off sinus infections.
4. Boost your immunity: Prevent congestion by building your resilience. A healthy diet is essential, and so is sleep. Even when you’re feeling well, make rest a priority as a preventative measure. If you don’t sleep well, again, you may be low in magnesium.