Showering to Help Soothe a Headache
Wash away those tension headaches and migraines
Photo courtesy of Schmidt’s
By Shelby Deering
writer for The Natural
I’ve always been a headache-prone person. In childhood and still to this day, I almost always get a headache before it rains because of the change in barometric pressure. In fact, my head is so predictable that friends and family now refer to me as “the human barometer.”
And let me tell you — those headaches are doozies, and they often morph into migraines. Then there are the times when I’ve had too much caffeine or I’ve been staring at a computer screen for too long. As someone who is super-sensitive to headaches, I’ve developed a toolbox of tricks over the years that work for me, one of which is taking a shower at the first sign of a headache.
As it turns out, I’ve been on the right track all these years. According to Migraine.com, showers and baths are both considered to be forms of heat therapy for migraines. They say that among other heat-related remedies, a warm shower has the power to stop pain signals from traveling to the brain and increase blood flow, which can help soothe muscles. Also, a shower just feels great when you’re feeling lousy.
Here are five ways to bust a headache in the shower:
Choose your shower temperature
A hot shower might sound good if you’re in pain, and oftentimes, it’s just the ticket. The hot water can relax away achiness in your head and in the rest of your body, so be sure the water hits you from your head to your toes. But, if you have a migraine accompanied by nausea, a hot shower might not be the best idea. Before you know it, you could be feeling dizzy and queasy.
In that case, a cool shower might be what you need. It’ll refresh you and help decrease that feeling of nausea. If you have tense muscles, try to warm up the temperature slightly so you don’t stiffen up your muscles even more.
Photo courtesy of Schmidt’s
Scent your shower
There are lots of scents that can loosen the grip of an intense headache, and many of them can be incorporated into your shower. One study sings the praises of eucalyptus and peppermint as allies in the battle against headaches, while another study adds that lavender is an ideal aroma to turn to when you have a headache.
Before I get into the shower, I’ll often put a few drops of eucalyptus, peppermint, or lavender oil onto the shower floor. The steam will allow the scent to permeate throughout my shower for a minute or two, and it really helps.
Or, you can use a body wash or bar soap that carries stimulating aromas for a long-lasting effect in your shower. And remember, if the idea of any sort of scent is making you feel sick to your stomach (you gotta love that about migraines), you can always opt for a fragrance-free bar soap.
Relax in the steam
The combination of warm steam and water can work wonders for many types of headaches, but it will perhaps benefit sinus headaches the most. Heat up the water, close the bathroom door, and allow the steam to fully fill your shower.
Use a warm compress
A warm compress on the back of the neck can be an amazing headache-reliever, and it’s something that can be done easily in the shower. Warm it up with the water, stand in the stream, and hold it on the back of your neck for a few minutes. Add drops of eucalyptus or lavender essential oil to make it an aromatherapeutic experience.
When a headache hurts from the top of your head to the tips of your fingers, sometimes the best thing you can do is simply breathe deeply. The steam will feel good as you breathe it in and out, and you can treat it as a mini meditation as well. In fact, when I have a bad headache, I’ll turn on my waterproof shower speaker to play soft music or a guided meditation to make it a truly relaxing experience. Headaches are never fun, but at least you can think of it as an opportunity to practice some quality self-care.
When you’re finished with your shower, put on some lotion, pull a sleep mask over your eyes, and wrap yourself up in your bed. A shower and a nap always do the trick for me, even during my very worst headaches.
Articles from The Natural should not be considered medical advice. If you have any questions about your health, please consult a medical professional.