Whole Heart

Head-to-Toe Solutions for Stress

relaxation-pose
Credit: Karen Pearson

Headaches

Researchers once blamed tension headaches on tight muscles in the face and neck. But now they think that stress-induced fluctuations in neurotransmitters—like serotonin and endorphins—also activate pain pathways in the brain, leading to headaches. In either case, ouch!

Just 10 minutes a day of mindful relaxation—like deep breathing or meditation—can ease the muscle tension that can trigger a headache, says Lisa Corbin, MD, medical director of the Integrative Medicine Program at the University of Colorado Hospital. Try this: Sit in a quiet place, and close your eyes. Take a deep breath through your nose, and let it fill your abdomen; hold it for 5 seconds, then exhale. Studies have shown that simple, deep-breathing exercises like this reduce blood pressure and promote a sense of well-being.

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