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Your Healthy Family: Managing pandemic stress headaches

Posted at 11:53 AM, Feb 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-19 13:53:14-05

CLEVELAND, OHIO — The pandemic has been a headache – literally, for some of us.

Emad Estemalik, MD, a headache specialist with Cleveland Clinic, said the daily stress we’re feeling over COVID-19 can cause our heads to pound.

“Whether it’s the stress from employment issues, financial or childcare. A lot of people have found themselves, as they’re also consumed with news and blogs and reading and social media about the pandemic, they have found themselves exhibiting more headaches,” he said.

Stress is a common trigger for migraine and tension headaches.

Dr. Estemalik said the constant barrage of conflicting information about COVID-19 can increase stress levels.

So, how can we reduce stress, and our risk for headaches?

He recommends unplugging and limiting exposure to coronavirus news to about 20 minutes each day.

He also advises a walk outdoors, meditation or yoga to relieve stress.

Poor sleep quality can lead to headaches too, so it’s best to turn off electronics in the evening to help calm your mind.

“Don’t consume too much news or be on your phone up to two hours before you sleep because you really want to give your brain a little rest before you go to sleep, so you have a better sleep quality,” Dr. Estemalik advises.

He adds that exercise is another good way to relieve stress, and therefore ward off tension-related headaches.