You’re generally a pro at sorting out excel data, thinking of creative campaigns and filling in reports. But when that headache hits, these daily tasks seem to become ten times more difficult and your mood and patience to deal with it goes for a toss too. Headaches are common conditions that can significantly impact your productivity and quality of work. Research in 2019 revealed that headache disorders (comprising migraine and tension-type headache) were the most prevalent neurological ailments in India, affecting 488 million people. However, they are still considered a minor ailment and require you to push through them to get the job done.
There are endless headache triggers in the workplace. From stressful commutes to the workplace to demanding workloads to screen exposure, headaches can cost employees and businesses dearly. Before understanding how you can manage headaches in office so as to not hamper your mood and productivity, let’s deep dive into what might be the cause of your headache at work.
Lack of sleep – Irregular and insufficient sleep can be a major cause for headaches. Waking up too early on workdays, staying up late to finish work or working in shifts; lack of sleep can make you unable to focus on work and also increase the frequency of headaches.
Poor nutrition – Corporate employees are often caught up in work meetings scheduled at odd hours and therefore, have to skip meals or have late meals. This can lower blood sugar levels and cause a headache. Many employees also don’t have home cooked meals and resort to fast food or street food high in sodium that can lead to headaches.
Work stress – Work pressure is one of the main triggers for a headache. While a little bit of stress is unavoidable, chronic stress at work can have a negative impact on us physically, mentally and emotionally.
Screens – From catching the latest news on your phone in the mornings to working on your laptop for close to 8 hours a day, too much screen time can be one major root cause for your headache. Long-term screen exposure leads to eye strain and thus headaches. Excess illumination of the screen
Sitting for long hours and poor posture – While sitting for long hours is detrimental to health, sitting for long hours in a poor posture is even worse. Most of us at the office suffer from something known as the “gooseneck” – something we get from jutting our heads towards the computer screen and hunching forward while working. This constant slumping increases the curve in the mid back and puts strain on the upper neck leading to pain that can crawl up to the head.
Office lighting – Overhead lighting at work can pose an unavoidable trigger for a headache. Most offices make use of LED lights that emit short wave, high energy, blue light which is known to cause eye strain and headaches.
Scents and smells – Certain fragrances too can be the reason for your headache at work. Exposure to perfumes, cleaning products, and foods is common in the office. But do these odors and aromas cause a headache? Scientists believe that strong odors can cause a person’s blood vessels to swell and dilate and, in turn, stimulate the nervous system in the brain associated with head pain. In other cases, a person may be allergic to a chemical element that irritates the senses, causing allergy-like symptoms, including watering eyes, runny noses, and headaches.
While some of these triggers cannot be escaped, it is important to know of the several ways by which headaches at work can be managed and avoided.
Take a break – Look away from your computer screen every 30 minutes – look up and refocus on something in the distance can help prevent and relieve eye strain and thus incoming headaches.
Stretch – Sitting constantly can strain your upper back and neck thus causing headaches. Avoid this by performing desk stretches like head tilts, neck tilts, spinal twists, overhead stretch and reach. You can also set a reminder on your phone every 15 to 30 minutes to take a quick stock of where your shoulders are and if they are slumping in your chair. When the timer goes off it is also a good idea to stand up so as to allow the muscles to reset. Muscles need blood flow in order for them to function properly and not tighten up. Just standing at your desk for even a minute will allow for increased blood flow and may save yourself a headache.
Monitor your posture – For starters, make sure your workstation is set up in an ergonomic fashion—in other words, ensure your body is properly aligned as you sit to work. For example, make sure you sit in a chair that supports the natural curve of your spine. Also, while sitting your feet should rest flat on the floor (or a footrest if that’s not possible). If you work using a monitor, that monitor should be at eye level and no more than arm’s length away so that you don’t have to lean forward, look down or look up to see what’s on your screen.
Eat right and at the right time – It is best to carry a balanced home-cooked meal with you packed with vegetables, proteins and healthy grains. However, if that’s not possible, try to switch to healthier options while eating out at least few times a week. You can also keep healthy snacks, for e.g., protein bars, a fruit, yoghurt, etc. at your desk to keep you full in the healthy way in case lunch hours are delayed and to keep cravings away.
Hydrate yourself – Dehydration can lead to a headache so it is imperative to have a bottle of water by your side at all times and take frequent sips. Also, try to replace caffeinated drinks with healthier options like green tea, water or fresh juices.
Beat stress – Workplace stress can be unavoidable but it can be managed by way of meditation, relaxing breathing techniques and exercising.
Apart from these tips, you can also keep a natural topical headache relief product by your side at all times. One such unique product for all kinds of headaches is Zandu Roll-On. This ayurvedic solution is quick and provides long-lasting results. Its non-greasy and non-sticky formula helps combat headaches “on the go.” Zandu Roll On also has a pleasant menthol aroma that makes it easy to use anytime, anywhere, without the mild aroma that could be unpleasant for some.
While such tips are advised for headache prevention and management at work, it is crucial to avoid self-medication and see your doctor if your headache persists.