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Breathing exercises and visualisation techniques can help reduce headache and migraine pain - image courtesy of APS

Many of the headaches and migraines that interrupt your daily activities may be induced by stress. We commonly see that people who have chronic-stress develop considerable tension in the neck, shoulders and back, which can be one of the main triggers for headaches and migraines. Using simple breathing exercises can be incredibly effective in treating your symptoms.

Goal-setting, visualisation, positive self-talk and breathing exercises are just some of the ways that you can decrease stress and help to ease the muscle tension that can cause your headaches. Out of these techniques, breathing exercise is the easiest and most effective at quickly reducing your stress levels.

Here are a few breathing exercises that you can try at home

The technique most recommended to follow is very simple:

  1. Breath in for 4 seconds (inhale), followed by breathing out or 4 seconds (exhale).
  2. Repeat this for at least one minute.

This technique has been shown to be effective on its own, but you may want to combine it with your own meditation techniques to further help reduce the severity of your headaches or migraines.

We also recommend different types of visualisation to help with both stress and the symptoms of headache and migraine. Give these a go:

  1. ‘Take me out to sea’ – Visualise yourself, packing your pain into wooden boxes. Then try to imagine a boat taking them out to sea. Visualise your pain with every wave or rock of the boat.
  2. ‘Breathing Visualisation’– Take your mind off your pain, by drawing your attention to your breath, focus on the air being drawn into your lungs, and how it flows out of your body.
  3. ‘Watch your thoughts’– Shut your eyes and let your mind focus on the parts of your body that are pain-free. Allow your normal thoughts to flow through your mind


How do breathing and visualisation help headaches and migraines?

Stress encourages inflammation in the body, which is the natural response to injury and infection. This inflammation can be one of the causes for your migraines. Breathing control and other relaxation techniques have been shown to be effective in reducing stress responses in the body, subsequently leading to a decrease in inflammation and helping the body to relax.

Visualisation techniques are incredibly effective in altering your perception of pain, which not only provides a temporary reduction in the intensity of pain, but can change the frequency and duration of your episodes.

Everybody will respond differently to each technique, and it is likely that a combination of techniques will be the most effective. A combination of breathing exercise, visualisation, and personal meditation routines has been shown to have a positive effect on stress levels, which can be linked to headaches and migraines.

If you or someone you know is suffering from headaches or migraines, call us today on 1800 HEADACHE (1800 43 23 22) to book your appointment with one of our experienced headache clinicians.

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