Headaches are well, a headache! There’s nothing fun about them. But in the interest of helping us all to relax a little more, I wanted to share some thoughts on what we can learn from headaches.

The most common kind of headache is what doctors call a tension headache. It’s the result of—you guessed it—tension in the body. Specifically, the muscles in the neck tighten up, causing strain which leads to a headache. This is where chiropractic can help: an adjustment can release the tension and bring the whole system back into balance.

But where does the tension in the body come from? Our bodies tend to tense up for a reason.

This is where headaches can actually be useful. It’s a warning light on the dashboard—an indicator that we’re experiencing stress on one level or another. Before we just pop an Advil and try and forgot about it, we should take a moment to check in with ourselves. 

Some of the more common root causes we can look for include noise, lack of sleep and stress. Noise is pretty self evident: if you’re around something so loud that it’s giving you a headache, move someplace quieter or put in some earplugs! Similarly, if we realize we haven't been getting enough sleep, a headache can mean it's time to give that a greater priority, and stop burning the candle at both ends.

Stress is a big area. It can range from physical to emotional to circumstantial, and all different kinds of stress can contribute to headaches. But regardless of the specific stressors we are experiencing, all of us can benefit from making time in our days for self-care, and from approaching ourselves with an attitude of kindness and love

Stress can also come up in a major way when we feel like we don’t have support and community around us. We’re social beings and often need each other to be at our best. Taking steps to strengthen our support systems—whether through friends, family or both—can be a powerful tool to help us relax and lay down our burdens.

Interestingly, there is another major cause of headaches that might not come to mind—dehydration. Those of you who follow my blog regularly know my thoughts on the importance of staying hydrated, but you might not know that when we don’t drink enough water, we can develop headaches. Often, a cool drink of water is enough to get things back on track.

Headaches are a sign that our bodies are saying “Hey, pay attention to me! Something’s off.” They can be really frustrating, but they can also be useful tools that nudge us towards healing and loving ourselves.