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5 Tips To Get Rid Of Bothering Neck Pain And Headaches

5 Tips To Get Rid Of Bothering Neck Pain And Headaches

Suffering from chronic neck pain and headaches can be a daily struggle and significantly lowers our health and sense of well-being. For some of us we can pinpoint the reasons for the pain but for many people it can be a mystery to how or why the pain has manifested.

Chances are that the pain is the result of bad posture built up over time through daily habits – many of which we are unaware of. The good news is that through careful and specific exercises and readjusting bad habits, we can start to realign the back and spine to eliminate bad posture and, in turn, get rid of neck pain and headaches. These can be done with no equipment and will take up almost no time making them an excellent and healthy part of your daily routine.

Causes of Bad Posture

Suffering from neck pain and headaches is all too common in these modern times. There can be many causes but the main culprit is down to modern practices resulting in bad posture – yes, our phones really are a pain in the neck.

The majority of us fall victim to our phones but how many times a day do you check it? If your answer is 30 or 40 times a day then you’ll be shocked to know that the more accurate number is double that. We check our phones, on average, 5 times every waking hour according to research and those subtle messaging and app-checking habits are causing havoc with our posture.

The head may feel light to us with our amazing muscles keeping it upright and balanced but it’s actually pretty heavy. When we bend our necks to check our phones we are adding a huge amount of weight and stress on the neck and the spine giving way to subtle shifts and ultimately bad posture and pain.

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texting-neck-images-1024x487

    Put this together with long hours sitting at a desk and hunched over a computer at work, and you have a good idea of where your neck pain and headaches are manifesting from. Other daily habits we have that add to bad posture are:

    • Carrying heavy bags on one side of the body – this sends the alignment of the back out of kilter and causes one side of the body to overcompensate.
    • Being overweight – carrying extra weight in different areas of the body can cause bad posture. Carrying too much weight can pull on different muscles and again, causes the body to pull in different directions to make up for it.
    • Wearing high heels and tight clothes – walking around daily in high heels is probably quite obvious when it comes to bad posture but wearing tight clothes or badly fitting clothes can change your centre of gravity and therefore your posture.
    • Walking – be aware of how you walk. We tend to walk a certain way out of habit so it can be hard to notice but continually walking with your head down or shoulders slumped forward can add to your posture pulling out from its proper alignment.
    • Past pain or injuries – when we’ve experienced an injury we tend to deal with the pain by holding our body in a different and unnatural position and when we hold this position on a daily basis it can become a habit and our posture inevitably suffers.

    How Bad Posture Causes Neck Pain and Headaches

    good-posture
      image via healthyhabitshub.com

      Since the neck sits at the top of the back area and spine, it tends to be subject to its movements and misalignments. When the spine is out of alignment the tension builds up and manifests as neck pain and even headaches. Muscles in the neck are particularly affected by the degenerative effects of wear and tear on a daily basis and it’s these muscles that can become tight and cause problems.

      The most common form of bad posture is the head hanging forward and shoulders slumped. Forward head posture is when the neck comes forward and lies over the shoulders resulting in the curving of the spine and the shoulders. This causes pain because of the undue stress on the vertebrae of the lower neck and over a period of time this can worsen and result in chronic neck pain and tension headaches.

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      Get Rid of Neck Pain and Headaches: How To Stop Bad Habits and Rectify Bad Posture

      There are many easy ways you can keep your bad posture habits in check as well as daily exercises you can do to benefit your neck muscles and help prevent and relieve any neck or headache problems you may have.

      Habits: Smartphones or ‘Text Neck’

      gobba-da-smartphone
        image via gvmpoint.it

        Pretty much everyone with a smartphone falls foul of this habit. In fact it is becoming a modern epidemic with 64% of us owning and checking phones on a daily basis. The average person has a 60 degree tilt when checking their screen which amounts to 60lbs or 27kg of pressure on the neck – that’s the equivalent of a seven year-old child. If that shocks you then it’s time to change your habits.

        Bringing the screen to eye level will prevent the neck from tipping forward but equally shouldn’t be too high. Never place the phone on a table or near your lap and check it from there. If you’re using a tablet then try and prop it up so it’s at eye-level especially if you are using it for long periods of time.

        Habits: Slouching While Sitting

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        ergonomics
          image via moss-design.com

          As I mentioned earlier, some of us can spend a lot of time sitting down at our desks and slouching over computers and laptops. If you work in an office then regulations should make sure you are given the right equipment and furniture to help with back health and posture but if you work from home or just generally watching TV then you need to be aware of how you’re sitting.

          Make sure you don’t slouch in your chair and sit with your spine straight and fully supported. The height of the chair is important and should allow you to comfortably rest your feet on the floor and your knees at the level of your hips. Your monitor should be eye-level when you sit up straight. Sitting for long periods allows your back, shoulders and neck to become accustomed to a certain position so make sure that you walk around regularly and pay attention to any pain or niggles as that is your body’s way of telling you it can’t cope.

          Exercise: Soldier Sleeping Position

          Neck exercise

            This is a great exercise that helps to strengthen our neck muscles and help get rid of neck pain and headaches caused by bad posture. You can try this out at any time during the day or before bedtime.

            While lying down with your head and neck resting on a pillow, push your head backwards as though forming a double chin while pressing the head gently back into the pillow. Repeat each movement for the duration of 5 seconds, 10-15 times. It is normal while doing this exercise, to feel like your throat is being blocked but this is okay!

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            Exercise: Sternocleidomastoid (SCM) Stretch

            Sternocleidomastoideus-283x300
              image via garyploski.com

              The SCM muscle is the tightest muscle in your neck and needs a good stretch to relieve any tension caused by bad posture habits.

              Sit in a chair or stand up straight, rotate your head to the right and look up at the ceiling. At this point, your chin should be pointing up at approximately a 45-degree angle. Gently place your left palm lightly on the top of your head above your right ear and gently pull your head toward your left shoulder. Make sure you continue to keep your chin pointing upward and hold the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds. Ideally you should practice this exercise daily to relieve any tension that has built up during the day.

              Exercise: Arm Swing

              Isolated studio shot of a fit Caucasian woman holding the anuvittasana Standing Back Bend yoga position on an exercise mat.

                This exercise promotes good neck posture and strengthens the muscles in the back of your neck isometrically as well as strengthening the muscles in your upper back.

                Hold your arms relaxed at your sides. Pull your head back so your neck is in line with your spine and look forward keeping your chin parallel to the floor. Place your palms together in front of your legs with your arms straight and gently lift your arms straight up and over your head. Pull your shoulders back as far as you can so your elbows and biceps go behind your head but without allowing your neck to jut forward too much. Hold this position for 10 seconds and go back to your original pose. Repeat several times throughout the day.

                Featured photo credit: Unsplash via pixabay.com

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                Jenny Marchal

                A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

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                Last Updated on July 23, 2019

                13 Tips to Face Your Fears, Grow with Them and Enjoy the Ride

                13 Tips to Face Your Fears, Grow with Them and Enjoy the Ride

                Fear. I spend my life talking about fear — fighting fears, fixing fears and understanding fears. And yet I doubt I get 10 calls a year from people saying “Mandie, can you help me fix my fear?”

                Why is this so critically important to you?

                The realization for me is that fear is not the fundamental driving force in your life, it’s what regardless of whether I’m talking to a doctor, a teacher, a CEO’s, a senior citizens or teenager – every single one of those conversations has a direct correlation with your world.

                Fear can range from the overwhelming desire to look away or stop in your tracks to literally fleeing your country and the life you knew. In this article, I will share with you 13 tips to face your fears and enjoy the ride.

                1. Know That Fear Is Real, but Can Be Overcome

                Right now around the world, people are facing fear — real fear. Fear that I pray my children and I will never experience. Does that lessen my fears or your fears in your relativity safe 21st century life?

                When I look at the world we all live in, I find that fear, like so many other emotions, can mean so many different things to so many different people:

                • The child who has to be physically dragged to their first day of school.
                • The man facing the judge.
                • The woman with her hand poised over the buttons over her phone because she has to walk down a dark corridor late at night alone.
                • The man as the surgeon says “count backwards from 10 Mr. Smith.”
                • The woman that’s told “We are sorry, we can’t help you.”
                • The man that faces the empty circle of a gun and prays for his very existence.

                These and a million more (Portrayed in every kind of movie, book or song you could imagine) are what make us human. We face fear and somehow move forward or are stopped in our tracks.

                Like the rabbit in the headlights of the car that veers off through the field away from the tyres of the car, or stays still praying for salvation. Like someone will save them. Sound familiar?

                Fear is huge. Fear is everywhere and yet fear can be overcome, controlled and can even be a power for good.

                2. Accept Your Fear

                Firstly, if you aren’t facing the barrel of the gun, atrocities that make the news or impeding death, that’s a good start. However, it doesn’t mean your fear is any less real.

                We are quick to say “I can’t moan, my life is not as bad as X.” While in theory, that’s honorable your appreciation of Mr. or Mrs. X’s horrific life won’t change anything directly. So accept your fear is relative to you.

                And here’s what can be done.

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                3. Get Some Perspective

                I found myself asking anyone that would answer “what is your worst fear”. The answer that intrigued me the most came from my daughter (15 years old and she usually has a copy of Fight the Fear – my book – in her school bag so she can help someone else be as positive and confident as her. No matter what life throws up.)

                And her fear, surprised me — heights. I pointed out that we live in a sprawling bungalow (one storey) and the highest she goes is two storeys’ at school! She laughed but added, fear isn’t like that Mum. I know it’s not a real fear, but it’s like when you stand on a chair and feel unsafe.

                That girl will go far. Because she truly gets fear.

                We know something is scary and yet we still do it. Why? Because we have a perspective to the fear. When you lose perspective, it can feel too big, and too scary.

                So look around you to get some perspective on your fear:

                • Are you really at risk?
                • Will this kill you?
                • Which leads us on to..
                • If the worst was to happen, what would it be?

                4. Hold a Hand

                As a coach, it is my job to hold someone’s metaphorical hand and help them face a fear.

                Like the child petrified of the thunder storm, or the teen that can’t get back in a car again after failing their test, your job as a parent is to reassure, encourage, enable and motivate someone to face something that ideally they never would choose to again.

                We know many of our fears aren’t real. However, it is only when someone guides us with love, respect, lack of judgement and safety are we able to get through fear. And trust me, you can get through your fears. I’ve seen it so many times.

                Ask yourself:

                • If the worst were to happen, what would that be?
                • Could that really happen?
                • If the worst did happen, how would you recover?
                • If the worst were to happen, what would you need to do next?

                By seeing fear as not the end destination but part of being human, you can see through its wily evil ways and move forward.

                5. Know Whose Hand You Hold, Either Physically or Emotionally

                This helps with fears for the rest of your life.

                Think of someone you can always rely on (and ideally you won’t just answer yourself because that adds a lot of pressure to your existence!) And you will find that you’ve already found a way to get through fear.

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                The beauty of this is that it means that fear becomes part of life not something to be feared and shied away from.

                It means you know you can turn to your friend, partner, colleague, parent, sibling and say “Right, I need to deal with this, and I’m going to need you to help me.”

                For one moment, think about it from the other person’s view point. When we get to help other people, we feel valued, loved, respected and lots of other positive emotions and we get a good dose of positive chemicals setting off in our bodies too.

                Your fear, and your determination to fight it, helped someone else too. Now that’s cool right?

                6. Understand That There Are Some Things Fear Will Never Touch

                I like to find role models in life — people who have faced heroism, history changing moments, war, atrocities, miracles, life saving inventions.

                Not everyone was looking for greatness, however, they all found it. And one of my favourite books to date is written about Alistair Urquhart, the forgotten highlander. If this doesn’t get turned into a film in the future, then no man’s story is likely to.

                Alistair went through the most horrific experiences in World War II. If you think of one of the awful things that happened back then in our world, Alistair went through at least 3 of them! Asked afterwards, how did you cope? He talked about how whatever they did to his body, no matter how they starved, tortured, threatened or mocked him, they couldn’t have his mind. In his mind, he was free.

                Of all the people’s voices I’ve heard in my head over the years, this is one of those statements that reminds me anything is possible if you have faith and hope.

                Look for the things in life that fear can’t touch. They will create confidence and faith for the future, whatever you face. And they will give you a sense of why being you is awesome.

                Of all the billions of people on this planet, no one will have an answer identical to yours!

                7. Process Your Fears to Carry on with Life

                Being brave is not about sticking your chest out and smiling regardless of what you endure. It is about finding a way to emotionally process your fears to be able to keep going.

                I have a tool kit of things I can rely on – tools, strategies, techniques. They include people to hug or talk to, music, hobbies, walks on the beach and even my favourite food. It sounds mad but at the times where I have questioned “how will I get through this?” I’ve found immense joy in doing the most unlikely of thing that makes me smile.

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                It may be a short lived moment of happiness. However, it reminded me that nothing stays the same and I can find a way.

                One client told me that it was crazy when it felt like their world was falling around their ears to run a bath to the brim (you don’t waste water) get the best bath oils, light too many candles, lock the door and drink a glass of bubbly (champagne is only for special occasions.)

                Did that moment fix the disaster that my client’s life felt? No. However, it gave them a moment of calm, and the brain is far quicker to find solutions, resolve and motivation to keep going when you do that.

                It may feel like madness to do something you love, however, it can be a powerful way to help you find solutions to the fears you face in life.

                8. Assume the Worst

                If you read the statement from the client above. Notice how they assumed it was wrong to fill the bath up to the top? How bubbly is only for special occasions?

                Think how naughty they felt to be doing something that was not allowed? Think about what age it may have made them feel?Think about how they feel about champagne? What special moments it’s been a part of in their lives?

                And you can see how the assumptions they made about their “right” to have these things was not healthy.

                When I drag the assumptions out of people’s words for them to see, they are often struck by how negative the words make them feel.

                Don’t assume your words aren’t impacting on you. You can go through fear and actually enjoy the ride when you take the time to understand how you are letting words get to you.

                9. Take a Fear That Feels Insurmountable Right Now

                If you were to repeat it to me out loud, what would you say?

                Would you have blame on yourself in there? Would you assume others can do it and it’s just you? Would you feel small, unsuccessful, useless, unworthy?

                Usually, when you do this exercise, you are able to spot the untruths that run wild in your head, convincing you that you are doomed. And rarely when we are faced with our assumptions is there is a lot of evidence to them.

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                10. You Are Not Defined by Your Fear

                One fear does not define your life – be mindful of that. It is likely to lead you to thinking of all the times you’ve succeeded and bring a moment of calm, confidence and faith back to you.

                11. Go with Fear

                When you learn to go with fear, you could find yourself actually having fun, no seriously – having fun.

                I have a few amazing clients I’m working with right now who would describe themselves as life long worriers, or pessimists. In the past, that has served them well, enabling them to keep safe, steer clear of risks and even develop strategies in the event of disasters. However, now they find it’s becoming hard to break the cycle and they really want to because it’s holding them back.

                Notice how they’ve found their hidden fears and want to face them?

                One client said “I knew this was going to be tough, and I knew I couldn’t fight it alone and I knew you would be the one to help me.” Before, I sat an incredibly successful, confident, capable business owner with a family and a social life to die for.

                However, I’ve learned that the most successful looking lives can hide things that impact on life, success, love, happiness and business.

                We didn’t start with the fear that they felt was holding them back, we broke the fear down, and found lots of little obstacles that had been deemed as “life” and “unchangeable” and “that’s just the way it is” by developing awareness to the little steps on the road to their obstacles to happiness and success they were able to tackle them in a different way.

                12. Discover Great Skills in Your Scary Moments

                And in that client’s words, “I came here to work with you to grow my company, and my own personal skills. I didn’t expect to get the children to be cleaning up after themselves and my partner being more attentive! It all feels a little magic.”

                The moral is that out of the scariest of moments, we can find great skills we didn’t know we had. Find better, healthier, happier ways to live and find ways to enjoy life more. (And have a bit of magic!)

                What a great place to be in ready for the next fear that thinks it’s going to get in the way of you, right?

                13. Own Your Fear

                Think back over these tips and come up with at least one example for each one. Write them down. Put them on your phone. Turn them into a piece of art. Turn them into a poem. Frame them. Go for a fast walk across the fields, beach, down town and repeat these things in your head to the sound of your feet on the ground.

                We rarely take the time to appreciate how far we have come, how much we can achieve or what we are capable of – by really owning the tips in this article, you will have given your brain a big fat dose of “Damn right! I can do this!” and the motivation and accountability to say “Let’s find a way” through any fear.

                You can’t help but feel good when you see that, can you? And fear doesn’t stand a chance, does it?

                More Resources About Fighting Fear

                Featured photo credit: Ben White via unsplash.com

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