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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 January 21, 2020

                The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

                The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

                Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

                your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

                  Why You Need a Vision

                  Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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                  How to Create Your Life Vision

                  Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

                  What Do You Want?

                  The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

                  It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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                  Some tips to guide you:

                  • Remember to ask why you want certain things
                  • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
                  • Give yourself permission to dream.
                  • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
                  • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

                  Some questions to start your exploration:

                  • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
                  • What would you like to have more of in your life?
                  • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
                  • What are your secret passions and dreams?
                  • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
                  • What do you want your relationships to be like?
                  • What qualities would you like to develop?
                  • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
                  • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
                  • What would you most like to accomplish?
                  • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

                  It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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                  What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

                  Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

                  A few prompts to get you started:

                  • What will you have accomplished already?
                  • How will you feel about yourself?
                  • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
                  • What does your ideal day look like?
                  • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
                  • What would you be doing?
                  • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
                  • How are you dressed?
                  • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
                  • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
                  • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

                  It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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                  Plan Backwards

                  It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

                  • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
                  • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
                  • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
                  • What important actions would you have had to take?
                  • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
                  • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
                  • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
                  • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
                  • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

                  Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

                  It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

                  Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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