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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

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                How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

                How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

                Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

                Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality.

                I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

                You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

                Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

                When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

                I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

                Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

                Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

                Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

                1. The Inner Critic

                This is your constant abuser. He is often a conglomeration of:

                • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
                • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
                • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
                • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

                He is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

                Why else would he abuse you? And since “he” is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

                2. The Worrier

                This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

                He is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it.

                Occasionally, he is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

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                3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

                He is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

                He can be set off by words or feelings. He can even be set off by sounds and smells.

                He has no real motivation; he has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

                4. The Sleep Depriver

                This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

                His motivation can be:

                • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
                • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
                • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
                • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

                How can you control these squatters?

                How to Master Your Mind

                You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

                Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

                There are two ways to control your thoughts:

                • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
                • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

                This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

                The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

                Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

                For the Inner Critic

                When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

                You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

                For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

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                You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

                “Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

                If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

                • He riles up the Worrier.
                • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
                • He is often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
                • He is a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
                • He is the destroyer of self-esteem. He convinces you that you’re not worthy. He’s a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get him out!

                Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

                Replace him with your new best friend who supports, encourages, and enhances your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

                For the Worrier

                Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

                Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

                You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

                • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
                • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
                • Muscles tense

                Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

                If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

                Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

                “Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

                Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

                If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

                Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

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                Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

                For example:

                If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

                “I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

                Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

                “Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

                Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

                For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

                Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

                The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

                • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
                • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
                • Muscles tension

                I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

                Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

                Breathe in through your nose:

                • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
                • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
                • Focus on your belly rising.

                Breathe out through your nose:

                • Feel your lungs emptying.
                • Focus on your belly falling.
                • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

                Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

                Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

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                One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

                Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

                For the Sleep Depriver

                (He’s made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

                I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

                Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

                1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
                2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

                When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

                From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

                For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

                If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

                You can also use this technique any time you want to:

                • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
                • Shut down your thinking.
                • Calm your feelings.
                • Simply focus on the present moment. 

                Becoming the Master of Your Mind

                Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

                You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

                Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

                Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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