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15 ways to cure the homework headache

According to a survey by Public Agenda, almost half of all parents of school-age students said they have arguments involving tears or yelling with their kids about homework. And one-third of parents admit those school assignments cause repeated kid meltdowns. There's been some controversy lately about homework that some say isn't necessary, assigned by an administrative policy that's trying to make the parents feel the school is serious about education, or being sure their attendees pass standardized tests. Research says that the right kind of homework assignments enhances children's learning as well as helping them acquire the essential skills for success in school and life (such as organization, self-pacing, problem solving, internal motivation, concentration, memory, goal setting, good old "stick-to-it-ness") and don't forget, they might learn something!

So here are a few tips to help parents weigh the battle versus the learning. The key is a bit of organization from the start.

Make homework mandatory, not a choice. From the beginning maintain a firm, serious attitude about homework. Your kid needs to know that homework is not an option. Enforce the "work before play" rule.

Your role is guider, not doer. While you need to make sure they understand the concepts and are capable of the assignments, once they do, step back! Use the mantra "Never do for your child what your child can do for himself." It may take a bit of adjustment, but hang tight until you reach the desired change: independent, self-motivated learners.

Know the teacher’s expectations. Be clear as to expectations and homework policy so you are all on the same page. If your child is in middle school, she probably has a number of teachers, so you will have to do the same query per teacher. Many teachers prefer an e-mail query — find out how the teacher prefers to be contacted. Most important: Find out, on an average, how long the homework should take per night. That answer will help you determine if your child has too much work, is a procrastinator, has a learning disability or lacks study skills. Talk with your child so he knows you are not only aware of those expectations, but support them.

Develop a weekly homework reminder. Teach your child to create a simple reminder of daily or weekly assignments as well as long-term projects and reports. A white board or chalkboard is preferable because it is reusable. With a permanent marker, list the days of the week or month and then note regular daily or weekly assignments (Monday: sharing; Wednesday: library; Friday: spelling test) as well as practice dates, Scout meetings, tutoring, etc. Use a different color to represent each kid (John is blue; Sally is green). The goal is for your child to be able to do this on her own.

Create a special homework spot. Involve your child in the selection and stock it with necessary school supplies. It helps your kid get organized and saves time wasters: "I can't find a ruler!" The general rule is, the younger the child, the closer that spot will be near you. Put the computer in a place where you can carefully view what your child is doing online. Background noise from TV is distracting. Turn it off.

Set a routine. Select a time that works best for your kid to do his homework — after school, before dinner, after dinner — then stick to it. Ask your child for his input and do try to accommodate his schedule. A set and predictable schedule helps defray the battles and gets your kid in a routine. Drawing a clock face of the set time helps younger kids. Set up a rule: "Homework first, then play."

Praise efforts! A Columbia University study found that praising your child's work effort (not inherent intelligence — "You're so smart") stretches persistence, develops a positive mind-set and increases grades. And restrain the urges to correct all his errors or focus on the mistakes.

Teach study skills. Usually the biggest reason for those homework battles is that kids don't have study skills. So slowly make sure your child has those skills.

Planning skills. Make a list of what needs to be done in order of priority. He can then cross each off as done. A young child can draw a different task on paper strips, then put them in the order he plans to complete them, and then staple the packet together. Each time a task is finished, your child tears off a strip until no more remain.

Divide the assignment into smaller parts. Breaking up homework into smaller chunks is often helpful for kids who have difficulty sticking to a task or who seem overwhelmed by an assignment. Just tell your child to do "one chunk at a time." Gradually you can increase the size of the "work chunks" as your child's confidence increases.

Respect learning style. Tune in to how your child learns and encourage it! Visual: Draw pictures, color code. Auditory: Hears it, plugs in music to tune out sound, hums as he reads, says words out loud. Kinesthetic: Moves — so don't stop him. If your child has trouble focusing, then suggest he work in 20-minute bouts, then take a quick refresher break.

Do the hardest first. Teach your child to do the hardest homework assignment first. It takes the most concentration (which is usually at the beginning of a study session) and the longest time.

Put away. Once done, establish a routine that she immediately puts the work in her folder or binder placed in her backpack and set by the door to find the next morning.

Set a consequence for incomplete work. If you find out the homework isn't getting done and done with the quality you expect, then announce a consequence. For instance, if work isn't finished by a predetermined time (ideally, the same time each night), your kid knows he will lose a desired privilege either that evening or the following day.

Stay in touch with the teacher, especially if you see your child is struggling. Consider a tutor! When you see your child struggling (homework becomes an ongoing battle and your relationship with your kid is taking a dive), and your child continues to fall behind despite homework efforts, then consider a tutor. Consider a high school kid or even a retired teacher. Then make a plan with the teacher so your child is being tutored in exactly the needed areas.

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  • Nervous System Health

How to Relieve & Prevent Headaches & Migraines Fast

Last Updated: January 26, 2024 Fact Checked

This article was medically reviewed by Sari Eitches, MBE, MD and by wikiHow staff writer, Aly Rusciano . Dr. Sari Eitches is an Integrative Internist who runs Tower Integrative Health and Wellness, based in Los Angeles, California. She specializes in plant-based nutrition, weight management, women's health, preventative medicine, and depression. She is a Diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine and the American Board of Integrative and Holistic Medicine. She received a BS from the University of California, Berkeley, an MD from SUNY Upstate Medical University, and an MBE from the University of Pennsylvania. She completed her residency at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, NY and served as an attending internist at the University of Pennsylvania. There are 35 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 11,670,804 times.

Is there anything worse than a headache? Whether you have a minor throb or a debilitating migraine, they can be a mood buster. But what if we told you there were plenty of ways to help the pain fade away? In this article, we’ll teach you everything you need to know about getting rid of a headache, from at-home care to over-the-counter medications. With our help, you’ll be able to soothe your head and prevent future headaches from coming on.

Things You Should Know

  • Sip a caffeinated cup of tea or coffee after taking an over-the-counter pain medication to help your headache disappear faster.
  • Place a cold or hot compress on your head or eyes to soothe built-up pressure and pain.
  • Drink plenty of water, have a regular sleep schedule, and exercise daily to prevent headaches from popping up.
  • Try seeing a chiropractor or acupuncturist if you have chronic headaches to relieve tension and calm the body.

Know the type of headache you’re experiencing.

Not all headaches have the same symptoms or causes.

  • Tension headaches: These are the most common, occurring less than 15 days a month. Often triggered by stress, eye strain, or insomnia, they can cause head pain that lasts around 30 minutes. [2] X Trustworthy Source Cleveland Clinic Educational website from one of the world's leading hospitals Go to source
  • Migraines: These can last from hours to days. They usually cause throbbing pain and sensitivity to light and sound. If you’re having a headache that lasts anywhere between 4 to 72 hours, that’s a migraine.
  • Sinus headaches: These are a common symptom of sinus infections, colds, and seasonal allergies and cause pressure and pain around the nose, eyes, and forehead. [3] X Trustworthy Source Cleveland Clinic Educational website from one of the world's leading hospitals Go to source
  • Rebound headaches: These are caused by the frequent use of pain relievers or anti-migraine drugs.
  • Cluster headaches: These are rare and tend to occur in cycles. They’re classifiable by intense pain around one eye or side of the head.

Drink a large glass of water.

Not drinking enough water can cause headaches.

  • Carry a filled reusable water bottle with you wherever you go so you’re reminded to drink more water .
  • Try to drink room temperature water if you’re prone to migraines, as extremely cold or iced water could trigger symptoms. [7] X Trustworthy Source PubMed Central Journal archive from the U.S. National Institutes of Health Go to source

Place an ice pack on your eyes or head.

A cold compress...

  • Use the cold compress for around 25 minutes, then take a break and see how you feel. [9] X Trustworthy Source PubMed Central Journal archive from the U.S. National Institutes of Health Go to source
  • Try using a cooling eye mask to block out light and soothe pressure.

Take a warm bath or shower.

Warm water can help relax tense muscles and open your sinuses.

  • If bathing isn’t an option, try pressing a heating pad or warm compress to your head.

Dim the lights and turn off screens.

A dark, distraction-free room may help soothe your symptoms.

  • If turning off or dimming the lights isn’t an option, close your eyes or place your head under a blanket or pillow to make your own dark, quiet space.
  • Try using an eye mask to keep things nice and dark no matter what.

Take a nap.

Getting enough sleep...

  • Make sure to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night, as sleep deprivation can trigger headaches.
  • Limit your screen time before bed so you can wind down before closing your eyes.
  • Try to stick to a regular sleep routine, going to bed and waking up at the same time each day (even on weekends). [15] X Trustworthy Source Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Main public health institute for the US, run by the Dept. of Health and Human Services Go to source

Relax with meditation or yoga.

Stress is one of the leading causes of tension headaches.

  • Try yoga poses like a forward fold, downward facing dog, or head-to-knee for quick relief. [17] X Research source
  • Count your breaths and close your eyes when you feel a headache coming on, rather than focusing on the pounding in your head. [18] X Research source
  • Do deep breathing exercises while you meditate to help calm your mind and nervous system. [19] X Research source

Try over-the-counter medications.

Tylenol...

  • Try to take these medications at the first sign of a headache for faster relief. [21] X Trustworthy Source Cleveland Clinic Educational website from one of the world's leading hospitals Go to source
  • Limit your medication use to 2 days a week, as too much could cause more headaches.

Warning: Taking medication should never be your first choice or your automatic go-to. Do not rely on medicine all the time, instead maybe lean towards other relieving methods first.

Use a lavender essential oil.

The calming smell...

  • Always purchase essential oils from well-known and reputable companies to ensure you get the best quality item.
  • Dilute lavender oil by mixing it with a carrier oil, like coconut or almond oil, in a 1:1 ratio. This will help prevent burns and rashes, especially if you have sensitive skin.

Drink some caffeine.

Taking a small amount of caffeine when your headache starts may help.

  • Try drinking a tea with ginger in it to ease the nausea and vomiting that may come with more severe headaches. [25] X Trustworthy Source PubMed Central Journal archive from the U.S. National Institutes of Health Go to source
  • Be careful when it comes to drinking caffeine, as having too much can cause migraines and possibly a caffeine addiction (which has its own type of headache withdrawals).
  • Doctors recommend having within 150 to 200 mg of caffeine a day, so avoid this method if you’ve already hit your daily allowance. [26] X Trustworthy Source Cleveland Clinic Educational website from one of the world's leading hospitals Go to source

Stay hydrated when drinking alcohol.

Drinking too much alcohol can make you dehydrated.

  • Opt for food with a high water content while and after you drink, like watermelon, celery, and cucumber, to help you stay hydrated .

Try a magnesium supplement.

Magnesium deficiencies can cause migraines in adults.

  • Magnesium deficiency is the most common amongst those who have Type 2 Diabetes, Crohn’s Disease, or are taking medications.
  • Talk to your doctor before adding a magnesium supplement to your daily routine, as they’ll be able to tell you the exact dosage you and your body need.

Watch what you eat.

Chocolate, cheese, and processed foods can trigger headaches.

  • Aged cheese (blue cheese, brie, cheddar, mozzarella)
  • Pizza or other tomato-based products
  • Potato chips
  • Smoked or dried fish
  • Pickled foods
  • Canned soups
  • Cultured dairy products (sour cream, yogurt)
  • Artificial sweeteners

Exercise regularly.

At least 30 minutes of exercise a day can prevent headaches.

  • Who says you have to go to the gym and lift weights to exercise? Move your body in whatever way that feels good! Maybe that’s dancing, walking, running, or swimming.

Try acupressure.

Pressing specific points on your body can help reduce muscular tension.

  • On your hand: Massage the soft part of your hand in between your index finger and thumb. Apply firm, circular pressure for 4 to 5 seconds. [34] X Research source
  • Behind your ear: Locate the mastoid bone just behind your ear, and follow the natural groove in your neck to where the muscles attach to the skull. Apply firm pressure for 4 to 5 seconds while breathing deeply. [35] X Research source
  • On your shoulder: Locate the point on your shoulder between your neck and the edge of your shoulder. Using your opposite hand (right hand on the left shoulder, left hand on the right shoulder), pinch the shoulder muscle between your fingers and thumb. Use your index finger to apply firm downward pressure for 4 to 5 seconds. [36] X Research source

Try acupuncture.

Acupuncture can relax triggered nerves that cause headaches.

Do weekly massage sessions.

Regular massages may help reduce the frequency of headaches.

  • Massages alone won’t cure a headache—it’s simply a preventative step—so make sure you try other methods as well.

Visit a chiropractor.

Spinal manipulation could reduce the pain that triggers chronic headaches.

  • Talk to your chiropractor about your headaches and symptoms, as they can pinpoint if and where the problem is in your back or neck.
  • As an alternative, try osteopathic manipulative treatment, which is similar to chiropractic therapy but focuses on improving the body’s overall system. [41] X Research source

Expert Q&A

Sari Eitches, MBE, MD

Reader Videos

  • Avoid taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen if you have an ulcer or gastrointestinal problems, as they can worsen your symptoms. Thanks Helpful 8 Not Helpful 0
  • Get emergency medical treatment if you have sudden numbness or weakness in your face, arm, or leg, become confused, and/or have trouble speaking or understanding people. Thanks Helpful 8 Not Helpful 2
  • If you experience a fast yet incredibly painful headache that lasts about 5 minutes, this is could be a thunderclap headache, which often signal a serious issue. Contact your doctor immediately. [42] X Trustworthy Source Cleveland Clinic Educational website from one of the world's leading hospitals Go to source Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 0

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Use Reflexology for Migraines

  • ↑ https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9639-headaches#management-and-treatment
  • ↑ https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9641-sinus-headaches#management-and-treatment
  • ↑ Sari Eitches, MBE, MD. Sleep Specialist. Expert Interview. 3 April 2020.
  • ↑ https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/headaches#prevented
  • ↑ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2908954/
  • ↑ https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11442559/
  • ↑ https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003024.htm
  • ↑ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1697736/
  • ↑ https://headaches.org/hot-and-cold-packs-showers/
  • ↑ https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15985108/
  • ↑ https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/sleep_hygiene.html
  • ↑ https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16897622/
  • ↑ https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/yoga-by-benefit/headache/
  • ↑ https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/resource-library/understanding-migraine-cattreatmentmindfulness-meditation-migraine/
  • ↑ https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/meditation-in-depth
  • ↑ https://www.pennmedicine.org/updates/blogs/health-and-wellness/2019/november/migraines-vs-headaches
  • ↑ https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/drugs/9652-headache-medicine
  • ↑ https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22517298/
  • ↑ https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/aromatherapy-do-essential-oils-really-work
  • ↑ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5655397/
  • ↑ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4818021/
  • ↑ https://health.clevelandclinic.org/study-reveals-that-caffeine-can-actually-prevent-migraines/
  • ↑ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7551876/
  • ↑ https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/magnesium-deficiency
  • ↑ https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/9648-headaches-and-food
  • ↑ http://exploreim.ucla.edu/wellness/acupressure-for-headache-or-neck-and-shoulder-tension/
  • ↑ http://exploreim.ucla.edu/chinese-medicine/acupressure-point-li4/
  • ↑ http://exploreim.ucla.edu/chinese-medicine/acupressure-point-gb20/
  • ↑ http://exploreim.ucla.edu/chinese-medicine/acupressure-point-gb21/
  • ↑ https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/resource-library/understanding-migraineacupuncture-and-migraine-finding-a-combination-that-sticks/
  • ↑ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3099267/
  • ↑ https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16827629/
  • ↑ https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21640251
  • ↑ https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/spinal-manipulation-what-you-need-to-know
  • ↑ https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17876-thunderclap-headaches

About This Article

Sari Eitches, MBE, MD

Medical Disclaimer

The content of this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, examination, diagnosis, or treatment. You should always contact your doctor or other qualified healthcare professional before starting, changing, or stopping any kind of health treatment.

Read More...

If you’re suffering from a headache, there are some tricks you can try for fast-acting relief. Close your eyes and inhale for a count of 5, then exhale for a count of 5. Keep breathing like this until your headache subsides. Massage your temples or the back of your neck at the same time for extra relief. Placing a cold compress over your eyes or forehead can also help, especially if you have a migraine. For a tension headache, hold a heating pack against your head or neck, or take a warm bath or shower. Caffeine can also get rid of a headache, so try drinking some caffeinated tea or coffee. Even just drinking water can ease a headache if you’re feeling dehydrated. If your headache persists, take a break from what you’re doing and do something relaxing, like yoga or meditation. Dim the lights and shut off any screens since bright light can make headaches worse. Applying peppermint oil to your temples and inhaling lavender oil can provide quick headache relief and help you relax. Finally, consider taking an over-the-counter pain reliever like Tylenol or Advil if natural methods aren’t helping. To learn how to get rid of a headache with natural remedies like ginger and tea, read the article! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Sat / act prep online guides and tips, how to do homework: 15 expert tips and tricks.

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Everyone struggles with homework sometimes, but if getting your homework done has become a chronic issue for you, then you may need a little extra help. That’s why we’ve written this article all about how to do homework. Once you’re finished reading it, you’ll know how to do homework (and have tons of new ways to motivate yourself to do homework)! 

We’ve broken this article down into a few major sections. You’ll find: 

  • A diagnostic test to help you figure out why you’re struggling with homework
  • A discussion of the four major homework problems students face, along with expert tips for addressing them 
  • A bonus section with tips for how to do homework fast

By the end of this article, you’ll be prepared to tackle whatever homework assignments your teachers throw at you . 

So let’s get started! 

body-stack-of-textbooks-red

How to Do Homework: Figure Out Your Struggles 

Sometimes it feels like everything is standing between you and getting your homework done. But the truth is, most people only have one or two major roadblocks that are keeping them from getting their homework done well and on time. 

The best way to figure out how to get motivated to do homework starts with pinpointing the issues that are affecting your ability to get your assignments done. That’s why we’ve developed a short quiz to help you identify the areas where you’re struggling. 

Take the quiz below and record your answers on your phone or on a scrap piece of paper. Keep in mind there are no wrong answers! 

1. You’ve just been assigned an essay in your English class that’s due at the end of the week. What’s the first thing you do?

A. Keep it in mind, even though you won’t start it until the day before it’s due  B. Open up your planner. You’ve got to figure out when you’ll write your paper since you have band practice, a speech tournament, and your little sister’s dance recital this week, too.  C. Groan out loud. Another essay? You could barely get yourself to write the last one!  D. Start thinking about your essay topic, which makes you think about your art project that’s due the same day, which reminds you that your favorite artist might have just posted to Instagram...so you better check your feed right now. 

2. Your mom asked you to pick up your room before she gets home from work. You’ve just gotten home from school. You decide you’ll tackle your chores: 

A. Five minutes before your mom walks through the front door. As long as it gets done, who cares when you start?  B. As soon as you get home from your shift at the local grocery store.  C. After you give yourself a 15-minute pep talk about how you need to get to work.  D. You won’t get it done. Between texts from your friends, trying to watch your favorite Netflix show, and playing with your dog, you just lost track of time! 

3. You’ve signed up to wash dogs at the Humane Society to help earn money for your senior class trip. You: 

A. Show up ten minutes late. You put off leaving your house until the last minute, then got stuck in unexpected traffic on the way to the shelter.  B. Have to call and cancel at the last minute. You forgot you’d already agreed to babysit your cousin and bake cupcakes for tomorrow’s bake sale.  C. Actually arrive fifteen minutes early with extra brushes and bandanas you picked up at the store. You’re passionate about animals, so you’re excited to help out! D. Show up on time, but only get three dogs washed. You couldn’t help it: you just kept getting distracted by how cute they were!

4. You have an hour of downtime, so you decide you’re going to watch an episode of The Great British Baking Show. You: 

A. Scroll through your social media feeds for twenty minutes before hitting play, which means you’re not able to finish the whole episode. Ugh! You really wanted to see who was sent home!  B. Watch fifteen minutes until you remember you’re supposed to pick up your sister from band practice before heading to your part-time job. No GBBO for you!  C. You finish one episode, then decide to watch another even though you’ve got SAT studying to do. It’s just more fun to watch people make scones.  D. Start the episode, but only catch bits and pieces of it because you’re reading Twitter, cleaning out your backpack, and eating a snack at the same time.

5. Your teacher asks you to stay after class because you’ve missed turning in two homework assignments in a row. When she asks you what’s wrong, you say: 

A. You planned to do your assignments during lunch, but you ran out of time. You decided it would be better to turn in nothing at all than submit unfinished work.  B. You really wanted to get the assignments done, but between your extracurriculars, family commitments, and your part-time job, your homework fell through the cracks.  C. You have a hard time psyching yourself to tackle the assignments. You just can’t seem to find the motivation to work on them once you get home.  D. You tried to do them, but you had a hard time focusing. By the time you realized you hadn’t gotten anything done, it was already time to turn them in. 

Like we said earlier, there are no right or wrong answers to this quiz (though your results will be better if you answered as honestly as possible). Here’s how your answers break down: 

  • If your answers were mostly As, then your biggest struggle with doing homework is procrastination. 
  • If your answers were mostly Bs, then your biggest struggle with doing homework is time management. 
  • If your answers were mostly Cs, then your biggest struggle with doing homework is motivation. 
  • If your answers were mostly Ds, then your biggest struggle with doing homework is getting distracted. 

Now that you’ve identified why you’re having a hard time getting your homework done, we can help you figure out how to fix it! Scroll down to find your core problem area to learn more about how you can start to address it. 

And one more thing: you’re really struggling with homework, it’s a good idea to read through every section below. You may find some additional tips that will help make homework less intimidating. 

body-procrastination-meme

How to Do Homework When You’re a Procrastinator  

Merriam Webster defines “procrastinate” as “to put off intentionally and habitually.” In other words, procrastination is when you choose to do something at the last minute on a regular basis. If you’ve ever found yourself pulling an all-nighter, trying to finish an assignment between periods, or sprinting to turn in a paper minutes before a deadline, you’ve experienced the effects of procrastination. 

If you’re a chronic procrastinator, you’re in good company. In fact, one study found that 70% to 95% of undergraduate students procrastinate when it comes to doing their homework. Unfortunately, procrastination can negatively impact your grades. Researchers have found that procrastination can lower your grade on an assignment by as much as five points ...which might not sound serious until you realize that can mean the difference between a B- and a C+. 

Procrastination can also negatively affect your health by increasing your stress levels , which can lead to other health conditions like insomnia, a weakened immune system, and even heart conditions. Getting a handle on procrastination can not only improve your grades, it can make you feel better, too! 

The big thing to understand about procrastination is that it’s not the result of laziness. Laziness is defined as being “disinclined to activity or exertion.” In other words, being lazy is all about doing nothing. But a s this Psychology Today article explains , procrastinators don’t put things off because they don’t want to work. Instead, procrastinators tend to postpone tasks they don’t want to do in favor of tasks that they perceive as either more important or more fun. Put another way, procrastinators want to do things...as long as it’s not their homework! 

3 Tips f or Conquering Procrastination 

Because putting off doing homework is a common problem, there are lots of good tactics for addressing procrastination. Keep reading for our three expert tips that will get your homework habits back on track in no time. 

#1: Create a Reward System

Like we mentioned earlier, procrastination happens when you prioritize other activities over getting your homework done. Many times, this happens because homework...well, just isn’t enjoyable. But you can add some fun back into the process by rewarding yourself for getting your work done. 

Here’s what we mean: let’s say you decide that every time you get your homework done before the day it’s due, you’ll give yourself a point. For every five points you earn, you’ll treat yourself to your favorite dessert: a chocolate cupcake! Now you have an extra (delicious!) incentive to motivate you to leave procrastination in the dust. 

If you’re not into cupcakes, don’t worry. Your reward can be anything that motivates you . Maybe it’s hanging out with your best friend or an extra ten minutes of video game time. As long as you’re choosing something that makes homework worth doing, you’ll be successful. 

#2: Have a Homework Accountability Partner 

If you’re having trouble getting yourself to start your homework ahead of time, it may be a good idea to call in reinforcements . Find a friend or classmate you can trust and explain to them that you’re trying to change your homework habits. Ask them if they’d be willing to text you to make sure you’re doing your homework and check in with you once a week to see if you’re meeting your anti-procrastination goals. 

Sharing your goals can make them feel more real, and an accountability partner can help hold you responsible for your decisions. For example, let’s say you’re tempted to put off your science lab write-up until the morning before it’s due. But you know that your accountability partner is going to text you about it tomorrow...and you don’t want to fess up that you haven’t started your assignment. A homework accountability partner can give you the extra support and incentive you need to keep your homework habits on track. 

#3: Create Your Own Due Dates 

If you’re a life-long procrastinator, you might find that changing the habit is harder than you expected. In that case, you might try using procrastination to your advantage! If you just can’t seem to stop doing your work at the last minute, try setting your own due dates for assignments that range from a day to a week before the assignment is actually due. 

Here’s what we mean. Let’s say you have a math worksheet that’s been assigned on Tuesday and is due on Friday. In your planner, you can write down the due date as Thursday instead. You may still put off your homework assignment until the last minute...but in this case, the “last minute” is a day before the assignment’s real due date . This little hack can trick your procrastination-addicted brain into planning ahead! 

body-busy-meme-2

If you feel like Kevin Hart in this meme, then our tips for doing homework when you're busy are for you. 

How to Do Homework When You’re too Busy

If you’re aiming to go to a top-tier college , you’re going to have a full plate. Because college admissions is getting more competitive, it’s important that you’re maintaining your grades , studying hard for your standardized tests , and participating in extracurriculars so your application stands out. A packed schedule can get even more hectic once you add family obligations or a part-time job to the mix. 

If you feel like you’re being pulled in a million directions at once, you’re not alone. Recent research has found that stress—and more severe stress-related conditions like anxiety and depression— are a major problem for high school students . In fact, one study from the American Psychological Association found that during the school year, students’ stress levels are higher than those of the adults around them. 

For students, homework is a major contributor to their overall stress levels . Many high schoolers have multiple hours of homework every night , and figuring out how to fit it into an already-packed schedule can seem impossible. 

3 Tips for Fitting Homework Into Your Busy Schedule

While it might feel like you have literally no time left in your schedule, there are still ways to make sure you’re able to get your homework done and meet your other commitments. Here are our expert homework tips for even the busiest of students. 

#1: Make a Prioritized To-Do List 

You probably already have a to-do list to keep yourself on track. The next step is to prioritize the items on your to-do list so you can see what items need your attention right away. 

Here’s how it works: at the beginning of each day, sit down and make a list of all the items you need to get done before you go to bed. This includes your homework, but it should also take into account any practices, chores, events, or job shifts you may have. Once you get everything listed out, it’s time to prioritize them using the labels A, B, and C. Here’s what those labels mean:

  • A Tasks : tasks that have to get done—like showing up at work or turning in an assignment—get an A. 
  • B Tasks : these are tasks that you would like to get done by the end of the day but aren’t as time sensitive. For example, studying for a test you have next week could be a B-level task. It’s still important, but it doesn’t have to be done right away. 
  • C Tasks: these are tasks that aren’t very important and/or have no real consequences if you don’t get them done immediately. For instance, if you’re hoping to clean out your closet but it’s not an assigned chore from your parents, you could label that to-do item with a C. 

Prioritizing your to-do list helps you visualize which items need your immediate attention, and which items you can leave for later. A prioritized to-do list ensures that you’re spending your time efficiently and effectively, which helps you make room in your schedule for homework. So even though you might really want to start making decorations for Homecoming (a B task), you’ll know that finishing your reading log (an A task) is more important. 

#2: Use a Planner With Time Labels 

Your planner is probably packed with notes, events, and assignments already. (And if you’re not using a planner, it’s time to start!) But planners can do more for you than just remind you when an assignment is due. If you’re using a planner with time labels, it can help you visualize how you need to spend your day.

A planner with time labels breaks your day down into chunks, and you assign tasks to each chunk of time. For example, you can make a note of your class schedule with assignments, block out time to study, and make sure you know when you need to be at practice. Once you know which tasks take priority, you can add them to any empty spaces in your day. 

Planning out how you spend your time not only helps you use it wisely, it can help you feel less overwhelmed, too . We’re big fans of planners that include a task list ( like this one ) or have room for notes ( like this one ). 

#3: Set Reminders on Your Phone 

If you need a little extra nudge to make sure you’re getting your homework done on time, it’s a good idea to set some reminders on your phone. You don’t need a fancy app, either. You can use your alarm app to have it go off at specific times throughout the day to remind you to do your homework. This works especially well if you have a set homework time scheduled. So if you’ve decided you’re doing homework at 6:00 pm, you can set an alarm to remind you to bust out your books and get to work. 

If you use your phone as your planner, you may have the option to add alerts, emails, or notifications to scheduled events . Many calendar apps, including the one that comes with your phone, have built-in reminders that you can customize to meet your needs. So if you block off time to do your homework from 4:30 to 6:00 pm, you can set a reminder that will pop up on your phone when it’s time to get started. 

body-unmotivated-meme

This dog isn't judging your lack of motivation...but your teacher might. Keep reading for tips to help you motivate yourself to do your homework.

How to Do Homework When You’re Unmotivated 

At first glance, it may seem like procrastination and being unmotivated are the same thing. After all, both of these issues usually result in you putting off your homework until the very last minute. 

But there’s one key difference: many procrastinators are working, they’re just prioritizing work differently. They know they’re going to start their homework...they’re just going to do it later. 

Conversely, people who are unmotivated to do homework just can’t find the willpower to tackle their assignments. Procrastinators know they’ll at least attempt the homework at the last minute, whereas people who are unmotivated struggle with convincing themselves to do it at a ll. For procrastinators, the stress comes from the inevitable time crunch. For unmotivated people, the stress comes from trying to convince themselves to do something they don’t want to do in the first place. 

Here are some common reasons students are unmotivated in doing homework : 

  • Assignments are too easy, too hard, or seemingly pointless 
  • Students aren’t interested in (or passionate about) the subject matter
  • Students are intimidated by the work and/or feels like they don’t understand the assignment 
  • Homework isn’t fun, and students would rather spend their time on things that they enjoy 

To sum it up: people who lack motivation to do their homework are more likely to not do it at all, or to spend more time worrying about doing their homework than...well, actually doing it.

3 Tips for How to Get Motivated to Do Homework

The key to getting homework done when you’re unmotivated is to figure out what does motivate you, then apply those things to homework. It sounds tricky...but it’s pretty simple once you get the hang of it! Here are our three expert tips for motivating yourself to do your homework. 

#1: Use Incremental Incentives

When you’re not motivated, it’s important to give yourself small rewards to stay focused on finishing the task at hand. The trick is to keep the incentives small and to reward yourself often. For example, maybe you’re reading a good book in your free time. For every ten minutes you spend on your homework, you get to read five pages of your book. Like we mentioned earlier, make sure you’re choosing a reward that works for you! 

So why does this technique work? Using small rewards more often allows you to experience small wins for getting your work done. Every time you make it to one of your tiny reward points, you get to celebrate your success, which gives your brain a boost of dopamine . Dopamine helps you stay motivated and also creates a feeling of satisfaction when you complete your homework !  

#2: Form a Homework Group 

If you’re having trouble motivating yourself, it’s okay to turn to others for support. Creating a homework group can help with this. Bring together a group of your friends or classmates, and pick one time a week where you meet and work on homework together. You don’t have to be in the same class, or even taking the same subjects— the goal is to encourage one another to start (and finish!) your assignments. 

Another added benefit of a homework group is that you can help one another if you’re struggling to understand the material covered in your classes. This is especially helpful if your lack of motivation comes from being intimidated by your assignments. Asking your friends for help may feel less scary than talking to your teacher...and once you get a handle on the material, your homework may become less frightening, too. 

#3: Change Up Your Environment 

If you find that you’re totally unmotivated, it may help if you find a new place to do your homework. For example, if you’ve been struggling to get your homework done at home, try spending an extra hour in the library after school instead. The change of scenery can limit your distractions and give you the energy you need to get your work done. 

If you’re stuck doing homework at home, you can still use this tip. For instance, maybe you’ve always done your homework sitting on your bed. Try relocating somewhere else, like your kitchen table, for a few weeks. You may find that setting up a new “homework spot” in your house gives you a motivational lift and helps you get your work done. 

body-focus-meme

Social media can be a huge problem when it comes to doing homework. We have advice for helping you unplug and regain focus.

How to Do Homework When You’re Easily Distracted

We live in an always-on world, and there are tons of things clamoring for our attention. From friends and family to pop culture and social media, it seems like there’s always something (or someone!) distracting us from the things we need to do.

The 24/7 world we live in has affected our ability to focus on tasks for prolonged periods of time. Research has shown that over the past decade, an average person’s attention span has gone from 12 seconds to eight seconds . And when we do lose focus, i t takes people a long time to get back on task . One study found that it can take as long as 23 minutes to get back to work once we’ve been distracte d. No wonder it can take hours to get your homework done! 

3 Tips to Improve Your Focus

If you have a hard time focusing when you’re doing your homework, it’s a good idea to try and eliminate as many distractions as possible. Here are three expert tips for blocking out the noise so you can focus on getting your homework done. 

#1: Create a Distraction-Free Environment

Pick a place where you’ll do your homework every day, and make it as distraction-free as possible. Try to find a location where there won’t be tons of noise, and limit your access to screens while you’re doing your homework. Put together a focus-oriented playlist (or choose one on your favorite streaming service), and put your headphones on while you work. 

You may find that other people, like your friends and family, are your biggest distraction. If that’s the case, try setting up some homework boundaries. Let them know when you’ll be working on homework every day, and ask them if they’ll help you keep a quiet environment. They’ll be happy to lend a hand! 

#2: Limit Your Access to Technology 

We know, we know...this tip isn’t fun, but it does work. For homework that doesn’t require a computer, like handouts or worksheets, it’s best to put all your technology away . Turn off your television, put your phone and laptop in your backpack, and silence notifications on any wearable tech you may be sporting. If you listen to music while you work, that’s fine...but make sure you have a playlist set up so you’re not shuffling through songs once you get started on your homework. 

If your homework requires your laptop or tablet, it can be harder to limit your access to distractions. But it’s not impossible! T here are apps you can download that will block certain websites while you’re working so that you’re not tempted to scroll through Twitter or check your Facebook feed. Silence notifications and text messages on your computer, and don’t open your email account unless you absolutely have to. And if you don’t need access to the internet to complete your assignments, turn off your WiFi. Cutting out the online chatter is a great way to make sure you’re getting your homework done. 

#3: Set a Timer (the Pomodoro Technique)

Have you ever heard of the Pomodoro technique ? It’s a productivity hack that uses a timer to help you focus!

Here’s how it works: first, set a timer for 25 minutes. This is going to be your work time. During this 25 minutes, all you can do is work on whatever homework assignment you have in front of you. No email, no text messaging, no phone calls—just homework. When that timer goes off, y ou get to take a 5 minute break. Every time you go through one of these cycles, it’s called a “pomodoro.” For every four pomodoros you complete, you can take a longer break of 15 to 30 minutes. 

The pomodoro technique works through a combination of boundary setting and rewards. First, it gives you a finite amount of time to focus, so you know that you only have to work really hard for 25 minutes. Once you’ve done that, you’re rewarded with a short break where you can do whatever you want. Additionally, tracking how many pomodoros you complete can help you see how long you’re really working on your homework. (Once you start using our focus tips, you may find it doesn’t take as long as you thought!) 

body-hand-number-two

Two Bonus Tips for How to Do Homework Fast 

Even if you’re doing everything right, there will be times when you just need to get your homework done as fast as possible. (Why do teachers always have projects due in the same week? The world may never know.) 

The problem with speeding through homework is that it’s easy to make mistakes. While turning in an assignment is always better than not submitting anything at all, you want to make sure that you’re not compromising quality for speed. Simply put, the goal is to get your homework done quickly and still make a good grade on the assignment! 

Here are our two bonus tips for getting a decent grade on your homework assignments , even when you’re in a time crunch. 

#1: Do the Easy Parts First 

This is especially true if you’re working on a handout with multiple questions. Before you start working on the assignment, read through all the questions and problems. As you do, make a mark beside the questions you think are “easy” to answer . 

Once you’ve finished going through the whole assignment, you can answer these questions first. Getting the easy questions out of the way as quickly as possible lets you spend more time on the trickier portions of your homework, which will maximize your assignment grade. 

(Quick note: this is also a good strategy to use on timed assignments and tests, like the SAT and the ACT !) 

#2: Pay Attention in Class 

Homework gets a lot easier when you’re actively learning the material. Teachers aren’t giving you homework because they’re mean or trying to ruin your weekend... it’s because they want you to really understand the course material. Homework is designed to reinforce what you’re already learning in class so you’ll be ready to tackle harder concepts later. 

When you pay attention in class, ask questions, and take good notes, you’re absorbing the information you’ll need to succeed on your homework assignments. (You’re stuck in class anyway, so you might as well make the most of it!) Not only will paying attention in class make your homework less confusing, it will also help it go much faster, too. 

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What’s Next? 

If you’re looking to improve your productivity beyond homework, a good place to begin is with time management. After all, we only have so much time in a day...so it’s important to get the most out of it! To get you started, check out this list of the 12 best time management techniques that you can start using today.

You may have read this article because homework struggles have been affecting your GPA. Now that you’re on the path to homework success, it’s time to start being proactive about raising your grades. This article teaches you everything you need to know about raising your GPA so you can

Now you know how to get motivated to do homework...but what about your study habits? Studying is just as critical to getting good grades, and ultimately getting into a good college . We can teach you how to study bette r in high school. (We’ve also got tons of resources to help you study for your ACT and SAT exams , too!) 

Need more help with this topic? Check out Tutorbase!

Our vetted tutor database includes a range of experienced educators who can help you polish an essay for English or explain how derivatives work for Calculus. You can use dozens of filters and search criteria to find the perfect person for your needs.

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Ashley Sufflé Robinson has a Ph.D. in 19th Century English Literature. As a content writer for PrepScholar, Ashley is passionate about giving college-bound students the in-depth information they need to get into the school of their dreams.

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  • Headache: First aid

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While most headaches are minor, some warn of a serious problem. Here's when to worry about a headache.

Most headaches are minor, and you can treat them with a pain reliever. Some headaches, however, signal a dangerous or serious medical problem. Don't ignore headaches that aren't explained or headaches that steadily worsen.

Get immediate medical attention if your headache:

  • Develops suddenly and severely.
  • Persists for several days.
  • Causes mental confusion or loss of consciousness.
  • Happens with seizures.

Immediate medical attention also is needed if your headache occurs with new:

  • Dizziness or loss of balance.
  • Weakness or paralysis, such as in the arms or legs.
  • Difficulty speaking or understanding speech.
  • Reddened eye.

Also seek medical attention if your headache:

  • Occurs with a fever, stiff neck or rash.
  • Is accompanied by changes in vision, such as blurring or seeing halos around lights.
  • Is serious and follows a recent sore throat or respiratory infection.
  • Begins or worsens after a head injury, fall or bump.
  • Is triggered by changing the position of your head, coughing, sneezing, bending or physical activity.
  • Is a different type of headache from your usual type and you're older than 50.
  • Walls RM, et al., eds. Headache. In: Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 10th ed. Elsevier; 2023. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Feb. 2, 2023.
  • Approach to the patient with headache. Merck Manual Professional Version. https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/neurologic-disorders/headache/approach-to-the-patient-with-headache?qt=headache&alt=sh. Accessed Feb. 2, 2023.
  • South-Paul JE, et al., eds. Evaluation and management of headache. In: Current Diagnosis & Treatment: Family Medicine. 5th ed. McGraw Hill; 2020. https://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com. Accessed Feb. 2, 2023.
  • Togha M, et al., eds. Approach to a patient with headache. In: Headache and Migraine in Practice. Elsevier; 2022. https://sciencedirect.com. Accessed Feb. 2, 2023.
  • Stroke signs and symptoms. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/stroke/signs_symptoms.htm. Accessed Feb. 2, 2023.
  • Kissoon NR (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic. Feb. 4, 2023.

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Oh, my aching head: Tips for headache relief

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Whether they're pounding, pulsing or piercing, headaches are a pain. They can slow you down or even bring you to a complete stop.

There are several types of headaches, and knowing your type can be the first step in effectively treating it. Also, good health habits are important in preventing or minimizing your headache risk.

Know your headache type

Not all headaches are the same. It's important to identify the type of headache you're experiencing to pick the right treatment and possibly prevent them in the future.

The most common headache types are:

  • Tension These are the most common headaches and cause dull and achy pain. They may include a sensation of tightness or pressure across your forehead or on the sides and back of your head. Stress, neck pain, missed meals, dehydration and other factors can bring them on.
  • Migraine These headaches cause severe, throbbing pain, usually on one side of the head. They're often accompanied by nausea, vomiting or increased sensitivity to light and sound. The pain may worsen with increased activity. Untreated, a migraine can last up to three days.
  • Cluster These severe headaches are rare and can occur on and off for weeks at a time. The pain often is focused around one eye or side of the head. Cluster headaches begin quickly and reach maximum intensity in minutes. Then, they stop for a period — months or even years — before striking again.

Often, identifying headache types is challenging. You may have a less-common type of headache. Your healthcare team can help determine if your headache is a primary headache not caused by another medical condition, or a secondary headache, which is caused by an underlying health condition.

Common headache treatments

There's no one-size-fits-all treatment for headaches, since each type may have different approaches, and each person responds to treatment differently. It may take some experimenting to find out what works for you.

Some treatments include:

  • Over-the-counter pain relievers Aspirin, ibuprofen and acetaminophen may do the trick for tension headaches and migraines. However, it's important to use these in moderation as persistent use can lead to medication overuse headaches, also called rebound headaches.
  • Prescription medications Several prescription medications can be used to treat migraines and the accompanying nausea. Some medicines can be taken to prevent migraines. Some of these medications also work on cluster headaches.
  • Oxygen Breathing pure oxygen effectively treats cluster headaches for many people.

While common treatments work for most people, some may not find adequate relief and must pursue other treatment options like injections or nerve stimulation. Talk with a healthcare professional that specializes in headache medicine.

Headache prevention

Many lifestyle factors can affect the likelihood of developing tension headaches and migraines. Managing those factors not only can help you avoid pain but also have other health benefits.

Try these prevention strategies to reduce your headache risk:

  • Exercise. Aerobic exercise releases tension and stress that can contribute to developing headaches.
  • Get enough sleep. Aim for enough sleep — seven to nine hours for adults — and try to go to bed and get up at the same time each day.
  • Limit caffeine and alcohol. Too much caffeine and alcohol can cause headaches.
  • Know your food triggers. Certain foods, such as chocolate, aged cheese, processed meats and foods containing gluten, may trigger migraines.
  • Stress less. Find healthy ways to manage the stress in your life. That may mean scheduling time with friends, taking a yoga class or setting healthy boundaries.

Chronic headaches can be extremely distressing. It's exhausting to live with pain. Talk with your healthcare team about treatment options that can make a difference.

Next steps:

  • Download a headache diary to share with your healthcare team.
  • Read a Q&A about headaches .
  • Discover six tips for headache relief .
  • Get the facts about headache medication .
  • Find out how Botox is used as a treatment for chronic migraines .

Brian Burroughs is a physician assistant in Family Medicine , with special interest in headache treatment, in Red Wing , Minnesota.

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Headaches: three tips from a neuroscientist on how to get rid of them

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Professor of Neuroscience, Durham University

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Everyone experiences headaches. From dull throbbing dehydration headaches to incapacitating migraines, a sore head is an extremely common complaint. This is perhaps especially true at the moment. COVID-19 can cause them , as can sitting at desks for too long and not getting out of the house enough.

When headaches strike, many people’s reaction is to reach for a painkiller. And these can do the job. But a better solution is often to probe the reasons behind the pain – especially if you get similar types of headaches a lot.

Even though they all entail pain, where the pain is can clue us into what type of headache we are experiencing. Pain in the face and forehead are markers of sinus-related headache whilst the sensation of a pneumatic drill somewhere in our cranium is often migraine .

Illustration of four different types of headache – migraine, sinus, tension and cluster – on green background.

But ultimately, all headaches are caused by vasodilation in the head – the widening of blood vessels near the brain. This stretches sensory receptors in the vessel wall and we feel that sensation as pain.

To understand why we need to think about the constraints the contents of our head are working under. Blood is toxic to brain tissue and so is kept separate through the blood-brain barrier. If a blood vessel leaks or breaks, this results in a haemorrhage and the death of the brain tissue the blood seeps into. So, if our blood vessels dilate beyond comfortable limits, the sensory receptors will fire off signals to the brain, which we interpret as pain.

Headaches are an early warning system. The best way to counteract them is to work out what they are warning us about.

1. Think beyond your head

how to do homework with a headache

This means thinking beyond your head. Yes, headache pain is generated somewhere in our head and we feel it in our head and that is why it is called headache. But headache is so much more than that – which is why I’m fascinated by them, have studied them for the past 20 years and recently published a book on the subject.

It’s a two-way street. The cause of our headache can sometimes come from our body or our behaviour. And of course headaches affect both our body and our behaviour. If we see headache as something isolated to our cranium then we will never truly understand its cause, our experience of it, or how we can best mitigate it.

Frequent migraine sufferers intimately understand this and often religiously track their food intake and their activities as well as the weather in order to work out what triggers them. But the normal headache sufferer is often less in tune with the causes of their pain.

Tension headache is a really good example of how this works. It feels like a tight band squeezing around your head with a tonne weight sitting on top for good measure. We are all aware of their occurrence at times of great emotional stress (lockdown homeschooling anyone?) but they can equally be caused by the stress we put on our body, with bad posture for example, or recovery from injury.

Both entail over-activity of the musculature around the head and neck, which sets up an inflammatory response involving prostaglandins and nitric oxide, both of which are chemicals that act to widen blood vessels. Inflammatory chemicals also directly activate the trigeminal nerve – the most complex of the cranial nerves and the one responsible for sensation and movement in the face.

Taking too many things on, rushing around trying to get things done in negative time, and trying to be all things to all people are common behavioural markers that will predict a tension headache. That and the actions we take when the pain begins.

Woman sitting at desk clutches her neck and back in pain.

2. Listen to the pain

If you have a pain in your leg, it might stop you from playing in that tennis match or turning up for five-a-side football. You know that if you play on it, you might do more damage and your recovery will take longer. But we don’t tend to do that with headache. We take a painkiller or an anti-inflammatory and carry on as normal even though our pain receptors are screaming at us that there is something wrong.

Taking paracetamol or ibuprofen will act to avert the danger, reducing the inflammation, the dilation and the perception of pain, but the headache will reoccur unless we can address the cause. Sometimes it’s obvious – if you have a sinus headache you’re just going to have to wait for your sinuses to clear, so taking a painkiller or a decongestant may be a good approach – but sometimes our coping strategy can make things worse.

We may decide a bottle of wine and a takeaway is just the kind of treat we need to relax and de-stress. But both lead to dehydration, another ubiquitous cause of headache. With your brain made of more than 70% water, if your kidneys need borrow some to dilute alcohol or salts and spices, it usually comes from this oasis. The brain loses water such that it literally shrinks in volume, tugging on the membranes covering the brain and triggering pain.

3. Use the brain’s natural painkillers

So what else can we do? One way is to lean into the brain’s natural painkiller system and to boost neurochemicals associated with happiness (such as serotonin and oxytocin) and reward (dopamine). Having a laugh at a comedy, enjoying a good friend’s company or indulging in some intimacy with a partner will all boost these hormones to various degrees.

Each block pain signals coming from the body, not only helping you get a handle on your headache but also redressing the balance of neurochemicals that were the mechanism of your upset emotional state.

The knowledge that we can leverage our behaviour and our body to keep our brain’s neurochemicals in balance gives us a way to break the headache cycle. So next time you have a headache for which the causes aren’t glaringly obvious – you’re not otherwise sick and you’ve been keeping hydrated – take a look at your life and see what you can change there. The pain, after all, is trying to tell you something.

  • Painkillers

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Dr Vanessa Lapointe

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5 remedies for homework headaches.

  • October 2, 2015
  • Homework , Parenting , School

Every parent has been there. Your child comes home, exhausted after a long day, and you give them a snack, let them have some downtime, sit down to dinner, and then…it’s time to hit the books for them – again!

They don’t want to do it. You don’t want to do it. And depending on what your child is working on, you may not even actually understand what it is that they are supposed to be doing.

So how are you meant to help them with it?

Which raises another question – are you meant to help them with it or should you just leave them to land where they land with whatever they can figure out?

5 Remedies for Homework Headaches

Navigating such homework headaches requires a bit of awareness and a lot of patience. But it is possible.

Here are some tried and true strategies that may be just what the homework-headache doctor ordered!

1. Connect first. Homework second.

The child’s brain is wired in a unique way. It is a brain that has to feel like you are on the same page with the child in order for the child to actually cooperate with what you are about to ask of them. So in the service of that unique wiring, spend some time connecting with your child after school before dropping the homework bomb on them. Play, hang, relax, eat…do something with a real connection energy about it and zero expectations tied to it. And then shift to homework.

2. Stay low.

If you are getting frustrated, evenly silently about your child’s homework, they will sense it. They will smell it coming out of your pores and it will all be over before it has hardly begun. So you have to stay low. And if you can’t then you need to sit with yourself about what is really at the root of your frustration and address that. Is it because you remember what it was to struggle as a student yourself? Is it because you worry your child is falling behind? Is it because you don’t want the judgment of being a bad parent? Is it because you want to save your child from a bad grade? Figure that out. And then address it. Be conscious of it. Move beyond it.

3. Outsource as needed.

Sometimes homework is a battle that parents might wisely decide not to enter into. And that is okay. Especially if your relationship with your child has a lot of other battles already due to sensitivity or other challenging kinds of things. Get creative about finding nurturing substitutes for you in your “village” that can come alongside and support your child with their homework. Know any retired math teachers? Know a high school student you could hire a couple of afternoons a week?

4. Supporting versus rescuing – know where you need to land.

If children always have parents rushing in to get the homework done, the student doesn’t get to have the experience of being successful with rocking out a hard assignment. Ever. And it robs them of the chance to find their stride and their confidence as a learner. On the other hand, if a student is drowning because of stress, learning exceptionalities, lack of understanding, or for any other reason, the humane thing to do is find a little more of your rescuer coming alongside. Maybe you help more than you would otherwise. Maybe you intervene to ask for an extension. Knowing how to balance rescuer verses supporter HAS to come from knowing your child in that moment, on that day, in that circumstance.

5. Keep it real.

If a homework assignment for a student has come down to whether or not YOU happen to be a Nobel Prize winner in physics or a world renowned artist then we’ve got a problem. And it might be worth a conversation with your child’s teacher or even a school administrator about skewed baselines or extraordinary expectations.

The best kind of learning comes from that which is: (a) within a student’s reach, even if barely; and (b) experiential, with the student being able to link the concept at hand to other knowledge and ideas.

Projects that have a student drowning or that get out of hand with the show-off factor, becoming a competition among parents rather than a true feat of learning, need a serious hard look by all involved.

And sometimes, we need to just be fierce about the things we know to be good and true.

Dr V

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Top 10 Ways to Avoid or Reduce Headache and Migraine Pain

Headaches and migraines can be debilitating, but there are numerous ways you can reduce the pain or even eliminate it.

These include simple management and prevention strategies and learning more about your condition and how it affects you.

This article includes ways to lessen pain when it strikes, lifestyle changes that can help you prevent headaches and migraines, and some helpful things to do between attacks.

Create a Soothing Environment

milos-kreckovic / Getty Images

Light and noise can aggravate headaches and migraines. When your pain strikes, try to create a calm, dark, quiet space. If possible, sleep or at least rest and relax as much as you can.

You may find that soothing sounds can relax you while also blocking out aggravating noises like traffic or the buzz of electronics. Try a fan, soft nature sounds, or calming music. Lots of apps and online videos offer sounds designed to counter migraines.

Some essential oils, used for aromatherapy, may help ease head pain or be soothing. However, fragrance sensitivities cause headaches in some people, so make sure you're not sensitive to them before you try them to treat a headache.

Essential oils with some scientific evidence for helping headaches or migraines include:

  • Angelicae Dahuricae Radix
  • Chuanxiong Rhizoma

Use Heat or Cold

Motortion / Getty Images

Hot or cold packs or a hot bath or shower may help by relaxing or numbing your muscles.

Cold applied to the forehead and temples is common choice for migraines . Heat, applied all over or on the neck/back of head, is more popular among people with tension headaches .

Wearable heating and cooling packs and other devices are available. Topical products like Icy Hot may also help.

Use Caution

Be sure not to expose your skin to extreme heat or cold. Limit the length of time you use heating and cooling products. Put a towel or piece of fabric between your skin and a cold pack. Only use ice for 15 minutes, then take at least 15 minutes off before applying again.

Caffeinate?

Grace Cary / Getty Images

Research shows that caffeine can sometimes help with a headache or migraine. But it can also trigger them.

A 2017 study showed 130 milligrams (mg) of caffeine makes painkillers work better against tension-type headaches. You can get that amount in 2 ounces of espresso, a 12-ounce cup of coffee, or some energy drinks.

Tea and soda typically contain lower levels of caffeine. So you'd need several servings to reach 130 mg.

Some headache medications include caffeine, as well.

However, if you consume caffeine regularly, the effects may diminish over time. Also, caffeine withdrawal often causes a headache.

Caffeine may be a trigger for chronic daily headache (CDH) in some people, though. People who have occasional migraines are more likely to develop CDH when they take in caffeine on a daily basis.

It may be worth experimenting to see if caffeine aggravates or relieves your headaches.

Make Time to Relax

Burst / Pexels

Relaxation can help during a headache or migraine, and regular relaxation exercises may help stave off attacks, as well. They take practice, so don't wait until the pain comes on to start.

Set aside a period of time every day that's dedicated to relaxation. You can use this time to:

  • Listen to a relaxation or meditation app
  • Do yoga or tai chi
  • Take a bubble bath
  • Sit quietly doing nothing

Use this time to focus on you, how you’re feeling, and what you need. This self-care will pay off, leaving you more relaxed and aware of yourself.

Get Plenty of Sleep

Tara Moore / Getty Images

Too much, too little, or disrupted sleep is a very common trigger of headache and migraine. Experts recommend that you set times to go to bed and get up, and then stick to those times, even on weekends and during vacation.

If you don't feel rested after a night's sleep or you experience excessive daytime sleepiness, talk to your healthcare provider about having a sleep study to rule out sleep disorders .

Eat Well and Often

Sveta Zarzamora / Getty Images

When you skip meals, your blood sugar can plummet , potentially triggering or contributing to a headache or migraine. So you should make sure to eat regularly, even if you're just grabbing a snack (and even if your hectic schedule makes this difficult).

Replacing processed foods with fresh alternatives that reduce inflammation can go a long way in preventing head pain. A short-term elimination diet can also help you identify any dietary triggers, such as fast food, which may contribute to headaches in some people.

Wear Sunglasses

Aleksandar Nakic / Getty Images

Consider sunglasses as an investment, not just a throwaway summer fashion accessory. Proper shades can help prevent headaches and migraines.

Optical-grade lenses don’t have the distortion that some inexpensive lenses have, and polarization is essential for cutting glare. Wear them whenever the light is bothersome, even if it's indoors.

Add a baseball cap when light comes in above the sunglasses so the cap's bill can block that light. Your eyes (and your head) will thank you.

Don't Get Dehydrated

Yacobchuk / Getty Images

To avoid headaches and migraine, you should make sure to stay hydrated. For some people, even mild dehydration can trigger head pain , so drinking lots of fluids is essential.

Water is best. Some fruit juices and caffeinated drinks can trigger headaches and migraines.

Proper hydration is essential to good health in general, so you’ll be working on more than just head pain prevention by doing this.

Manage Your Stress

Halfpoint / Getty Images

So what if there's an undone load of laundry, a few dishes in the sink, or a couple of minor household repairs awaiting your attention? Stop worrying—the house almost certainly won't fall down around you. 

Stress can trigger tension headaches and contribute to migraines, so try your best not to stress over the small stuff. Learn to prioritize and do what you're able to do each day without stressing.

Watch Your Overall Health

When you have a particular health problem such as headaches or migraines, it’s easy to concentrate on that problem and ignore your overall health. Don’t fall into this trap.

Good overall health is essential when you're struggling with any specific health problem. If you stay generally healthy, you may even help yourself contain your head pain.

An important component of both good health and pain management is regular exercise. So is maintaining a healthy weight, as being overweight increases the risk of chronic headaches.

BONUS: Learn and Build

Stokpic / Pexels

Between attacks is a good time to educate yourself and build a support system to help you through the next one.

  • Educate yourself on head pain causes , symptoms, and treatments. It'll allow you to better care for yourself and understand what your healthcare provider says about your condition and treatment.
  • Keep a daily headache and migraine diary including what you eat, activities, and other factors that may lead to head pain. It can take up to 48 hours for a trigger to cause a headache or migraine, so a careful diary may help reveal patterns.
  • Find a support group in your community or online so you have understanding people to vent to and learn from. You'll feel less alone and could pick up valuable information.

Things that can help fight headache and migraine pain right away include dim lighting, silence or soothing sounds, aromatherapy, heat or ice, and caffeine (for some people).

Beneficial lifestyle changes to prevent headaches include getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, wearing sunglasses, staying hydrated, managing your stress, staying active, and maintaining good overall health.

It also helps to learn about your condition, identify your triggers, and find a support system.

National Headache Institute. Does sound therapy actually help relieve migraines?

Yuan R, Zhang D, Yang J, et al. Review of aromatherapy essential oils and their mechanism of action against migraines .  J Ethnopharmacol . 2021;265:113326. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2020.113326

National Headache Foundation News. Hot and cold packs/showers .

Lipton RB, Diener HC, Robbins MS, Garas SY, Patel K. Caffeine in the management of patients with headache .  J Headache Pain . 2017;18(1):107. doi:10.1186/s10194-017-0806-2

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Spilling the beans: How much caffeine is too much?

American Migraine Foundation. Caffeine and migraine .

Harvard Medical School, Harvard Health Publishing. 4 ways to tame tension headaches .

The Migraine Trust. Sleep and migraine .

Dalkara T, Kiliç K. How does fasting trigger migraine? A hypothesis . Curr Pain Headache Rep . 2013 Oct;17(10):368. doi: 10.1007/s11916-013-0368-1. PMID: 23996724.

Huang J, Zong X, Wilkins A, Jenkins B, Bozoki A, Cao Y. fMRI evidence that precision ophthalmic tints reduce cortical hyperactivation in migraine .  Cephalalgia . 2011;31(8):925-936. doi:10.1177/0333102411409076

American Migraine Foundation. What is migraine?

The Migraine Trust. Common triggers .

May A, Schulte LH. Chronic migraine: risk factors, mechanisms and treatment .  Nat Rev Neurol . 2016;12(8):455-464. doi:10.1038/nrneurol.2016.93

American Migraine Foundation. The timeline of a migraine attack .

By Teri Robert  Teri Robert is a writer, patient educator, and patient advocate focused on migraine and headaches.

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Good Advice On How To Do Homework With A Headache

When you have a headache, the last thing that you want to do is complete your homework. It is something that can cause a head ache all by itself. There are some ways to get the job done even when the light is making your brain feel like a ticking time bomb.

There are some methods that will help you concentrate on what you have to do so that you can get it done as quickly as possible. Nobody knows why you get headaches and there are not any particular things that work right away so there are times when you will just have to work through them. You don’t have the luxury of waiting until it goes away to get it done. Here are some of the best ways to get the job done even when your head feels like it could be split in two.

  • Always complete your homework at a desk free of debris. It should be well lit so that you can see what you are reading clearly. When you are concentrating too hardly on the letters, the squinting will not make your pain any better.
  • Stay hydrated. Grab a large glass of water that is not too cold so that you can drink it quickly. Hydration will help the head ache. Plus, the time it will take you to go fill your cup can be used as a mini break.
  • Utilize your resources to help you. You don’t have to rely on your memory alone. You can utilize the notes that you took in class, your handouts, and your text book to help you complete the assignments. When you are not feeling good, you have a harder time remembering and the answers may be right in front of you and you are struggling to retrieve them from your memory.
  • Take frequent breaks. Make sure they are short so that you don’t get too off track. Having to focus your attention for longer periods of time will not help the situation but if you take breaks that are too long, you will be there forever.
  • Work in a quiet place. Additional noise will cause a distraction that will make it harder to concentrate and make your headache even worse. Complete your work without the television or radio on.

It won’t be easy to complete your homework when you have a headache, but these suggestions will make it at least bearable.

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how to do homework with a headache

Headaches and Migraines

Nearly all headaches experienced by college students are Tension-type headaches (TTHs). TTHs may be caused by tightening muscles in the back of the neck and/or scalp. It is no surprise that these headaches are the most common type among college students as students are constantly sitting in strained positions (e.g., sitting in uncomfortable lecture chairs while hunching over a book to catch up on readings).

Student Wellness Centre Jun 15, 2023

Tension-type Headaches

Three types of tension-type headaches.

  • Episodic: infrequent and random – less than one day a month
  • Frequent – 1-14 days a month
  • Chronic – more than 15 days a month
  • Typically, a dull, aching, and non-pulsating pain on both sides of the head
  • Head, neck, and shoulder muscle tenderness
  • Pain that occurs in the forehead, temples, or the back of the head and/or neck
  • Stress and/or anxiety
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Skipping meals
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Anger and/or depression
  • Eye, neck, or back strain

Episodic Tension-type Headaches

This type of headache can be treated with over-the-counter analgesics such as aspirin, Tylenol, Advil, or Aleve. If ineffective on its own, you can add a small dose of caffeine. A warm pack on the neck may also relieve the headache.

Frequent/Chronic Tension-type Headaches

See a health professional for diagnosis and consideration of preventive treatment such as amitriptyline (an anticonvulsant). They are used because they have an analgesic (pain killer) property. Some may be prescribed for those who have sleep disturbances.

Migraine Headaches

Genetics play a role in migraine headaches. If one of your parents suffers from migraines you have a 25-50% chance of getting migraines. That increases to 70% if both of your parents suffer from migraines. (webmd.com)

Migraine headaches can last from hours to days and frequency can vary depending on triggers.

Migraine headache symptoms may include: nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light, noise, and odors.

Women experience migraine headaches more often than men. This may be caused by the woman’s menstrual cycle. 60% of female migraine sufferers can relate the attack to their menstrual cycle. (nhf.com)

Initially, try to treat your migraine with an OTC pain (e.g., Advil or Tylenol) and an anti-nausea (e.g., Gravol) medication. If those do not work see a health care professional to discuss options. You may be prescribed triptans (to constrict blood vessels) or preventive medication like beta-blockers. Cold packs can be used on the forehead and temples. Apply for 15 minutes at a time with 15 minute breaks in between.

“Sinus Headaches”

“Sinus headaches” can refer to headaches caused by acute sinusitis (inflammation of the sinuses). These are associated with nasal congestion, nasal discharge, fever, pain, and tenderness over the affected sinus, with a deep dull ache that is exaggerated by head movements. A health care professional should be seen if you think you are experiencing a sinus infection as they will need to determine the proper course of action.

Cluster Headaches

Cluster headaches have severe, debilitating pain on one side of the head and are often present with a watery eye, nasal congestion, or a runny nose on the same side of the face. Cluster headaches appear suddenly and can recur for weeks or months, then disappear for months or years.

Treatment for cluster headaches should be reviewed with a health care professional. They will start medication therapy as early as possible after the headache appears to reduce the length of the cluster period and decrease the severity of the headaches.

Medications can include corticosteroids and antiepileptics (anti-seizure). Over-the-counter (OTC) medications have little effect. These medications are slowly tapered off and then discontinued as the headaches decrease and disappear.

Tips for Headache Relief

  • Take frequent breaks while studying to give your eyes, neck, and back a break.
  • Use an ergonomic chair.
  • Use a non-glare screen over your computer.
  • Pain medications are more effective at the beginning, so take medication as soon as possible.
  • Have caffeine in moderation (maximum: 400 mg per day) as caffeine withdrawal causes headaches.
  • Eat something or drink something high in sugar
  • Hydrate with water
  • Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water.
  • Maintain regular sleep (at least seven hours per night).
  • Eat a meal or snack every 3-4 waking hours.
  • Practice deep breathing exercises, yoga, or meditation to help relax and relieve daily stress and anxiety.
  • Have a neck massage to help with muscle tension.
  • Monitor time spent in front of a TV/computer screen and reduce it if you are experiencing headaches.
  • www.webmd.com
  • National Headache Foundation

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Is Working From Home Giving You a Headache or Migraine Attack?

Becky Upham

For people with jobs that allow it, working from home has become mainstream in recent years. While most Americans don’t have a job that can be done remotely, among those who do have these jobs, 35 percent work from home all the time, and 41 percent work from home on some days, according to the Pew Research Center .

Working from home can have its perks (attending meetings in sweatpants, anyone?), but sometimes trying to get work done in your home environment can be a headache — literally.

“My experience, and what I’ve heard from other physicians, is that a lot of people are reporting worsening of their tension headaches and migraine ” when working from home more often, says Katherine Hamilton, MD , a neurologist and headache specialist at MedStar Health in Washington, DC.

“I think there are numerous reasons that we’re seeing that,” Dr. Hamilton adds.

Too Much Screen Time May Mean More Frequent Headaches

Working from home and attending meetings virtually, rather than in person, can mean spending almost the entire workday looking at a screen — in addition to the screen time you log when you’re not at work.

For people who work from home, “the average person is spending more than 13 hours on digital devices during the course of a day,” says Paul Karpecki, OD , a member of the vision health advisory board at Eyesafe, a company that develops technology to filter out blue light from electronic displays.

“If you have any potential issue that can cause headaches, it’s more likely to come out in a situation like that, where you put that much strain on the system,” Dr. Karpecki adds.

Both migraine attacks and tension headaches — the most common type of headache — can be triggered by environmental factors and changes in your routine, according to Hamilton. Migraine attacks tend to be more debilitating, with symptoms such as throbbing pain, nausea , and sensitivity to light and sound.

It’s estimated that between 85 and 90 percent of people with migraine experience sensitivity to light, particularly the blue-tinted light that’s most commonly emitted from phone and computer screens, according to the American Migraine Foundation .

There are a few things you can do if you think extra screen time is giving you more headaches, says Karpecki.

  • Try to limit your screen time to daylight hours. Research shows that exposure to blue light can change your natural circadian rhythm and disrupt your sleep schedule .
  • Consider using technology like Eyesafe — in a screen protector, for example — that filters out blue light.
  • Give your eyes a chance to relax by periodically (every 20 minutes or so) moving your gaze to something farther away, which can reduce eyestrain.
  • Take occasional breaks to keep your eyes moist. Blink rates go down about 75 percent when we’re on digital devices, says Karpecki.

RELATED: That Burning Sensation in Your Eyes? It May Be CVS, Computer Vision Syndrome

Poor Positioning or Posture Can Cause Tension

Many people don’t have an ideal home office setup with a properly positioned keyboard and computer monitor, Hamilton notes. That can mean poor body positioning or posture, which can increase the likelihood of a migraine attack or tension-type headache. “When you’re on your laptop, you can end up hunching forward more, which can lead to tension in your neck and shoulders,” she says.

Optimizing the ergonomics (positioning or layout) of your home office to make it more comfortable and to encourage better posture can go a long way, says Hamilton. “Ideally, you want to have a setup where you are able to take an upright posture so you’re able to look straight ahead at your computer if you can,” she says. That may mean adjusting your desk or table, or using books or other props to get optimum positioning. “This can help you avoid the position where your head is forward and your shoulders are hunched,” Hamilton notes.

Even if your posture is great, taking breaks to stretch is a good idea, especially for your shoulder and neck muscles, she adds.

RELATED: How to Beat ‘Tech Neck’ — and Why It’s So Bad for Your Health

Lack of Sleep and Changes in Diet Can Trigger Migraine Attacks

Departures from your normal routine can be a big factor in headaches and migraine attacks, Hamilton notes. “I explain to my patients that the migraine brain likes things to be as steady and stable as possible, which can be especially challenging” for some people who work from home, she says.

“For example, if you’re not going into the office, you may be going to bed and getting up at different times and sleeping too much or too little,” Hamilton adds. Both too little and too much sleep can trigger a headache.

Changes in meal schedules and caffeine intake can be an issue too, according to Hamilton. She advises people to establish a regular routine for sleeping, eating, and exercising when working from home. “It’s okay if that routine is not exactly the same as what you did before you worked from home. The idea is just to maintain it consistently,” she says. Hamilton suggests the following tips to reduce the likelihood of a migraine attack and improve your overall well-being.

  • Go to bed and wake up around the same time.
  • If you drink coffee, keep your intake consistent from one day to the next, and make sure it’s not interfering with your ability to sleep at night.
  • Have regular meals at around the same time every day.
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day.

RELATED: 6 Smart Tips for Staying Hydrated Throughout the Day

Could Something in My House Be Giving Me a Headache?

Migraine attacks and headaches can be triggered by things in your environment, so it’s possible that something in your house is part of the problem. Here are some possibilities to investigate.

  • Check the light. Migraine attacks are often associated with photophobia , or light sensitivity. If you’re experiencing photophobia, avoid fluorescent or flickering lights. Even bright natural light can be bothersome, so if you’re sensitive to it, you may want to keep your window blinds at least partially closed during the brightest times of the day.
  • Eliminate strong odors. Any strong odor, from scented soaps, lotions, or candles, perfumes, cleaning products, cigarette smoke, and even foods can trigger a migraine attack , or headache . To avoid bothersome odors, purchase unscented personal care and household products whenever possible, and ask the members of your household to do the same.
  • Beware of dry air and dehydration. Indoor heating can dry out the air you’re breathing and dehydrate you as well, and headache and dizziness can be symptoms of dehydration .

RELATED: Why Dehydration Is Still a Risk During the Wintertime

How Do I Get Immediate Relief From a Headache?

No medication can take away the pain of a migraine attack or tension-type headache 100 percent of the time, but there are many effective treatment options. Talk with your doctor about which therapy will safely relieve your pain as quickly as possible so that you can return to work and the activities you enjoy.

  • Analgesics and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can provide short-term relief for tension headaches and migraine pain, and they usually don’t require a prescription. These include medications such as aspirin , ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) , and acetaminophen (Tylenol) . While they are generally safe to use to treat short, acute headaches, they should not be taken for chronic pain without discussing their use with your healthcare team.
  • Triptans are a class of prescription drugs that were developed to treat migraine attacks. If you feel an attack coming on, these drugs will be more effective if you take them early, while the pain is still moderate, according to the American Migraine Foundation .
  • Gepants and ditans are newer kinds of acute migraine medications that target very specific receptors on sensory nerves. They may offer an alternative to people who can’t take triptans or don’t benefit from them.
  • Integrative and complementary therapies such as acupuncture , physical therapy, mind-body approaches like mindfulness, and certain supplements have various degrees of evidence and safety profiles supporting their use for the management of tension headaches and migraine symptoms .

RELATED: How to Get Rid of a Headache or Migraine Attack Fast

Physical Activity May Reduce Stress and Headaches

Hamilton recommends that her patients with migraine get regular exercise, which can decrease stress as well as improve sleep and mood.

“Physical activity can have benefits if people have a lot of neck tension or tension-type headaches. Activities like yoga can loosen up the muscles and help you relax,” she says.

If you can’t get out and run or walk, try to take advantage of the various online tips, videos, and other resources for exercise to help you keep moving and stick with a routine, Hamilton suggests. “I recommend a half hour or so of exercise at least five times a week if possible,” she says.

How Do I Tell My Boss I Have a Headache Disorder?

Headaches and migraine attacks are among the top reasons why people miss work. According to the World Health Organization , migraine on its own is the sixth-biggest cause worldwide of years lost due to disability, and headache disorders collectively are third highest.

If you need to take some time off to cope with a headache or migraine attack, the wellness community website Migraine Again suggests that you briefly explain your diagnosis to your work supervisor, and state that you plan to resume your work and make up for what you missed as soon as your symptoms subside.

If you are regularly missing work and you have three or more severe migraine days a month, talk with your healthcare provider. You may be a candidate to take a preventive medication .

Let your boss know that you are making lifestyle modifications and working on a treatment plan with your primary care doctor or neurologist. Your employer may be more understanding when you do need to take time off for a migraine attack if they know that you’re being proactive about preventing and treating attacks.

Additional reporting by Quinn Phillips .

Editorial Sources and Fact-Checking

Everyday Health follows strict sourcing guidelines to ensure the accuracy of its content, outlined in our editorial policy . We use only trustworthy sources, including peer-reviewed studies, board-certified medical experts, patients with lived experience, and information from top institutions.

  • Parker K. About a Third of U.S. Workers Who Can Work From Home Now Do So All the Time. Pew Research Center . March 30, 2023.
  • Photophobia (Light Sensitivity) and Migraine. American Migraine Foundation . December 21, 2017.
  • Tähkämö L et al. Systematic Review of Light Exposure Impact on Human Circadian Rhythm. Chronobiology International . October 12, 2018.
  • Oral and Intranasal Triptans for Migraine. American Migraine Foundation . September 2, 2021.
  • Headache Disorders. World Health Organization . April 8, 2016.
  • Dumas P. Calling in Sick? Good Conversations About Migraine at Work. Migraine Again . June 1, 2022.

When a morning headache is more than just a headache (and when a doctor's visit may be in order)

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One reason our snooze button is always so tempting to push is that no one wants to exchange restful slumber for all the responsibilities and demands of yet another day. Even on a vacation or a lazy Sunday, many of us choose to spend as much time as we can delaying getting going as we prefer to lay in the comfort of our bed as long as possible. 

But sometimes waking up is greeted by a less-than-pleasant sensation: the pressure and pain of a morning headache. This is often related to either chronic migraine symptoms or the most common type of headache - a tension headache , says Dr. Amaal Starling, an associate professor of neurology at Mayo Clinic in Arizona. 

What does a morning headache feel like?

If your morning headache is caused by a migraine , it's likely to be accompanied by other symptoms such as a throbbing or pulsing sensation on one side of your head, sensitivity to light or sound (bright beams of morning sunlight can be especially off-putting), or feelings of nausea or confusion. 

If it's a tension-type headache, you're going to wake up feeling a more subdued but often still intense pain on both sides of your head - sometimes described as pressure encircling the head as if a headband was worn too tightly. Some people also feel like their temples are especially tender or are at the center of the pain. 

Regardless of the type of headache you're experiencing, it can helpful to remember that "a headache in itself is not a diagnosis, but we can rather think of this as a word that describes the pain we are experiencing in that region," says Rashmi Halker-Singh, a neurologist and director of the headache medicine fellowship program at Mayo Clinic in Arizona. 

Such pain can be related to any number of factors. 

Why do I wake up with a headache?

Some causes or contributing factors of waking up with a headache could include sleeping in "a room temperature that's too high, dehydration , insomnia or because you drank too much caffeine throughout the day, known as a caffeine withdrawal," says Alexander Mauskop, director and founder of the New York Headache Center in Manhattan. This occurs when one's body becomes accustomed to caffeine and then doesn't get it for an extended period of time such as a full night's sleep.

Often the culprit of a morning headache stems from sleeping in a poor sleep position or "a pillow that could be too high," adds Mauskop. 

Having too much to drink the night before, often referred to as a hangover , can sometimes be another reason for waking up feeling dizzy and with a pounding headache. 

Is a morning headache ever a red flag? 

While such factors associated with morning headaches are relatively minor and represent only a few of more than 300 headache causes , there are times when a morning headache may be reason for concern. Mauskop says it may be worth a trip to the doctor visit if your morning headache is also accompanied by " loss of vision , numbness or weakness of a body part, fever or inability to function normally." He also said it's worth looking into any constantly recurring morning headaches or an unusually severe headache. 

A doctor's visit can help you get the care and relief you need while also helping rule out anything more serious. "When a person comes in to see a clinician with a headache, our first job is to determine if what they have is a primary headache or a secondary headache, where the headache is a symptom of something else," says Halker-Singh. "Meeting the patient and asking careful questions about symptoms is important to help us clarify this." 

More: A migraine is more than just a bad headache. Here's what causes them.

how to do homework with a headache

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Managing Headaches in the Workplace

March 15, 2018

Headache Support

workplace-headaches

There are a seemingly endless amount of headache triggers in the workplace. While simple lifestyle changes can do wonders in preventing these occurrences, you may also need to do a bit of planning ahead. Here are some tips to help strategize and manage headaches during the workday.

Eat Breakfast

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day not only for maintaining metabolism and appetite, but for preventing headaches. Dieting, fasting or skipping meals can all trigger a migraine due to alterations in blood-glucose levels. Consider planning breakfast and scheduling regular snacks for the workday. To prevent a hunger headache, it is suggested to eat a high protein meal regularly while avoiding high carbohydrate-containing foods .

Stay Hydrated

While dehydration may have many side effects, thirst can prompt a headache. Educating yourself on how dehydration can biologically trigger a headache can help you understand one of the origins of your pain. To avoid dehydration headaches, drink at least 8 ounces of water several times during the day. Caffeine may temporarily alleviate the pain but can create withdrawal symptoms, if used excessively, that include a reinforced headache. Maintaining a low intake of caffeinated beverages, such as soda, can help prevent reoccuring or amplified headaches. Avoiding coffee is also recommended as it is a diuretic that can further dehydrate you.

Communicate with Employees/Employers

Some migraine triggers may have a simple fix but some can be brought upon by others or the office environment. Sensory stimuli, such as smell, hearing and sight, can either activate or intensify an already existing headache. A coworker’s perfume, the nearby printer or the fluorescent light bulbs are all factors that may be out of a your control. Communicating with an employer is recommended to help keep the workplace a healthy environment for chronic sufferers. Finally, due to the continual and excessive use of computers, headache sufferers should try to take frequent breaks from staring at the computer screen.

While managing may be a short-term fix to a throbbing headache, it is important to consider that there may also be a serious underlying cause. Seeking advice from a healthcare professional can help diagnose existing or at risk health problems and find the best treatment options.

Bob and Brad

How to Treat Neck Headaches with Self-Massage & More

I n this video, we are referring to the treatment of a specific type of headache that is caused by an issue with your neck. Cervicogenic headaches are different because they are caused by problems with the nerves, bones, or muscles in your neck. Although you may feel pain in your head, it does not start there. Instead, the pain you feel is referred pain from the neck.

Self-Massage

Self-Massage with a ball or your fingers. Using your fingers self-massage, the neck at the spot where the neck attaches to the skull. You should try circular motions and splaying. Remember the rule of thumb is to never massage an artery. So, we are not going to perform any massage with the therapy cane or massage gun which could press into the vertebral artery.

In addition to the massage, you may try these three exercises:

1. Chin Tucks: These should be performed throughout the day (ideally 6-8x)

2. Chin Tucks with overpressure (hand or towel) (sustained 30-45 sec and if no increased pain can increase to 2 minutes)

3. Rotation with a towel. Place the “selvage” (tightly woven edge of the towel) against your neck at the position where the neck meets the skull (about C1). Grab the two ends of the towel with your hands. You will be working on rotating in the restricted or painful direction.

a. Rotating to the right. After you grab the two ends of your towel, your hands will switch with each other. After switching, your left hand should pull straight down on its towel end. The right hand will pull the opposite towel end across the left side of your face up near your eyes. This movement should be pain-free or do not continue. If pain-free, perform the rotation toward the painful side in 5-10 repetitions. Repeat 6-8 times spread out through the day. Do not let the left shoulder move forward during the rotation.

b. Rotating to the left. After you grab the two ends of your towel, your hands will switch with each other. After switching, your right hand should pull straight down on its towel end. The left hand will pull the opposite towel end across the left side of your face up near your eyes. This movement should be pain-free or do not continue. If pain-free, perform the rotation toward the painful side in 5-10 repetitions. Repeat 6-8 times spread out through the day. Do not let the right shoulder move forward during the rotation.

4. Flexion with gentle overpressure (use both hands to grab the upper back portion of your head and gently stretch forward for just a few seconds - repeat x 3).

5. Flexion with fist under the chin. Place your left curled fist under your chin - thumb side up. Use your right hand to grab the upper back portion of your head and gently pull forward. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat 3 times.

To watch the full video visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fkJkkhlVAKE

This video is part of a series of videos on how to treat your pain with self-massage. Check the full series of videos along with the downloadable guide sheets for each video on our website here: https://www.bobandbrad.com/massage/

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Medical Disclaimer All information, content, and material on this website is for informational purposes only and are not intended to serve as a substitute for the consultation, diagnosis, and/or medical treatment of a qualified physician or healthcare provider.

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Bob and Brad demonstrate how to treat neck, or cervicogenic headaches with self massage and a few key exercises. They don't recommend using a massage gun on the neck but give other techniques that can be used as soon as you feel a headache coming on to relieve pain.

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    Hot or cold packs or a hot bath or shower may help by relaxing or numbing your muscles. Cold applied to the forehead and temples is common choice for migraines. Heat, applied all over or on the neck/back of head, is more popular among people with tension headaches. Wearable heating and cooling packs and other devices are available.

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