Update: we are 2 weeks into a gluten free diet and my daughter has only complained of 1 headache. We have even cheated 2 times, but the load is WAY down. Please consider removing Gluten from your family’s diet! I have lots of support for that here, here, here and here. I have a whole Program to help you remove gluten and add in foods that combat nutrient deficiencies and syndromes here and here.
My 10 yr old daughter recently began complaining of headaches. This is DEVASTATING to me as headaches run in my family and this was a cross I had hoped neither of my kids would ever have to bare. It was that dreaded day that I prayed would never come. So I am in full-blown Holistic Doctor, Not-going-down-the-western-medical-drug-path, Mommy Bear mode. Reaching deep into my Toolkit to halt these suckers in their path.
The many causes of headaches: Diet
The FIRST thing we are doing is removing Gluten from her diet. I know A LOT about gluten sensitivity, celiac disease and all the symptoms and syndromes in which gluten can play a role. (Listen to my two podcasts on the subject here and here.) I just hadn’t fully gone down that road yet; more out of laziness, as I didn’t see any tell tale signs my kids had issues with it. Watch my Facebook Live on this here.
Physical causes of Headaches
The 3rd discovery is what has always been true for ME: my headaches stem from tight neck and upper back muscles. One of my daughter’s headaches was after carrying her 10 mo old cousin around and walking him in his stroller about 2 miles. A massage on her neck and upper back with some essential oils took that one away. I use these essential oils and their various pain blends.
Headaches are a beast. They come in all shapes and sizes and have so many causes. I plan to address all the causes I have spent my lifetime learning about and experiencing. She will not HAVE HEADACHES!
Mental-Emotional causes of headaches
But the biggest reason for this article is that I have simultaneously realized that my daughter is a worrier. A very big worrier. I am a firm believer that worry causes headaches, just as it causes GI issues in some; it goes right to the head in others.
I am a worrier too, or more aptly put, “a stress-case”. I create stress. I am type-A and if I have no reason to be stressed, I will make one up.
So I am tackling my daughter’s headaches with stress reduction and specifically, helping her to manage her worry and develop a positive mental attitude that fosters adaptability, resilience and confidence.
I can’t even give credit specifically where it is deserved, because I learned these methods from a variety of spiritual and mental-health gurus, like Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer, Bob Proctor, Gabrielle Bernstein, Marie Forleo, Jim Rohn and Les Brown, to name just a few.
Our Worry-Less Protocol
Leah starts the conversation with something like, “mom, I’m worried”. This is a good start, because she has identified the feeling, is open to discussing the issues and not suppressing her emotions.
I ask what she is worried about. It is usually school-work related. So I have her:
1) identify the issue (a school assignment)
2) get all the timeframe, due dates, and details laid out
I ask her if she knows what to do, if she thinks she can [read the book in time], if she understands the assignment. Then I ask:
1) Do you think you can finish the book by [Tuedsay] and take 3 days to complete the report?
2) Do you feel like you have control over this assignment?
Once we figure out the amount of time she has for each portion of the project (5 days to read= 20 pages per day, then 4 to do the report), I make sure she is comfortable with this and does she think she can do that?
Once you have control over something, and it is not as big and daunting, much of the worry subsides. I reminder her just to stick to the plan of what to do each day. She is not afraid of work, so she feels better.
Now, if the worry is more esoteric, like, she is worried she is not good in math, or can’t figure something out, we go through ways she can TAKE control of the saturation. Such as: ask her teacher for help, raise her hand and ask more questions; if these steps don’t help, then I offer to email the teacher. Our last resort is that I remind Leah that we can always get a tutor if she still isn’t understanding. Once she feels like she has control and steps to follow and that I will do whatever she needs to support her, she usually starts feeling better in a day or two.
Law of Attraction and the Power of Shifting to a Feel-Good Emotion
When the worry over not “doing well” persists, or she is worried about something that she has no control over or cannot identify, the following exercise has become our near-daily mantra:
1) think of your favorite thing on the planet (usually her dog) or your favorite place on earth (Maui right now) and FEEL how it feels to be with that person/thing or be in that location.
This exercise is about changing ones’ perspective, shifting the negative, downward spiral to a good feeling place where good feelings lead to better thoughts and – our thoughts become our reality! I really believe this!
2) think of 3-5 things you are grateful for today. If it’s at the start of the day, I tell her to LOOK for things to be grateful for; if it’s the end of the day, I ask what she appreciates about the day. Really feel grateful, feel the love, the appreciation, the way being with [Nana] makes you FEEL, or [hugging your dog or holding your baby cousin]. This is important, otherwise they just say things they like, but don’t get out of their worry and negative thinking.
I know for sure that LOOKING for positive things in one’s day fosters a more positive state of mind and attracts more of those GOOD things into your life.
At first, Leah was reluctant to do the “gratitude game”. She would spout off things like food, recess, or mom. But then she got into it more and I think she is really starting to look for the positive in her days.
She even told her soccer team to think positively when they were loosing. This made my day.
The point is that there are only 2 kinds of things we worry about. The things we have control over and the things we don’t. The above simple steps have helped her to grasp what she has control over and manage it; and those that she has less control over, she is developing the mental strength and resilience to let go of, move on and have a positive mental attitude which just brings more good things into her life!
I will keep you posted on the headaches.