When a headache strikes, it can range from a slight annoyance to a level of pain that can quite literally put a stop to your day.
Headaches are also, unfortunately, a common problem. According to a 2016 World Health Organization report, half to three quarters of adults around the globe — 18 to 65 years old — had a headache in 2015. Among those same individuals, 30 percent or more reported a migraine.
The easiest and quickest option may be to pop an over-the-counter pill. If, however, you prefer to seek out a more natural remedy first, why not try these five, at-home treatments?
1. Peppermint essential oil
One 2007 report found that topical peppermint oil might be effective in reducing tension headaches. Mix several drops with an ounce of carrier oil, like coconut oil, and apply the mixture topically to your temples to soak in its effects.
Although it may be the last thing you feel like doing when a headache strikes, moving around can help you feel better.
Thankfully, it doesn’t have be something as extreme as running a marathon. Start with light cardio, like a walk. To relieve muscle tension and get your blood flowing, try yoga.
And when you feel up to it, start sweating. Consistent, moderate exercise has been shown to reduce the frequency and duration of migraines in general.
If you look forward to your morning caffeine boost to get your day started, there’s some good news for you: coffee, tea, and even (yes) chocolate can help cure a headache.
The pain from a headache is caused by the dilation, or enlarging, of blood vessels. Caffeine can help relieve that pain because of its vasoconstrictive properties, meaning that it causes blood vessels to constrict. In fact, caffeine is a key active ingredient in over-the-counter migraine medications like Excedrin.
Tread slowly, though — frequent use of caffeine to treat headaches can actually backfire, and tolerance and dependency can become a concern.
4. Take a nap
Getting enough restful sleep is key to a healthy lifestyle, and a nap may actually help combat those pesky headaches.
But how long should you hit the hay? Just 20 minutes is all you need to retain the benefits of napping. If, however, you can carve out 90 minutes, you’ll likely go through an entire sleep cycle and wake up feeling very refreshed.
5. Try a hot or cold compress
A hot compress — like a hot pad or even a hot shower — can help relax tense muscles. A cold compress, like an ice pack, can have a numbing effect.
Try both for 10 minutes and see which one gives you the best relief.
Nicole Davis is a Boston-based writer, ACE-certified personal trainer, and health enthusiast who works to help women live stronger, healthier, happier lives. Her philosophy is to embrace your curves and create your fit — whatever that may be! She was featured in Oxygen magazine’s “Future of Fitness” in the June 2016 issue. Follow her on Instagram.