When a headache strikes, imagine a soothing environment — an ocean shore or a tranquil waterfall. Focus on the sound of the waves rolling in and the wind gently blowing through the trees. By concentrating on the details, your mind becomes absorbed in the imagery, which lessens the pain of your headache.
Mindfulness meditation — essentially, the practice of being fully present in the moment — has been shown in numerous studies to reduce stress in a wide variety of situations. The goal of this type of meditation is not so much to clear your mind of any thoughts, but to acknowledge and be conscious of them as you have them — and allow yourself to let go of them and bring your attention back to the present. In other words, you stop thinking about the conversation you had two hours ago with your mother-in-law, boss or frenemy and what you might have said differently, and get your mind firmly planted in the here and now. The aim is to achieve greater calmness, physical relaxation and psychological balance. Mindfulness meditation begins by spending several minutes focusing solely on your breathing; as thoughts arise, you acknowledge that you are thinking, but then return your concentration to your breathing.