Applying the Pomodoro Technique to Headache Disorders

January 26, 2024
January 12, 2023
Applying the Pomodoro Technique to Headache Disorders

What is the Pomodoro Technique

The pomodoro technique was originally developed as a productivity tool and is often used for time management and to help with focus. Many people have found it to be highly effective for these purposes. This method can also be adopted in several ways to help people with headache disorders.

The method consists of constructing a work routine or breaking down tasks to be done into structured periods of work punctuated by regular breaks or rest periods.

The original formulation is work intervals of 25 minutes with 5 minute breaks in between. A 30 minute period consisting of 25 minutes on task and 5 minutes off task is one pomodoro. After 4 pomodoros you take a longer break.

How Pomodoro Technique can be applied to Headache Disorders

People with headache disorders often struggle to get more movement in their day. While regular exercise can help with headache disorders, people often find that exercise can exacerbate their headaches. One way around this conundrum is to take small exercise snacks during the day rather than trying to digest one huge exercise meal. 

Some intriguing research indicates that small snacks can add up to big benefits. People from Blue Zones, regions with high levels of longevity integrate movement into their daily lives rather than intense exercise at a gym. The pomodoro technique is a great way to implement multiple exercise snacks throughout your day. During the break periods you can do 5 minutes of whatever movement feels fun and achievable for you. This could be anything from slow stretching, a few yoga poses, walking, jogging in place, lifting a weight, calisthenics, body weight exercises, jumping rope, mini trampoline, dancing, or anything else you can think of. The possibilities are endless. You can also vary the intensity depending on how you are feeling on any given day. Your Neura Health Care Coach can help you brainstorm and implement ideas that are within your current capabilities and interests.

Another way that the Pomodoro technique can be used by people with headache disorders is by breaking up periods of screen time, which can be exacerbating. Just looking up and away from your screen and/or walking away for a few minutes can be very beneficial. You can also use this time to do some gentle shoulder and neck rolls and massage your shoulder and neck since tightness in these areas can be further exacerbating.

Another way that you can utilize the Pomodoro technique is for stress management by implementing periods of meditation, visualization, progressive muscle relaxation, breathing practices and other stress management techniques during rest periods. Your Care Coach can help you get started with some of these techniques. 

Where “Pomodoro” comes from:

The name pomodoro comes from the Italian word for tomato because proponents initially utilized a tomato shaped timer.

OG Pomodoro Timer

These days there are numerous free digital Pomodoro timers online and in the app store that you can access just by searching the phrase “Free Pomodoro Timer.” These also allow you to vary the work and rest intervals. You do not necessarily have to stick with the original 25 on & 5 off. You can experiment with what works best for you. You can also experiment with different things to try during the breaks.

For more great content, follow us:
Instagram IconFacebook Icon
Cary Sears, Head of Care Coaching
Cary Sears is a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach
About the Author
Cary Sears is a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC) with over 10 years of direct care experience across diverse settings including community agencies, medical centers, and digital health. He is currently Head of Care Coaching for Neura Health. Prior to Neura, he was a Senior Health Coach Manager at Noom where he led a group of managers that supported a team of remote health coaches focused on helping mobile app users live healthier lives by pioneering innovative ways to merge behavior change with technology. His previous professional experience includes conducting neuropsychological testing at the Cleveland Clinic. He earned a Master’s degree in Psychology from Cleveland State University and a Master’s degree in User Experience Design from Kent State University. His research experience is in the areas of coping with chronic illness, psychophysiology, and biofeedback. His passion is merging high-tech and high-touch interventions to create positive health behavior change.

Share this article

Looking for expert neurology care?

Video visits within days

Talk with neurologists

Get Rx delivered

Learn More

Finally, expert neurology care at your fingertips

Neura Health is a comprehensive virtual neurology clinic. Meet with a neurology specialist via video appointment, and get treatment from home.

Phone and Leaf Mockup