By United Press International With celebrations ranging from office parties to family gatherings, the holiday season traditionally is a time of cheer. It also can be a time of stress and tension, which can lead to headaches.

"Altered lifestyle patterns during the holidays are a prime cause of headaches," said Dr. Seymour Diamond, founder and director of the Diamond Headache Clinic and the National Headache Foundation in Chicago.Diamond offered the following tips to help avoid a "holiday headache":

- The most common form of headaches is the tension headache due to added stress and fatigue. Tension headaches are characterized by a dull pain and a feeling of tightness around the neck and scalp.

Practice relaxation and stretching techniques, such as neck rolls and slow, deep breaths to release built-up tension.

- Watch what you eat. Even the most health-conscious are tempted to gorge on holiday goodies. Migraine sufferers have to be especially careful during the holiday season since a lot of different foods can trigger an attack. Culprits include ripe cheeses, citrus fruits, chocolate, red wines and caffeinated beverages.

- Be aware of smoke and perfume-filled rooms, which can trigger headaches. Those late-night parties also can lead to migraines by disrupting normal sleeping patterns.

- If you drink, do so in moderation. Probably one of the most dreaded "holiday headaches" is the hangover, caused by excessive alcohol consumption. - See your doctor if you are experiencing more frequent or severe headaches during the holidays.

It can be easy to place undue wear and tear on your body during the holidays, and the more aware you become of what triggers a headache, the better off you'll be.

For a free copy of the brochure "The Headache Handbook," send a stamped, self-addressed, business-sized envelope with 50 cents postage to: National Headache Foundation, 5252 N. Western Ave., Chicago, IL 60625.