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Stress Headaches and How to Avoid Them

The location of a tension headache is a severe pain on either side of the head. The stress headache location, however, is usually the back of the neck and the forehead.

What is a stress/tension headache?

A stress headache is simply a headache caused by stress. The difference between a tension headache and a migraine is the location and severity of pain. A tension/stress headache is a duller pain both sides of the head; whereas a migraine is a more intense (sometimes even throbbing) pain located on one side of the head. With the everyday pressures of modern life, it’s no wonder that 1 in 5 women and 1 in 15 men suffer with migraines (according to the NHS). Additionally, the pandemic in recent years has increased many people’s anxiety and this can lead to stress headaches which can lead to migraines.

What causes tension headaches?

According to the NHS, apart from the obvious stress and anxiety, tension headaches can be caused by:

  • squinting
  • poor posture
  • tiredness
  • dehydration
  • missing meals
  • lack of physical activity
  • bright sunlight
  • noise
  • certain smells

But how do you get rid of stress headaches?

Home remedies can prove very effective for minor cases, for anything more severe you should look at treatments. Essential oils roller ball can help distract your mind from the pain by focusing your attention on different sense. Cooling peppermint oil is proven to be a relaxing oil to help calm you when the start of a migraine occurs. Another herbal remedy is to use an anti-inflammatory balm to massage on your temples, neck, and shoulders (or where the tension is held) to help relive the tension and stress in that area of the body. A wearable icepack is good for treating a pounding head, instantly soothing the throbbing pain. Alternatively, a heated weight wrap for your neck and shoulders can target the problems areas before the problem occurs. However, if you don’t want to purchase these items the NHS recommends and cold flannel on your forehead and warm flannel around your neck.

Massaging your temples with a cooling roller (often used to reduce puffiness of under eyes), in circular motion can relive headaches located at the temples. Reduce the strain on your eyes by massaging them. Press and release around the eyes for 3 minutes to increase circulation and help prevent any further issues. Yoga can also help cure a stress headache as it stretches the muscles and relaxes them; massages are also useful this. As always when it comes to most at-home remedies, exercise is always recommended. It is proven to release endorphins which make you happy, in turn, relieving symptoms of stress and tension.

How to prevent stress headaches

To help prevent stress headaches, it is recommended by professionals to stay hydrated, get enough sleep and rest and maintain a good posture. With many people working at desks, and now working from home, we often find ourselves in slumped positions. Try and actively be aware of your posture, checking yourself regularly that you aren’t straining your back, neck, and shoulders.

Asides from home remedies, you can also use painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen to relive pain, additionally aspirin may also be recommended but check with your GP first.

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