10 Stress Headache Relief Techniques That Work

- | 87 Aha! comments | Posted in category: Health & Wellness

man giving woman a stress headache relief technique massage

Do you suffer from tension headache, commonly known as stress headache?

Wouldn’t you want to know the stress headache relief techniques to ease you from the pain?

I do suffer sometimes from such tensions headaches, and am always on the lookout for better stress headache relief methods. Do you too?

Experts say that tension headaches are more common in middle-aged women!

Not only that, about 20% of the world’s population suffered from it at some time or the other, including men.

If you’re concerned, then you must know the stress signs and its causes. Sometimes you experience stress at your workplace, else you have stress in the family.

This mental stress often translates into and extends to physical stress and pain in the body. A healthy lifestyle would definitely help reduce stress related headaches.

If you wish to change your lifestyle then you can read my posts on lifestyle besides my post about how to cope with stress in general.

But this post is particularly about headaches arising due to stress and other factors, and the ways to get rid of them.

You all can make your life easy if you know the best stress headache relief techniques and follow them.

Let’s start quickly by first trying to understand all about stress headache, which is technically known as tension-type headache.

“Every head has its own headache” ~ Arab Proverb

What is Stress Headache

Stress headache is a feeling of constant pressure and tightness, or a band-like pain on the sides of the head, forehead, or back of the head and neck.

You may also experience stiff neck, nausea, slurred speech, confusion, or weakness, accompanied with fever. Have you ever gone through any of these symptoms?

The throbbing pain arising out of tension headache is generally mild to moderate, but can be severe at times. It almost feels like your head is being squeezed!

Such pain may last for a few minutes, hours to days, weeks, or even months. In cases of chronic tension headaches, the pain almost remains all the time, though varies in intensity.

It helps in seeking stress headache relief if you know its cause.

What are the Stress Headache Causes

A stress headache is not simply a mental phenomenon. Although stress headaches are the most common form of headaches among adults, its causes are not well understood.

Stress is the biggest factor of tension headaches. It includes mental stress and emotional tension.

This stress could be due to work, your boss or colleague at your workplace, conflicts in the family, a fight with your loved one, or any other uncomfortable situation.

Apart from stress, some other factors to consider while seeking stress headache relief measures include:

  • Sleep deprivation
  • Inadequate rest
  • Fatigue
  • Hunger or meals at irregular times
  • Food containing tyramine
  • Red wine
  • Bright sunlight or changes in weather
  • Strong smells
  • Tightly tied hair
  • Strenuous exercise
  • Excessive sex
  • Smoking
  • Excessive caffeine and its abrupt withdrawal
  • Menstrual periods

If you are like me who spends a lot of time sitting on the computer or laptop, or need to work sitting for long hours at your desk – you need to take care of the following to avoid tension headache:

  • Bad posture
  • Hunch or stoop while sitting
  • Uncomfortable position
  • Eyestrain or squinting to read
  • Using a chair without any low back support
  • Incorrect position of the monitor/screen, which should be at your eye level
  • Holding the phone between the ear and shoulders while talking for long hours
  • Using the computer mouse without any elbow support

Stress headache is thought to be caused by muscle tension or tightness around the head and neck. It is also assumed that these tension headaches have something to do with the mixed signals sent by the nerves to the brain.

Daily stress could be one of the causes that may lead to chronic tension headaches. Before that happens, you should either seek self-help measures or professional help for stress headache relief.

How to Seek Stress Headache Relief

The action plan to seek relief from stress headache consists of –

Is this difficult to achieve?

You may need to make efforts to change your lifestyle, but it will all be for your good. Most importantly, take care of your stress levels and body posture.

Stress Levels

Remember one thing when you try to lower your stress levels that if you can’t change the stressful situation; change your reaction towards it.

This will help you maintain your composure. You also need to achieve mind-control so that you don’t raise your stress and anxiety level, and eventually not have stress headache.

Poor Posture

A good posture puts minimal strain on your ligaments, muscles, tendons, and bones. So, they don’t get tensed up.

However, poor posture puts continual strain on your shoulders, neck, and upper back. This causes the muscle fibers to tear.

As a result you feel tightness in those areas and the flow of blood to the back of your head is restricted, besides causing some nerve ending irritation too.

Don’t worry; you do have an army of stress headache relief techniques that can really help you normalize the muscles, nerves, and achieve mental balance.

Here’s a short video that shows some exercises that you can do on your own to seek relief from stress headache, whenever you take a break from your work.

[youtube id=”d3POFo9cnjo” width=”620″ height=”360″]

Dr. Kevin McDougal ~ Get Rid of Computer Neck Headaches and Shoulder Pain ~ You Tube Video

10 Stress Headache Relief Techniques

There are various techniques that range from ancient to modern ones that bring stress headache relief by reducing mental stress, and restoring natural muscle state.

Some of these techniques and methods are –

1. Meditation – It allows your mind to settle and release the mental stress. You find your relaxed state and achieve mindfulness, which releases your stress headache. Try it out – it works wonders!

2. Massage – This is mainly for muscle relaxation and to bring stress headache relief by reducing the stress and tension in the tender muscles of the neck, shoulders, and back of your head.

3. Walking – It’s not only good for muscle relaxation but you can also meditate while walking and achieve relief in stress. I do a lot of this to ease of my stress levels.

4. Hot or cold compress – This is to relax the muscles by either hot or cold application, either with the help of hot flannel or ice pack to your neck or forehead.

5. Acupuncture – You get temporary relief from tension headache when acupuncture practitioners slightly pierce special points on your body with the help of extremely thin, disposable needles.

6. Deep breathing – Breathing exercises help you re-oxygenate your body and supply more oxygen to the brain as well as all parts of the body, which allows the tension to be released.

7. Biofeedback – You learn to control certain body responses, which help reduce the pain. It requires connecting a device to your body that provides the feedback to various body functions like your heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle tension.

8. Behavior therapy – You learn to manage stress by getting involved in a talk therapy with your counselor, who helps you learn new ways to cope with life and stress.

9. Yoga – This is an ancient Indian practice to achieve mind body balance, and full relaxation of the mind and body. It consists of various asanas or body poses/postures.

10. Progressive muscle relaxation – This way you gradually and completely relax all the muscles of your body taking them one at time. You tense, hold, and relax the muscles along with positive affirmations in your mind.

Apart from these techniques and method of achieving stress headache relief, you can also use art, music, mental imagery, games, aromatherapy, essential oils, spas, and even sex for relaxation.

Remember, anything different from what you usually do, or which takes away your mind from what you are doing – will ease you. It will help remove your stress headaches, if you are having them.

You should drink plenty of water to flush out the body toxins, and herbal tea to rejuvenate your body. I know most of these things work because I’ve tried them and seen the difference.

Mostly you suffer from tension headache because of your faulty lifestyle. Once you learn to avoid stress and learn the right way of living, the stress headache vanishes.

Over to you –

Have you ever experienced tension headaches?  How did you achieve your stress headache relief? What were the stress headache relief techniques you used and how effective did you find them? Share in the comments below.

Photo Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos

Show Comments

87 Comments - Read and share thoughts

  1. Clay Ryan

    2016-07-04 at 9:54 pm

    Thank you for another positive, action-oriented article on aha-now. The now part is so important as we often know what to do, but don’t take action.

    These tips will not only work for stress headaches but help with overall health, similar to or working in conjunction with your 14 Practical Tips for a Healthy Lifestyle.

    For me, I use biofeedback as an everyday part of my life. The Alive program is my favorite as it has so many options, including workshop (1)meditations for mindfulness, (10)progressive muscle relaxation, breathing exercises which meet 3 of the best 10 tips from this article. So, 10-15-20 minutes per day is a HABIT I will not break.

    It allows my body to get benefits of (1) meditation, get into a (6)breathing rhythms, is (7) biofeedback, uses (8) built in self behavior therapy coaching and in general just takes me away from the day’s troubles and I always feel better when done!

    Try to incorporate just 1 of the 10 and you are a winner!

  2. Andrewson

    2014-05-10 at 4:09 am

    Wow nice article. Thanks! Massaging around the eyes helps with reducing stress too. Just trace around eye socket, massage gently in circular fashion with your index and middle fingers. For more relaxation, place warm compress (soak a clean cloth in warm water and squeeze dry it) on your eyes before you sleep. It feels heavenly. Hope it helps.

  3. Pooja Sinha

    2014-05-02 at 2:53 pm

    Harleena Thanks for sharing this blog. It’s a very useful blog for all of us who go through such stress headaches! I have these regular headaches which stems out of stress, I know and I can’t avoid taking stress; that comes with my job. And because of which I started Meditation and Aromatherapy using incense sticks, scented candles and stuff from Cycle Brand(which is by far the best, according to me) on a daily basis. Your tips on How to deal with Stress Headaches are really amazing.

  4. Abhirath Mahipal

    2014-01-02 at 4:19 pm

    I get an headache when I use the computer without a break for a very long time. I normally palm my eyes or splash them with water and my headache goes.

  5. Sana

    2013-06-24 at 7:14 pm

    Getting relief through meditation is one of the best ways.Because of meditation one get the maximum level of satisfaction and this satisfaction level is cause of mental calmness.

    In my experience Yoga is much like similar to meditation and yoga exercise always provide maximum relief to the headache.

  6. David Tucker

    2013-04-24 at 12:25 pm

    Hi Harleena,

    I usually don’t suffer from headaches as of now. However, I’d gladly use these stress relieving techniques to reduce the tension. I’m certain that the relaxation and meditation are obligatory for everyone in today’s crazy world.

    • Harleena Singh

      2013-05-12 at 7:09 pm

      Welcome to the blog David!

      Glad to know that you no longer suffer from stress headaches 🙂

      Nice that these stress headache relief techniques could help reduce the tension. Oh yes, relaxation techniques and meditation is something all of us should do as they help lead a better and healthier life.

      Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  7. Neethi

    2013-04-15 at 11:43 pm

    Hi Haleena,

    A superb article on Headache. Thanks for the brilliant tips which are of immense help for sure. Always look forward to your articles.

    Regards Neethi

    • Harleena Singh

      2013-04-15 at 11:48 pm

      Hi Neethi,

      Glad you liked the article on stress headaches and the relief techniques shared. I guess most of us undergo these sometime or the other. It does help if we know how to take care at such times. Nice to know you look forward to my posts, which encourages me to keep writing 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  8. Jack

    2013-04-13 at 2:26 pm

    Really helpful article, sometimes we are stress headache because of our job then from this article I know stress headache relief techniques .

    • Harleena Singh

      2013-04-15 at 7:09 am

      Welcome to the blog Jack!

      Yes indeed, sometimes we are stressed due to our jobs and so many other things too – and I hope these stress headache relief techniques help out there.

      Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  9. Srikanth

    2013-04-11 at 1:54 pm

    Hi Ma’am,

    Well, headache is most painful as it is not visible, and it creates so much pain to us 🙂 Great Tips Ma’am !!
    Thanks For Sharing!!

    • Harleena Singh

      2013-04-11 at 2:09 pm

      Hi Srikanth,

      Yes indeed, headaches cause a lot of pain and they aren’t any visible cause for it too. I guess we just need to be careful and take care that these stress headaches don’t occur too often by changing our lifestyle.

      Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  10. Mahadi

    2013-04-10 at 2:08 pm

    Nice post. Specially 10 Stress Headache Relief Techniques at the last portion is very interesting and helpful. Thanks for sharing.

    • Harleena Singh

      2013-04-10 at 11:26 pm

      Welcome to the blog Mahadi!

      Glad you liked the post and the stress headache relief techniques shared as well. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  11. Neamat Tawadrous

    2013-04-09 at 10:03 pm

    Hi Harleena,

    Great tips and interesting post Harleena. I read a blog post few weeks back by Sue Neal about neck, back and shoulder pains which is developed by sitting long periods of time in front of the computer.

    Yes, I get those stress headaches when I sit for a long time in front of the computer monitor and also I tend to forget about drinking water and I also get severe headaches during my Menstrual periods. Sometimes, if I am very busy, I just resort to medication, otherwise I take a small break away from the computer. The video is very helpful and I will sure try those exercises.

    Thanks Harleena for all those healthy tips which are worth sharing.

    Be Blessed,


    • Harleena Singh

      2013-04-10 at 12:32 am

      Hi Neamat,

      Glad you liked the tips and post. Oh yes…I remember that one of Sue’s too, and she’d even put up some wonderful videos to share with us.

      Most of these stress headaches do arise because of our bad posture and lifestyle habits too. Sitting for long hours on the computer can cause the neck, shoulder, and eyes to pain, and all of this causes stress headaches if timely action isn’t taken.

      I also used to forget to drink water, or get lazy to get up to fetch it, but then I started keeping a bottle next to me and that works well, as it’s easier to reach and remind oneself to have it every few minutes. During the periods, many women face the problem of headaches, which might have got something to do with the hormones.

      Taking medicines is an easy option, though opting for other alternatives is better, though if nothing works – mild medications are alright too. I’m sure you’d like these easy exercises as they are working well for a few people, and Donna tried it out and is liking it too. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experiences with all of us. 🙂

  12. Tim Bonner

    2013-04-09 at 5:41 pm

    Hi Harleena

    I don’t tend to suffer from tension headaches so much these days, particularly since I left work.

    My problem is backache. However that is probably because of poor posture too so the techniques in the video may help that.

    I think taking more breaks from sitting at my computer will also help and I really do need to get out and do some more walking.

    Great tips for tension headaches which I think should help with my backache too I hope!

    • Harleena Singh

      2013-04-09 at 7:39 pm

      Hi Tim,

      I guess leaving work and taking a break might be the secret behind you not suffering from these stress headaches 🙂

      I agree, backaches are part of the poor sitting posture we tend to follow, for which it’s suggested to place a cushion behind your lower back when you sit. Perhaps you could try to see if it makes a difference, and yes the exercises in the video are nice and tried by a few people, as they mentioned above.

      Oh yes…sitting for too long is the major causes of aches and pains, especially around the neck and shoulder areas. And the only cure is to move around and take frequent breaks, which I’m sure we can, especially if we have kids and a family who need our attention – isn’t it?

      Thanks for stopping by and contributing to the post. 🙂

  13. Adrienne

    2013-04-09 at 7:28 am

    Hi Harleena,

    Well I’m definitely going to bookmark this post and check out these exercises. For some reason, I wake up with a headache more mornings then I don’t. Now I have one of the most comfortable mattresses and I sleep really good, or so I think I do, but for some reason I usually wake up with a headache.

    I do get enough sleep, I do exercise everyday, I eat pretty good so I’m not sure why this continues to happen. I mean if it were from working on the computer or bad posture I would have the headache during the day and not wake up with it each morning.

    I’ve changed pillows so many times thinking maybe that’s it so I’m just lost. I have no idea but maybe these exercises will help so thanks for sharing this video and for these other tips as well. No harm in trying them out right.

    Have a great week, headache free! 😉


    • Harleena Singh

      2013-04-09 at 7:32 pm

      Hi Adrienne,

      Thanks for bookmarking this post, and Donna seemed to have tried these exercises as she mentioned above, and she liked it. I tried them too as they were simple enough, which we can do when we take a break between our work.

      Sorry to hear about your morning headaches, though I don’t think those sound like stress headaches. And as you mentioned, you’re getting enough sleep, eating well, exercising enough, and really taking care of yourself – so I wonder what’s the problem too.

      Hope your water intake is sufficient, as that is another cause, or even the eyesight that can sometimes be a cause of headache. I say this as we tend to ignore these small things. I would suggest to show yourself to a doctor too – no harm done, just to rule out other hidden health issues like blood pressure etc., which again show up in different forms in all of us.

      Hope you feel better with these exercises, or then if you wish, give a try out to meditation and yoga – they are known for relieving headaches of all kinds too. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experiences with us. 🙂

  14. Sue Neal

    2013-04-08 at 10:27 pm

    Hi Harleena,

    This is an excellent post and I loved the video – definitely going to try those exercises. I’ve been very fortunate rarely to suffer from any kind of headaches at all (consequently when I do get one, I make an enormous fuss!) but I’m currently seeing a physio for treatment for some terrible pains in my neck and shoulder blades, which have probably been caused, and are certainly exacerbated, by spending too long sitting at the computer. It’s severely limiting the time I can spend online, so if anyone’s reading this, I’d say don’t wait for the aches and pains to start and don’t underestimate how much damage you can do to yourself just by using a computer – prevention is better than cure!

    I think having your work station set up correctly, to promote good posture and reduce strain, is crucial – and I suspect a lot of people using laptops and mobile devices often don’t give this much thought. I use soft wrist rests for my keyboard and mouse and I’m sure that’s helping me avoid even more problems than I already have.

    As you say, one of the main things is just to keep moving – our bodies weren’t designed for all this sitting still. Walking and other forms of exercise are a big help, and just making sure you don’t spend too long glued to that screen. If it weren’t for my dogs needing regular walks, I’d probably have seized up altogether by now.

    Blogging’s great fun, but you can have too much of a good thing 🙂

    Thanks for a wonderful post, Harleena, jam packed full of valuable advice.

    Have a lovely week 🙂


    • Harleena Singh

      2013-04-09 at 7:19 pm

      Hi Sue,

      Glad you liked the post, and yes, these exercises are helping Donna as she mentioned above, after having tried them. 🙂

      I know the neck and shoulder pains can be terrible, and you did write about it in your posts too – along with those wonderful videos as well. Yes, they do occur because we sit at one place for long hours without moving around or taking a break. I guess we get so involved in our work that we tend to forget to take care of ourselves, unless we are troubled by some health issues – isn’t it?

      I’m glad you are seeing a physio for treatment, and yes, prevention is better than cure. Perhaps if you’d taken immediate action when you first got the painful symptoms – it might not have got this worse. But just like most people, we tend to ignore the small pains and aches and take some pain-killers thinking it will get alright, which only keeps adding up and getting worse within.

      You’re absolutely right – sitting and working with a correct posture is absolutely essential, and that’s what makes all the difference to making you work efficiently as well. I went through a problem of having pain in my wrists too as I was mentioning to Hiten above, but thankfully made timely changes. 🙂

      Oh yes…my dog keeps me on my toes, and so do my kids, or else I’d be sitting all day long too! Moving around, walking, exercising, taking breaks, doing thins away from the usual, and simply enjoying life as it comes helps to live a stress-free life, which all of us need.

      I agree, blogging is fun provided it’s taken up the right way and we don’t overdo it in such a way that it harms us 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by and adding more value to the post. Have a nice week ahead as well. 🙂

  15. Chrysta Bairre

    2013-04-08 at 7:50 pm

    Wow! Thanks for sharing these excellent tips on reducing stress headaches.

    I am a regular sufferer of stress headaches and while I have been able to identify some techniques that work for me, I am always on the lookout for other things to try.

    Have a grateful day!


    • Harleena Singh

      2013-04-09 at 6:50 pm

      Hi Chrysta,

      You are most welcome, and I think most of us can relate to it being bloggers who have to sit long hours and work online – isn’t it? 🙂

      I guess you need to slow down working too hard and take care of yourself to avoid these headaches, and try out these stress headache relief techniques, which am sure would help. Even the exercises mentioned in the short video are helpful, as Donna seemed to have tried it as she mentioned above. They might work for you as well. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by, and have a nice day as well. 🙂

  16. Hiten

    2013-04-08 at 5:12 pm

    Hi Harleena,

    This was a brilliant post about stress headaches.

    There was one point you made in your post, which I would like to emphasise a little further as I’ve experienced this recently. It is the importance of having elbow support when using a computer.

    Over the past few weeks I’ve been using my laptop on my bed, without any elbow support. After some days, my wrists and lower arms started to hurt really badly. Luckily, the strain didn’t reach my head but I was feeling very uncomfortable. I’ve switched to working at a table again where there is support for my wrists and my arms are okay now.

    Thank you.

    • Harleena Singh

      2013-04-09 at 6:42 pm

      Hi Hiten,

      Glad you liked the post. 🙂

      I’ve gone through what you mentioned Hiten, and have been using my Laptop sitting in bed in the severe winter, as it’s warm within the quilt. I faced the same problem as you mentioned, because the elbows tend to hang without support and not rest on anything. This does cause a lot of strain. I had to eventually shift back to my table and chair also, as I wasn’t able to work with that pain for long. Even my neck was strained because I had to come forward to see the screen.

      I agree, sitting in that position can cause pain and discomfort, and if carried on for long, might even result in stress headaches as what nerve is affected we never really know. I think keeping these small things in mind, especially when we have experienced them all – helps in avoiding health issues.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experiences with everyone 🙂

  17. Koundeenya

    2013-04-08 at 5:10 pm


    All these days, I was put under a lot of pressure from many sides. My client works, blog stuff, personal things, relations and a lot more. In short, I am getting headache due to overload (stress).

    From the solutions you’ve mentioned, sleep is something I’d love to have. I’m lazy enough in the mornings. And, massages too. The pleasure we get when someone’s massaging your head, is just so awesome.

    Thanks for this lovely article, Harleena.

    • Harleena Singh

      2013-04-09 at 6:28 pm

      Hi Koundeenya,

      You are not alone at all, because many of us sail in the same boat. When deadlines have to be met, and you need to cope with your work and personal front as well – it does build up a lot of pressure that leads to stress, which is unavoidable at times. You need to do all the things as they all need attention, and what to take up as priority and what to do later – adds to it as well. 🙂

      Sleep is something I lack in too, and wish I could get those straight 7-8 hours of sleep at night, which happens only when I am on holiday, and away from my online work!

      Ah…I can understand – massages work wonders and often take you to a far-away world of relaxation – isn’t it? Wish we could have more of those 😉

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experiences with all of us 🙂

  18. Dankas

    2013-04-08 at 4:16 pm

    I def love massage as a way of getting those nasty headaches, but I think I even prefer running to walking, as it tends to release more endorphin, which usually works great as a happiness hormone 😉

    • Harleena Singh

      2013-04-09 at 6:19 pm

      Welcome to the blog Dankas!

      Nice to know that massages work better for you. 🙂

      I guess some people (mainly men) who can run, prefer running to walking, while others stick to brisk walking, which I feel is as good. I agree, perhaps running makes you happier because of endorphin, though you can be happy anytime you want – isn’t it?

      Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  19. Lisa

    2013-04-08 at 3:24 pm

    Harleena, I haven’t had any like that in quite some time. I do go for acupuncture monthly and it really has helped me. When I had the other pain from my neck and arm from being on computer w/pinched nerve massage helped along with it. It did take some time but boy I don’t feeel any of it anymore. Happy about that 🙂
    I think many of us don’t even realize when we are stressed anymore because we are so often.
    Going for walks helps me to unstress too.I think if you can unstress before you get a headache it will help you.

    • Harleena Singh

      2013-04-09 at 6:15 pm

      Hi Lisa,

      You are indeed lucky, and it’s good you’r taking good care of yourself. 🙂

      Acupuncture and massages are known to help in cases of aches and pains, though you need to get them done regularly till the pains there, and even after that to keep it off.

      I agree, stress has become part of our daily lives, and so much so that we don’t tend to realize it, till we are faced with the symptoms. Walks, meditation, and even yoga help to de-stress, besides other things that you do more for enjoyment and away from the ordinary. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your views 🙂

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10 Stress Headache Relief Techniques That Work

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