Headache and stress ? Let this reseach answer it

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Dave is a 27 years old man, currently in a right career track where his performance is noticeably excellent.

He was recently promoted to be a office manager at a new branch. He was happy to be more successful even if his workload increases.

Everything is going well. But one day Dave wake up with a dull, throbbing pain in both side of his head. He thought it was just a headache and it will be gone soon.

But the pain persist throughout the day. It gone long enough for several hours but every time Dave thought the headache is gone, it will come back again without warning.

As a result, Dave feel like he got a heavy head. He can’t focus on his task because he feel dull and can’t think straight for a good part of the day.

The pain never go away, even weeks after the first time he felt it, to the point that his performance is slipping.

What Dave experienced is probably the most common health problem caused by stress: headache.

It is maybe less dangerous than other health problems possibility – like diabetes, Alzheimer’s, or heart disease.

But it is no less annoying, disturbing, and painful.

Headache is terrible. It feels as if your brain is whirled inside a washing machine. As if it is trying to squeeze out your eyeballs. As if it is trying to explode your head from inside.

Headache disturbs you from doing your activities.

It’s a sign that you’re maybe overstressed or actually really sick.

Either way, it’s a sign that there’s something that’s not right.

And the most important, it hurts. Painfully so. It’s not something that should happen to anybody.

Sadly, headache happens often, especially in our current modern lifestyle.

It is one of the most common health problem caused by stress.


Headache can means many things.

It may precedes another sickness as a symptom.

It is maybe caused by sudden change of weather, staring too long at electronic screen, or allergies.

But, there is a kind of headache that is caused by stress. This is called tension headaches or stress headaches.

It is usually occurred from less than 15 days per month (then it will be categorized as periodic headache) to as frequent as 15 days per month or more (then it will be chronic stress).

At first, it may feels as mild to moderate pressure in your forehead, back of the head, or neck. Then it continue as throbbing pain. When it gets to the most severe part, you may feel as if your head is squeezed with a very strong pair of giant hands.

Tension headache symptoms at first glance is hard to distinguish from other type of headache like migraine or illness-induced headache. But, you can recognize it by these symptoms:

  • The head pain is dull and persistent
  • You feel a sensation of tightness on both the sides and back of your head
  • Your scalp, neck, and shoulders muscle feel tensed and tender

At least 30% of American suffers from tension headaches, with 3% among them suffers from the chronic one.

Do you experience the same problem?

If you do, then is article is for you!

We’ve compiled information about this particular health problem caused by stress: tension headache!

Even better, we’ve collected some of the best tips to relieve tension headaches – both the quick relief type and the long term treatment type.

Curious? Please continue to read!


Headache is indeed a health problem caused by stress

Is tension headache really a health problem caused by stress?

Sadly yes. This study found out that when you get headache, your neuron undergo molecular changes that makes them hypersensitive toward pressure inside the head. When you’re stressed, your muscles are tightening, including in your head, causing pressure than was translated by your brain to be a painful experience.

Other area where they tend to tighten are in upper back and neck. This is why you feel like you’re feeling pressured in those areas before you get headaches.

Then, when your stress level is increased, so does the tightening. It makes you start feel your muscles pounding and throbbing at your skin.

When your stress is increased to the point you can no longer tolerate, the muscle tightening becomes so severe and this is when you feel like someone is trying to squeeze your brain out of your head like trying to squeeze orange juice from the fruit.

Did you know?

Migraine is not actually another kind of headache. It is a disease where headache is one of its symptoms.

Migraine is physical condition where blood vessels in your head is expanding – contrary to common headache where your blood vessels are narrowing.

Migraine is genetic – and it’s not caused by stress or other common headache-inducing causes.

So, next time you meet another friend who got migraine, don’t ever tell her to manage stress to cure their migraine because it’s not even the cause.

Other survey with more than 5,000 participants also found out that people who admit to feel highly stressed also report that they get more frequent and more severe headache than those who don’t.

But, although stress is recognized as common cause for headache, not every kind of stress triggers headache.

Actually, a high level of stress like death of people that is close to us, divorce, or being fired from job is less likely to trigger headaches.

Instead, low level but occurring daily type of stress like enduring traffic jam, tolerating annoying people, or enduring workload is the more common headache triggers due to its frequency.

Well, whichever causes your head to throb like your brain wants to get out, headaches is a health problem caused by stress that you shouldn’t just ignore.

We’ve compiled some of the best tips for quick headache relief and also long term treatment to stop them from ever coming back again!

My eye was literally pushed out of the socket. The pain was so bad, it was past being a headache. There’s no such thing as a headache like that. (Earl Woods)

Quick headache and stress relief

Heat treatment

Heat treatment is basically utilizing high temperature to ease your tension.

The most popular treatment is by soaking your feet in hot water.

You know that all of our cells are connected by nerve, right? So, even if it is your feet that get soaked, actually it’s your head that get the benefit!

Soaking your feet in hot water can ease pressure on the blood vessels in your head, helping to relax your tightened muscles too.

Other popular heat treatment is by placing hot compress on your forehead or the back of your neck.

Remember, that’s the area where your muscles are tightening as reaction to stress and they’re the one that pressured your head.

Putting hot compress will relax the knotted up muscles there and relieve the pressure in your head.

The even better thing from hot treatment, it actually can help your mind relax too!

So, yeah, it’s effective enough to chase away this health problem caused by stress – You can de-stress at the same time as treating your headache and other health problem caused by stress.


Cold treatment

How cold treatment work is almost the same with hot treatment.

You can do this by putting ice cold compress on forehead or the back of your neck.

You can also soak your hands in ice water. Of course, the duration is as long as you can stand it. Basically, it works the same with the compress.

Don’t doubt the effectiveness of cold treatment. They have been scientifically proven after all. In that study, a group of patients with migraine are asked to wear a gel cap to give their head cold treatment when they get a migraine attack.

After that, their headache severity is measured using scale called VAS. The scientist found out that after wearing gel cap, the VAS level of the patients decreased, meaning that cold treatment is in fact effective reduce the pain of headache.


What’s the oldest therapy that is ever used by human being? It’s massage!

Yes, this act of applying pressure to certain area of your body has been proven effective to combat stress and headache as well.

It’s fairly easy to do. You can massage yourself, ask your loved one to do it for you, and if you want a greater experience and have money to splurge, go to a massage therapist and experience the almost orgasmic pleasure of full body massage.

If you want to do it yourself, here’s a guidance on how to do it according to Dale Grust, President of the New York Chapter of the American Massage Therapy Association.

Put your thumbs on the end of your cheekbones below your ear. Use your other fingertips to rub your temple in gentle pressure. Then, add the pressure as you move them gradually along your hairline to the center of your forehead. As you move them, spread your fingers and massage the entire forehead and scalp that you can reach.

To make your massage even more relaxing and effective, try to put some oil. Because you will apply it in your face, we recommend you to use 100% pure essential oils. Radha Beauty’s Aromatherapy Top 6 Essential Oils Premium Kit meet this criteria and it comes in six different aromas in one package.

So, receiving such a pleasurable treatment while at the same time chasing away headache and other health problem caused by stress? Why not?

What can money do to console a man with a headache? (George MacDonald)

Long term treatment for headache and stress

Aerobic exercise

Tension headaches, as you already know, are tightening muscles in the neck, forehead, and scalp. Thus, the helpful aerobic exercise is those that ease tension in that area. Try these movements below.

Rolling your neck. Rolling your neck will stretch your muscles there, make them relax and release the tension there.

To practice this, close your eyes. Then drop your head to your chest while deeply breathe. Move your head gently and slowly to the side. As you move your head back to the chest, exhale your breath.

Twisting your shoulders. This one will stretch the muscles on your shoulders and neck.

Sit on a chair. Put one hand on the back of the chair. Then, twist your abdomen as if you’re looking behind your shoulder while taking a deep breath. Then exhale as you twist back to the front. Repeat with the other hand.


Learn relaxation technique

Actually, all that you have done above can be considered as relaxation. But there are many types of relaxation and some of them are more sophisticated and supposed to be more effective and long lasting.

Yoga is like physical exercise but with combination of breathing techniques and peacefulness. Practicing yoga in a long term will make you not only physically healthy but also mentally peaceful. You will be less likely to get irritated and angry.

Enroll in the nearest yoga class in your neighborhood. If you don’t have the time, you can follow guidance from yoga guru in the internet. You can even install yoga apps in your smartphone!

Our recommended yoga program is ShapeShifter Yoga by Kris Fondran that was developed with the objective of banish tension and anxiety, soothe everyday aches and pains, and shape your figure.

Meditation is pure mental exercise and its objective is to focus your mind on the most important thing: the present. By practicing meditation, you will be less likely to be disturbed by negative thought about your stress as has calmer mind.

Practicing meditation isn’t difficut. Follow guidance from meditation guru in the internet! You can also meet with meditating community and have a meditation session together.

Muscle-relaxing exercises is physical exercise with a purpose to ease your muscle tension. Although it is physical, the relaxation it provides is enormous and you’ll mind will end up relaxed as well.

Lie down on your back and scan your entire body from head to toe. Scan means you try to feel the condition of certain body parts without touching it. From the scan, you will notice that some area feel tense more than other area.

Relax this tensed area. Try to move that area in small, minimal movement like slowly rolling your shoulder or neck. After you feel all the muscles in your body relaxed, take a deep breath in and breath out slowly to finish.

Guided imagery is a mental relaxation. The objective is to calm your mind down whenever it is triggered by stressful situation.

When you feel like headache is coming, conjure a calm, peaceful image in your mind. The image can be a green tropical forest, a wide beach with white sands, or even the sight of clouds moving slowly in the sky.

Guided imagery can help make your headache less painful and over faster.

Practicing either one of these routinely and seriously can be beneficial both for your mind and your body. It keeps your stress level manageable and also protect you from health problem caused by stress.

Professional consult

If your headache is the chronic one and the above methods aren’t enough, then it’s for your best interest to consult with a professional.

At first, you can consult your doctor and ask whether this headache you experience is from stress or a symptom of other illness. If the latter is the case, follow your doctor’s recommendation for the treatment you should undergo or medicine you should take.

If the former is the cause, then you can continue to psychologist and ask help to manage your stress. Nowadays there are various professional stress management class. Ask recommendation from your psychologist to choose the most suitable one and follow his or her recipe throughout your treatment.

If you have a headache every Monday morning when it’s time for you to go to work, perhaps you’re driving the wrong car, perhaps you’re taking the wrong route, or you may be in the wrong line of work. Obviously, only you can figure out the message. (Christiane Northrup)

Ready to headache-free?

Headache is probably the most common health problem caused by stress among other illnesses.

But, although it is common, doesn’t mean that you can’t get rid of it!

We’ve compiled the tips to fight both tension headaches – a health problem caused by stress – and the stress itself.

Have you ever get headache because of stress? What do you do to ease them? Tell us your story in the comment below!

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