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Stress Headaches
Beat That Tension

Stress headaches are mainly caused when we tense up our muscles in our neck and shoulder area. It is estimated that 9 out of 10 headaches are stress related.

When we are anxious or worried about something we sometimes automatically scrunch up our shoulders, often we don’t even notice we are doing it.

These muscles cause the front temporal muscles in our face to become taut and tight, particularly the muscles in our forehead and at the side of our face near the temples.

When this happens for any length of time a headache is often caused, these are called tension headaches of stress headaches.

Of course worry and stress may not be the only factors in causing the headaches; other factors can interact with stress or even add to it which can increase the frequency or even intensity of the headaches. These factors can include:

stress headaches pictures by Avenue G
  • Certain foods such as chocolate, cheese, caffeine, dairy products and fried foods.

  • Missed meals can cause a drop in sugar levels in the blood stream.
  • Hormone changes – women may be particularly prone to this factor due to contraception, menstruation and the menopause all having and effect on the balance of hormones in the body.

  • Lack of or too much sleep

  • Overexertion

  • Lack of air from stuffy working conditions

We all react differently to these possible triggers and for many of us we can get through the day without feeling any ill effects from these stressors. However for others it may just take one of these factors to trigger a stress headache and yet again someone may have to experience a combination to spark of a headache.

If you find that you are getting frequent headaches but are not sure what could be causing them, try keeping a diary of what and when you eat and drink and where you are and what the conditions were like, i.e. noisy, stuffy, bright etc. this will help to build a picture of what your particular stressors are which are triggering your headaches.

Of course headaches can be a sign of some other medical condition such as poor eyesight or high blood pressure so it is always best to check with your doctor if you are having frequent unexplained headaches.

If you are experiencing stress headaches then there are a few things you can try to help relieve the pain.

Run your hands under a hot tap (not too hot) for ten minutes. This helps to draw the blood away from your head.

Practice tensing and relaxing different muscles in your body. Start with your hands and work downwards.

Give yourself a face and neck massage

Aromatherapy is good for relaxing tense muscles. Use it with massage oil or simply inhale it via a scent burner.

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