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Getting Rid of Your Stress Headache
How do you get rid of a stress headache? Maybe you take a couple of aspirin (or one of the other analgesics), and that might help, but a lot of times, it just doesn't kill your stress headache, and sometimes it just comes back. A stress headache can become chronic and disabling.
What Causes a Stress Headache?
A stress headache is caused by muscle contractions in your head, neck, and face. When you are stressed, these muscles tense up. They use more oxygen when they are contracted, and when they remain tense, toxins build up in the muscles making them hurt.
A stress headache is, of course, caused by stress, but there are some specific types of stress that may cause those muscles to tense up. Working over a desk in one position or working at a computer that isn't properly adjusted for you can do it. So can grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw at night.
Preventing a Stress Headache
If you are prone to getting a stress headache, there are some things you can do to prevent them. Good self-care and stress management is a place to start. Make it a point to take breaks while you are working, just get up and walk around for a few minutes every couple of hours helps. Anything that helps you manage stress should prevent a stress headache.
Treating a Stress Headache
There are medical treatments for stress headaches, and you should, by all means, make use of those treatments, especially if your headaches are chronic or severe. Over the counter analgesics are most people's first defense. If that doesn't help, and if your headaches are persistent, you should see a doctor for treatment and to make absolutely sure it's a stress headache and not something more serious.
Occasionally prescription analgesics, or even a narcotic injection might be necessary to get rid of a tension headache. Also, antidepressants or muscle relaxants may help a stress headache, even if you are not depressed. Massage, chiropractic, or physical therapy may help your stress headache, or your dentist may prescribe a night guard to keep you from grinding your teeth at night.
Finally, here are some do-it-yourself tricks for getting rid of your stress headaches:
- Put warm packs or ice packs on the back of your neck, while alternating hot and cold helps some people, too.
- Go for a walk. Stress headaches are caused by tension in the muscles of the neck and head. A short, brisk walk often helps because the exercise helps ease the tension in those muscles.
- Take a few minutes to do some relaxing exercises. Slowly rotate your head in a gentle circle, the reverse direction, and rotate it the other way. Do this a few times, and it also helps to roll your shoulders forward and backward a few times. Once again, this helps relax the muscles that are causing the headache.
- Lie down on the floor and intentionally relax your muscles. Start with your head and relax the muscles in your face, head, then your neck and shoulders. If time is short, take just five minutes and relax those muscles.
- Do some deep breathing. Take a deep breath in, slowly counting to five, and then let it out, again counting to five. Deep breathing relaxes you and sends more oxygen to the muscle that are causing your stress headache...and to your brain.
- Take a ten-minute "vacation." Put your head down and do a little daydreaming about being somewhere else. Think your happy thoughts.
- Try some acupressure. There are two pairs of acupressure points that help headaches. The first pair is one to one-and-a-half inches on either side of the occipital bone on the back of your head. Put your thumbs over those points and rub with firm pressure in small circles. The other point is between your thumb and forefinger, just to the side of the bone of your finger. Rub with the opposite thumb for a few minutes, and then switch hands.
You can get rid of your stress headache. Learn to take good care of yourself, and maybe you can keep from getting another one.
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