6 Ways to Tame Tension Headaches Once and For All
You know that feeling like there’s a tight band wrapped around your head, squeezing and causing throbbing, pressure and pain? That’s a tension headache, and up to 80 percent of adults in the U.S. get them. They can be brief—going away in just 30 minutes—or they can stretch out over the course of a week. And although they aren’t as severe as migraines, which can affect vision and make you feel nauseous, they can still impact your personal and professional life. To help ease the pain, we compiled the top six ways to banish tension headaches—both in the moment and in the future.
The moment one strikes:
- If you can, lie down in a quiet, dark room with a cool washcloth on your head.
- Take a bath or shower (hot or cold—whatever works best for you). This relaxes tense muscles and releases the pressure in your head.
- Over-the-counter pain medication like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can get you back to normal quickly.
What’s better than quickly getting rid of a headache? Never having one to begin with! Here’s how to avoid them down the road:
- Tension headaches are also referred to as stress headaches, and for good reason: Stress and anxiety are the most common triggers. It could be stress at home (over a child who isn’t doing well in school or a fight with your partner), work (deadlines or worrying about getting let go) or even just over everyday life issues (feeling stretched too thin or thinking you need to be a perfectionist). That’s why it’s worth exploring different methods for relaxing and reducing stress, like meditation or yoga.
- Start keeping a “headache diary.” Jot down what you were thinking about, things you ate or the kind of situation you were in before the headache struck. That will help you notice if there are specific triggers you should avoid. The answer might be as simple as cutting out food that’s overly spicy.
- When you overexert yourself physically, it can lead to a tension headache. And you might be doing that without even realizing it. That’s why experts suggest improving your posture and avoiding eye strain related to prolonged computer use as a way to cut down on the frequency of headaches.
Photo credit: Aldo Cavini Benedetti