Stress-related headaches can have a significant impact on your quality of life, interfering with your ability to do your job, spend time with your family, or go about your daily activities in a variety of ways without relief.
As headaches interfere with your ability to perform regular tasks, things can start to add up, and you may soon feel as if you are completely losing control of your ability to manage even the most basic tasks—which, in turn, can add more stress to your plate, predisposing you to have even longer, more intense stress-related headaches. It is a seemingly never-ending cycle, but there is a way out.
Physical therapy can aid in the treatment of stress-related headaches. In fact, as stated by Choose PT, “There is an effective treatment for almost every type of headache.” Working with a physical therapist can help you identify tension-relieving exercises and find long-term headache relief without the use of pain medication.
What’s causing my stress-related headaches?
The simple answer to this question is stress, but the real answer is much more complicated. Stress can manifest in a variety of ways, and coping mechanisms are not always available.
Stress can be caused by a variety of activities, some of which you may enjoy doing, but that doesn’t mean they don’t weigh on you, creating an additional level of pressure that can manifest in painful headaches.
Tension and migraine headaches are frequently triggered by stress. Rather than focusing on ways to avoid stress, it may be more beneficial to consider strategies for relieving headaches once they occur, as well as stress-reduction techniques that may prevent stress from reaching your head first.
How can I relieve my headaches at home?
If stress is causing headaches to develop in your life, then finding ways to relax to reduce the build-up of that stress may be helpful.
Some of the most common forms of stress reduction therapy include meditation, yoga, tai chi, and deep breathing techniques.
Other habits that can also sometimes help to alleviate stress include listening to music, dancing, engaging in exercise, reading a book, or spending time with loved ones—especially pets!
Here are a few lifestyle habits that are shown to reduce stress:
Simplify as much as possible. While it sometimes feels that the only way to manage stress is to squeeze as much into a day so that you can tackle your endless to-do list, sometimes what you actually need is to simplify your life. Ask yourself what really needs to be done and focus on that.
Eat as healthy as possible. What you put into your body makes a big impact on what your body is able to handle. Try eating a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains to help prepare your body for the stress you need it to handle.
Get enough sleep. Sleep isn’t something that can be compromised when it comes to managing stress. Staying up late to get a task done is only going to lead to more stress. Try to get a sufficient amount of sleep daily so that you can handle what’s ahead.
One of the most effective things that you can do to help reduce the impact that stress has on your life is to work on adjusting the way that you react to stressors.
Changing your attitude and becoming more open to things that would have previously stressed you out can significantly help improve the way your body copes with stressful events. Try making simple shifts in the way that you think about stressful events.
Simply shift from considering something as “impossible” to “tough, but possible.” Look at ways that you can rise to a challenge versus how overwhelming the challenge feels.
What can a physical therapist do to help relieve my headaches?
If you are experiencing chronic headaches as a result of stress, then physical therapy may be able to help you find relief from that pain.
In many cases stress headaches will develop as a result of tension that builds up in the neck and back.
Working with our physical therapist can help you target areas of tension, thereby helping to alleviate pain and improve your quality of life.
There are several strategies that physical therapists often use to help with stress headaches. These include:
Hot and cold therapy: Applying hot and cold compresses in an alternating rotation can help to reduce tension and alleviate pain.
Massage: Identifying areas that have tension build up and targeting them with massage therapy can help to alleviate head pain.
Manual exercises: Your physical therapist can help you to identify exercises that will help you reduce tension naturally by improving your range of motion and stretching your muscles in a relaxing manner.
Ready to find relief for your headaches?
If you have frequent headaches as a result of stress, such as tension or migraine headaches, you should speak with your physical therapist to learn about the therapeutic options available to help you experience pain relief.