Stress and Headache Relief – Short Term and Long Term

There is nothing worse than being put under pressure especially when the stress levels rise and a headache begins. As your stress level officially goes off the charts, a headache starts to form in a tight band around your forehead. So how do you get some stress and headache relief so you can get on with your work and your day?

Stress and Headache Relief – Short Term

Up to 80% of people suffer and seek relief from stress headaches at one time or another. Stress headaches are usually caused by the tightening of the muscles in your upper back, shoulders, neck, and scalp.

One quick fix for tension headaches, then, is to focus on relaxing those muscle groups. Shrug your shoulders tight and then release them. Then roll your shoulders backwards and forwards. Gently rotate your head in a circle. Give yourself a quick scalp massage. Close your eyes for a few moments and try to picture the tension flowing from your body.

It may also help to step away from the stressful situation for a few minutes, if you can. Take a short walk, escape to the bathroom, step into a supply closet if you have to. Use your break to try a few relaxing affirmations. “I am calm. I am competent. I can handle this situation.”

Another stress and headache relief technique is to take a hot bath or shower as soon as possible (i.e., the minute you get home from work). If the shower-head has a massage setting, use it. Set the water temperature to as warm as you can tolerate it. Try to imagine the water soaking into your muscles, breaking up the tension, and carrying it away.

If all else fails, stress headaches usually respond fairly well to mild pain relievers such as aspirin, Tylenol, ibuprofen, Aleve, etc. However, it is important not to make a habit of treating stress headaches with medications. Eventually, they will stop working as well for you.

Stress and Headache Relief – Long Term

If you seek relief from stress and headaches frequently, say once a week or more, you probably need to focus on long-term stress management. It may help to see a therapist or counselor for a few visits to learn some stress relief techniques such as biofeedback or progressive relaxation.

A massage every week or two can be an especially pleasurably way to completely relax your body. Ask your massage therapist for ideas about keeping your muscles loose between massages. A regular exercise program, while not nearly as enjoyable as a relaxing massage, can also help put you in a relaxed state.

Finally, if your stress is severe, negatively affects your life, and does not seem to respond to other methods, consult your doctor. He will be able to offer you professional help with either medication or therapy.

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About Jennifer Johnson

I suffered with social anxiety and stress for years. I discovered what my triggers were and learned to control them. Hopefully some of the natural anxiety relief techniques I have tried, will also be your solution.


  1. Stress headaches (more commonly known as tension headaches) are often caused by a misalignment in the cervical vertebrae (neck bones). A visit to your chiropractor can do wonders in combination with massage to restore the normal spinal alignment and keep the muscles relaxed for longer.

  2. Thanks for this article!
    I also believe that massage can relieve headaches – but you know some headaches need medical treatment.
    The type of headaches that are successfully treated with massage are what we call ‘tension headaches’ which are created from tension accumulated in your body.

    • Yes, unfortunately I do know some headaches need medical treatment. My father had cluster headaches (1 headache lasted for 3 months straight, and it came every year in September), he dreaded that time of year and he resorted to medical treatment.

      I prefer all natural therapies, chiropractic, massage and herbal remedies. There is nothing better than a visit to the chiropractor and massage therapist 🙂

  3. Jeff Clark DC says

    A trip to your chiropractor should be your first stop, however just recently we had a family friend (college freshman) start developing migraines and has a brain tumor. Please consult a professional if you have headaches or migraines, it could save your life!

    p.s There is no such thing as a “normal” headache – headaches mean there is a problem, and usually can be resolved with chiropractic.

    • Yes, a trip to the chiropractor certainly helps my migraines. Its always the same spot in the neck and fortunately they are getting less because of my visits.

      Watching people suffering with headaches is always a concern. Even when someone has what we call a ‘normal’ headache, it is always because of a reason. Most women know this all too well!

      I suppose I call a ‘normal’ headache one that wasn’t like my father’s cluster headaches…but I don’t see that anyone has referred to any headache as being normal here.

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