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Top Tips To Reduce Stress Headaches

21 February 2022

The Cost of Stress

Stress headaches can be chronic, debilitating, and incredibly common for those who are used to working hard, balancing deadlines with Zoom meetings. Many of us have accepted them as a part of daily life - but we don’t have to commit to daily painkillers and a short temper for life.

Whilst it may not always be easy to manage our workload and its contributions to our stress levels, there are other lifestyle steps we can take to reduce the strength and frequency of stress headaches.

Our top tips below can make your work day more productive, and your down time more enjoyable. Let’s take a look.

Tips To Reduce Stress Headaches

Keep Active

It’s all too easy to lead an increasingly sedentary lifestyle these days, but it could be exacerbating your stress levels. Making time to keep active can not only make a huge difference to your health and energy levels, but your headache frequencies as well.

Regular activity can do your body a world of good. Aside from minimising your risk of several chronic cardiovascular diseases, improving your sleep quality, and lifting your mood, consistent exercise actively reduces the levels of stress within the body.

Whatever kind of activity you can add into your working week, the act of movement will lower stress and boost endorphins, your body’s “feel-good” chemicals. These chemicals act to optimise all processes within the body and keep you in the best health possible. As little as 20 to 40 minutes of exercise, three times a week, could be enough for you to start noticing a difference. So, let’s get moving!

Get Better Sleep 

Poor sleep is known to increase the body’s stress response, which will inevitably lead to higher stress levels, shorter patience, and more frequent or stronger tension headaches. With long work days and extensive chores on most of our daily to-do lists, improving sleep quality can seem impossible - but just a few simple changes could lead to an immediate improvement in sleep, which can lead to an overall better quality of life; including fewer tension headaches.

Giving yourself a little time to unwind before bed without any digital screens, and keeping to a more a regular sleep schedule, could be some great first steps to improving your sleep quality long term. Whenever you need to start your day in the morning, allowing time for you to get approximately seven to eight hours sleep a night will be optimum to give you the best chance of quality rest. No matter how many steps you’re able to implement, even a small improvement to your sleep quality could greatly reduce your tension headaches.

Nourish Your Body

Eating a healthy, balanced diet can ensure your mind and body are kept nourished with a complete mix of minerals, vitamins, and macro- and micronutrients. With a diverse diet, your body will be able to manage stressors better, and respond more quickly to physical symptoms of stress and illness in the body. Keeping your kitchen well stocked to make healthy eating quick and easy is one of the simplest means of defence against stress headaches.

Anti-inflammatory foods in particular, such as fatty fish, whole grains, and dark, leafy greens should be a priority on your shopping list. Keeping hydrated throughout the day whilst minimising caffeine can also help reduce intensity and frequency of headaches.

Maintain Good Posture

Oftentimes, tension headaches can be brought on by stress held elsewhere in the body. Neck and back strain, in particular, can lead to tension in the head that, over time, can lead to intense headaches.

An upright walking stance and unhindered seated position are essentials to maintaining strong and healthy posture. Gentle stretching exercises to counteract stoops or haunches, and working not to round your shoulders when working at a desk can also help. When it comes to your workspace, ensure your computer or laptop screen sits at eye level to avoid craning your neck, and consider investing in specialised ergonomic furniture to keep you supported throughout the day.

Use Relaxation Techniques

You may not be able to reduce your stress load, but you can manage how you react to stress. Utilising relaxation methods can help you process stress and allow you to to release it from your body instead of internalising it, which can lead to tension headaches.

Meditation, exercise, deep breathing, or offloading with a friend or colleague can all be brilliant tools to process and release stress. Take time to experiment with each of these techniques to see what works for you, and what can fit alongside your schedule. Making reliable relaxation techniques a habit can be a great help to lessen headaches caused by stress.

Take a Breather

If life is frequently getting busy and hectic for you, you’re likely very used to managing tension headaches. Learning to take time out for yourself and making space for this in your weekly schedule can make a huge difference to the physical symptoms of stress.

Allow yourself time to step out from stressful situations. Even just taking a short walk, getting some fresh air, or stepping out in the garden for five or ten minutes can interrupt the stress processes in your mind and let you reset and release tension.

The action of taking a break - whatever that means for you - allows you to shift your awareness onto something new, calming the mind and body down and granting a new perspective on stressors. Breaking a large task into smaller chunks, for instance, can help create breaks to step away from work and take a breather, without falling behind on deadlines.