Tension headaches can cause intense discomfort or dull pain in your forehead, neck, and back of the head. Typically triggered by overwhelming stressors in life, tension headaches are a common occurrence amongst adults. Though, many home remedies for a tension headache offer relief and can help prevent new episodes later.
Tension headaches, also called stress headaches, can last from thirty minutes to a couple of days before subsiding. Sometimes the pain will intensify throughout the day, and other times it might ease up as the day goes on. In both cases, though, the pain is typically persistent in the back of your mind.
These headaches usually cause pain on both sides of the head. Unlike migraines, you will not experience nausea, vomiting, or light sensitivity during a tension headache. Since the biggest trigger of tension headaches is stress, those who live high-stress lives tend to experience them more often. Thus, some people call these stress headaches.
If you experience tension headaches, it could interfere with your ability to do daily tasks. You might struggle at work, avoid experiences, and neglect your relationships as you deal with the pain. Luckily, simple lifestyle changes and home remedies for tension headaches can relieve it.
Try These Ten Home Remedies for Tension Headaches
Try these tension headache home remedies to relieve the pain.
If you aren’t consuming enough vitamins and minerals, your body can’t function properly. When that happens, you can quickly experience tension headaches and other health concerns. Eating a healthy breakfast is most important, as it gives your body nutrients right from the start.
Almonds are a healthy snack option if you have a tension headache because they promote muscle relaxation. They contain potassium, vitamin E, magnesium, and also pain-relieving chemicals.
Additionally, the vitamin B complex is essential to produce energy for your brain, prevent headaches, maintain normal functions, and produce myelin. If you experience a deficiency of vitamin B complex, it can cause intense tension headaches.
Some of the foods that can help alleviate and prevent tension headaches include:
As you begin to implement healthier foods into your diet, consider removing some unhealthy ones. Any food that contains phenylalanine and tyramine can increase the frequency of headaches. These amino acids and compounds are often found in artificial sweeteners, processed meats, smoked or fermented foods, and aged cheeses.
Other foods that can trigger or worsen the symptoms of a tension headache include the following:
- peanut butter
Eating well is to prevent them from happening, to begin with, is even better than seeking home remedies for tension headaches.
2. Exercise Regularly
When you exercise, chemicals are released in your body that block pain signals. Your brain won’t receive the pain signal, resulting in less pain and fewer tension headaches. Plus, exercise stimulates the production of endorphins, which are natural painkillers in your body.
Exercise is one of the best home remedies for tension headaches because you can choose any physical activity you want. Consider walking, running, swimming, cycling, or other forms of exercise that you enjoy.
A large study of over 92,000 people showed that low levels of physical activity were associated with an increased risk of headaches. If you know that you don’t get enough exercise, start taking small measures to get moving. For starters, park further away from the store so that you get more steps throughout the day.
3. Get Enough Sleep
Sleep deprivation is a frequent tension headache trigger. People who get less than six hours of sleep each night experience more frequent and intense episodes. Waking up often during the night can compromise your ability to get quality sleep, too, resulting in headaches.
If you have trouble falling asleep or resting for an entire night, try creating a restful environment in your bedroom. Use blackout curtains, white noise machines, and anything else that can improve your sleep quality.
Following the same sleep routine every day, even on weekends, can help prevent tension headaches in the future. Avoid caffeine in the hours before bed, too, if it makes you unable to fall asleep at bedtime. Getting adequate sleep is one of the most useful tension headache natural home treatments you could try.
4. Avoid Taking Too Much Caffeine
Some caffeine can reduce headaches, especially if you are used to heavy caffeine intake. If you consume too much caffeine, though, it can cause headaches and intense irritability. Any more than 400 milligrams of caffeine each day can increase the frequency and intensity of your tension headaches.
While 400 milligrams might sound like quite a bit of caffeine, it only equals around four cups of coffee. Those who drink caffeine all day likely exceed this limit before lunchtime. Be careful, though, because stopping caffeine or cutting back too quickly can also trigger tension headaches.
5. Stop Smoking
Nicotine in cigarette smoke can cause headaches in a few different ways. First, it stimulates a reaction in the pain-sensitive nerves at the back of your throat, triggering tension headaches. That’s not the only way that stopping smoking can work as a home remedy for tension headaches, though.
Nicotine in cigarette smoke limits blood flow to your brain as it forces your blood vessels to constrict. Decreased blood flow limits brain activity, which is a factor of headaches. Additionally, reduced blood flow to the meninges induces severe pain in the face or back of the head.
Too much stress can quickly trigger tension headaches. Learning to manage your stress can make all the difference in alleviating the frequency and intensity. Start getting your stress under control by planning and productively organizing your day.
When you plan your day, make sure to include time to relax and destress. If you struggle with relaxing, practice relaxation techniques to help you manage your stress levels. Some methods you can try include these activities:
- deep breathing
- taking a walk
- practicing meditation
- taking a hot shower
- soaking in a tub
- taking a short nap
- doing yoga
- writing in a journal
- focusing on artistic expression
A massage helps relieve muscle tension and reduce stress. It is most beneficial for the muscles in the back of your head, neck, and shoulders. As pressure is applied to your muscles and soft tissues by a massage therapist, you will experience benefits such as headache relief and prevention.
Massage helps with many conditions, including stress-related illness, sleep problems, pain, high blood pressure, and other ailments. Each of these problems can trigger tension headaches, furthering the ability to control them with a massage.
If you can’t get a professional massage, you can do a small session safely on yourself to help relieve headache pain. Using the tips of your fingers, gently massage around your neck, ears, and forehead. As you go along, gently move the skin back and forth for ultimate relief.
8. Stay Hydrated
The body requires significant amounts of water to maintain proper functioning. Most people don’t consume the recommended amount and end up in a perpetual state of dehydration. When you’re dehydrated, it causes frequent headaches.
If dehydration is the cause of your headache, drinking plenty of water and relieve your symptoms in as little as thirty minutes. By staying hydrated all of the time, you will experience fewer tension headaches overall. You can boost your water intake by consuming water-rich foods and choosing water over other beverage options.
Aim for at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day, but keep in mind that these might not be the most beneficial amount. If this seems like a lot to you, try sipping on water constantly during the day, even when you aren’t thirsty.
9. Avoid Drinking Alcohol
Research shows that alcohol commonly triggers tension headaches in people that experience frequent ones. Alcohol widens the blood vessels in the body, causing blood to flow too quickly and freely. When this happens, it causes intense headaches.
Alcohol also causes you to lose fluids and electrolytes through frequent urination, which can cause dehydration and more headaches. If you decide to drink, make sure you drink plenty of water to make up for it.
While a couple of drinks is fine for most people, those that experience frequent headaches might experience a headache after only one. Pay attention to the way you feel after consuming an alcoholic beverage. If it seems to trigger your headaches, avoid it entirely.
10. Use Cold Or Hot Compresses
Using a cold or hot compress can help reduce the pain of your tension headache. Use an ice pack, wrapped ice, or frozen vegetables for a cold compress, but use a cloth to protect your skin. Put the compress on your head, temples, or neck to decrease inflammation, reduce nerve conduction, and constrict blood vessels.
For a hot compress, use a heating pad, a hot-water bottle, or a hot towel. A hot bath or shower will have the same effect, so consider that, as well. Since tension headaches are often stress-induced, the heat will relax your muscles and offer relief.
Now that you know how to treat tension headaches at home, you might be able to skip the chemical pain relievers.
Although there are many over-the-counter headache remedies, they don’t treat the source of the problem. These home remedies for tension headaches promote a lifestyle change that can alleviate the root of your headache. It encourages increased well-being and health, and it can prevent future headaches from creeping in.
Try these home remedies for tension headaches right away so that the pain and discomfort don’t take over your life. Since it’ll alleviate the root of the issue, too, it’ll reduce the number of headaches you get all together.