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Posted 02/15/2023 by Amelia Grant

6 Ways to Manage Tension Headaches

6 Ways to Manage Tension Headaches

If you've ever experienced a tension headache, you know how significantly it can ruin your day. This type of headache generally appears in the afternoon, generating mild to severe discomfort that may feel like a band of pressure or a dull tightness. Tension headaches arise when the muscles in the neck, shoulders, and scalp become stiff. 

Some people have tension headaches occasionally, while others get them constantly. While tension headaches are seldom incapacitating, they may definitely make life difficult. Here is a list of six ways to manage tension headaches.

1. Take NSAIDs

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are medications that are used to treat inflammation, pain, and fever. They can help relieve tension headaches with a single intake. You can try the following over-the-counter (OTC) medications:

  • Ibuprofen (Motrin) 400 mg to 600 mg

  • Naproxen (Aleve) 220 mg to 550 mg

  • Aspirin 500 mg to 650 mg

There is no proof that one of these is superior to the others. You may use any NSAID you choose or have on hand.

2. Limit your caffeine intake

We're not going to tell you that you have to stop drinking coffee. In fact, a little caffeine is helpful for blood flow, so your morning mug of coffee may do more than simply wake you up; it may help avoid the formation of a tension headache. However, too much caffeine can stimulate the body to the point that headaches are more frequent, thus it is time to give up the daily habit of a complete pot of coffee.

3. Try some breathing exercises

Breathwork benefits include promoting relaxation, lowering anxiety, revitalizing you, and reducing physical and emotional stress. Breathing exercises can also help reduce muscular tension. This approach, used in Pilates workouts, oxygenates your body while also reducing muscular tension in the rib cage and thoracic spine. Here's a quick rundown on how to do this basic breathing exercise:

Begin with a calm, five-count inhalation through your nostrils. Then, on the count of five, exhale your breath through your mouth. Imagine the stress in your head, neck, shoulders, and back disappearing with each inhalation. To alleviate general physical and emotional stress, repeat this cycle five to ten times.

4. Get adequate sleep

Every day, including on weekends, get up and go to bed at the same hour. Before you head to bed, take some time to relax. If you haven't fallen asleep after 15 minutes, get up and do something relaxing until you're sleepy. Avoid medications containing coffee or other stimulants that might disrupt sleep. Some headache medications fall under this category.

5. Use heating pads and cold packs

Warm and cold compresses are low-cost headache remedies that have been used for centuries. There isn't much evidence that heat or cold treatment works consistently for everyone. However, because these treatments are safe and effective for many people, there is no danger in giving them a try.

You can place an ice pack, cold compress, or cold pack on your neck or temples for 15 minutes. Just be sure you first wrap it in a towel. Heat treatment may provide more relief for some people. Use a hot water bottle, warm compress, or heat pack that has been wrapped in a towel. Apply it to the same spot for 15 minutes. A warm shower can also give soothing heat.

6. Give yourself a massage

Gently massaging the muscles in your scalp, temples, or the base of your neck will help reduce the tension that is causing your headache. If you clench, grind, or retain tension in your face, you can also target your masseter muscle—the large muscle that joins your jawline and cheekbone. When your jaw gets too tight, it can cause other muscles in your head and neck to tighten as well. Tension headaches can occur when the pressure is too severe.

Posted By

Amelia Grant

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