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Reduce Stress to Help Prevent Headaches


Reduce Stress to Help Prevent Headaches

Headaches seem to be more common during stressful times (or right after you've relaxed from one). Add regular stress-reduction activities to your daily schedule to help prevent headaches.

  • Get regular aerobic exercise. Walking, cycling, jogging, swimming, or even dancing or gardening are great ways to relieve stress. If you tend to hold tension in your neck and shoulders, walking may be especially helpful. The swinging motion of the arms seems to relax those muscles.
  • Practice a relaxation exercise once or twice a day for 10 to 20 minutes. Massage is also relaxing, whether from a professional or a spouse/partner.
  • If problems at home, work, school, or in your personal relationships are causing stress, don't ignore them. Talk with a trusted friend, clergy member, or health professional. Find a way to express your feelings and try to resolve the situation. Keeping your problems inside can increase stress and lead to headaches.
  • Stay on a regular sleep schedule. Try to go to sleep and get up at nearly the same time every day. Try hard not to take naps, even if you are very tired. Irregular sleep habits are headache triggers in many people.
  • Find a healthy outlet for the stresses of daily life. Exercise, do arts and crafts, write in a journal, play with children or pets, watch a funny movie, read, or cook a healthy meal. Whatever activities give you pleasure can also help relieve stress.

Stress is sometimes the result of unconscious or involuntary negative thoughts you may have in response to a stressful situation or a problem. Professional counseling may help you recognize these negative ways of coping with stress and replace them with others that don't cause as much stress.

For additional general information on reducing stress, see the topic Stress Management.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerAnne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerColin Chalk, MD, CM, FRCPC - Neurology
Last RevisedJanuary 27, 2012

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

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