how to relieve tension headaches
Health and Wellness

How to Relieve Tension Headaches

Jul 11, 2023

Headaches are a common health ailment, with most people experiencing an average of one to two episodic headaches per month. Tension headaches, however, can range from acute to chronic and are the most common type of headache people have. Learning how to get rid of a tension headache as quickly as possible may be possible with a few simple lifestyle adjustments and actions.


Today, we’re discussing the cause of tension headaches, ways to avoid triggers, and how to relieve tension headaches naturally. Don’t let acute or chronic tension headaches disrupt your life. Read on, and discover how to work through them and prevent them from happening as often.

What Causes Tension Headaches?


Tension headaches are physical signs of stress that may impact your neck and back, while frequently causing pain behind the eyes. This pain can range from mild discomfort to debilitating pain, making it vital to find the trigger to address how to relieve tension headache symptoms. The first step to learning how to relieve tension headaches is understanding what causes them. As with any health ailment, the best way to treat it relies on identifying the source. 


Common causes of tension headaches include:


  • Stress
  • Clenching your jaw
  • Eye strain
  • Fatigue or sleep deprivation
  • Illness like a cold or flu
  • Poor posture
  • Dehydration

If you’re experiencing chronic tension headaches, consult your doctor for professional medical guidance and to rule out any more serious underlying conditions.

How to Relieve Tension Headaches Naturally


We’ve covered some of the common causes, so now let’s take a look at how to relieve tension headaches naturally. If you’ve ever experienced one, you know how important it is to know how to get rid of a tension headache as quickly as possible. With a few simple lifestyle adjustments or actions, you can be back on the path to being pain-free and not let your headache impede your daily life.


Some methods for how to relieve tension headaches are:


  1. Manage stress levels
  2. Exercise regularly
  3. Get a massage
  4. Avoid excessive caffeine or alcohol consumption
  5. Take breaks during activities
  6. Practice relaxation techniques
  7. Maintain good posture

1. Manage Stress Levels


The first, and most obvious, method for how to relieve tension headaches is to manage stress levels. Muscle contractions are a subconscious reaction to stress, which can quickly lead to tight muscles in the neck and back, resulting in a tension headache. Left unchecked, chronic stress elevation could yield chronic tension headaches and have a negative impact on your overall health and well-being in the long term.


There are numerous ways to help manage stress levels more effectively as part of how to relieve tension headache pain. One of the most popular is practicing meditation. Others may enjoy journaling, practicing gratitude, or taking some time out each day for self care activities.


A reclining massage chair with heat may also provide a wide array of benefits for tension and stress, keeping you feeling your best and avoiding this common health ailment. Luxury massage chairs help you decompress after a long day at work, a busy day running errands, or post-workout.


Bonus: Tension headaches may transition into migraines. Check out our guide on how to prevent migraines naturally next.

2. Exercise Regularly


As you learn how to relieve tension headaches, you’ll quickly see how exercising regularly may help. When you’re in the middle of a tension headache, you may not think more physical activity is going to provide relief, but the processes in your body that occur as you exercise actually work to alleviate pain all over the body.


Exercises like jogging, cycling, or swimming help your body produce endorphins. Endorphins are natural hormones commonly referred to as “feel-good hormones” that can elevate mood, alleviate pain, and boost physical and mental health.

3. Get a Massage


If managing stress levels is paramount toward how to relieve tension headaches, consider getting a massage to be the ultimate alternative therapy treatment for the condition. Getting a massage helps to alleviate muscle tension, lower cortisol levels naturally to reduce stress, help your body recover, and even help your mind. Massages are not acts of vanity but are important self care activities to keep you feeling your best.


Making regular massage appointments can be difficult with a busy schedule plus adds up in expenses over time. Instead, many people have turned to the benefits of massage therapy at home using a massage chair. Today’s luxury massage chairs have eliminated almost all major differences between using a massage chair vs human massage. Providing many types of massage programs, you can choose whichever massage technique you need at the touch of a button.


Other massage chair features like heat therapy (another alternative tension headache treatment), chromotherapy, and even AI massage technology enhance your overall experience and could help with how to relieve tension headache pain quickly. Massage chairs are great for headaches, body aches, relaxation, and alleviating other potential pain that moves around the body

4. Avoid Caffeine or Alcohol Overconsumption


This tip for how to relieve tension headaches may sound contradictory to advice you’ve heard before. While it’s been shown that some caffeine may help fend off smaller headaches, too much caffeine (or alcohol) may actually contribute towards tension headaches or migraines. 


Getting more than 400 milligrams of caffeine a day, which is equal to roughly 4 cups of coffee, can cause headaches. It may sound like a lot, but be mindful that caffeine may be present if you drink coffee, some teas, soft drinks, and even eat certain foods.

5. Take Breaks


Just like managing work-related stress can help with how to relieve tension headaches, so can taking breaks during activities throughout the day.


At work, this means getting up from your desk regularly to stretch and keep your body loose. At home, this may mean taking an electronics break as you relax during the evening to avoid subconscious bad posture and overexposure to blue light causing eye strain.

6. Practice Relaxation Techniques


While using a heated massage chair or journaling may help your mind relax some, there are specific relaxation techniques you should consider as you learn how to relieve tension headaches. These techniques may be especially helpful for those experiencing chronic tension headaches, as many are easy to do on the go whenever pain hits.


Some of the easiest techniques to practice are calming breathing exercises. Breath exercises like deep, slow inhales and exhales can help settle your mind, lower blood pressure, and alleviate headache pain. You might also try meditation apps like Calm for guided meditation programs or other relaxation exercises.


Even a few minutes each day practicing relaxation techniques could make a noticeable impact on your overall health moving forward.

7. Maintain Good Posture


Last up on our list of methods for how to relieve tension headaches is maintaining good posture. Too many of us have subconscious bad sitting habits that can quickly translate into pain from sitting too long such as tension headaches. Learning how to improve posture may take a bit of self-reminding, but eventually, it’ll become second-nature and a new healthy habit that keeps you feeling your best.


Work Tip: For those who sit for prolonged periods of time while working, good posture is even more imminently important. Find out how to create an ergonomic workspace at home or at the office to keep your spine in alignment and your tension headaches at bay.

Avoiding Tension Headache Triggers


While it’s important to know how to relieve tension headaches once they’ve begun, it’s equally as important to know how to avoid them altogether. Each person is different, so identifying triggers for your acute or chronic tension headaches will make it easier to create an environment free from your triggers or practice activities that aid in preventing them in your daily life.


For example, biofeedback could help you improve the effectiveness of your relaxation exercises. This mind-body technique is an alternative tension headache therapy focused on helping you try to control bodily functions like your heart rate. While not touted as the perfect remedy, biofeedback therapy may be helpful for alleviating and preventing chronic tension headaches.


Other potential ways to avoid tension headache triggers include:


  • Being mindful of scents in your surroundings
  • Simplifying your life to avoid unnecessary stress
  • Setting healthy boundaries at work and in your personal life
  • Avoiding blue light exposure with protective equipment like eyewear
  • Quitting smoking and staying clear of smoky areas
  • Doing daily morning and evening stretches

Learning what triggers may affect you most will be vital information as you learn how to relieve a tension headache or prevent one from occurring.


With so many different factors, finding the most effective methods for how to relieve tension headaches may take a little trial and error. As with any form of health treatment, consult your doctor before starting a new routine. Once you’ve been given the green light, try out tension headache relief and prevention techniques like exercising, changing up your dietary habits, or choosing a massage chair to see what works best for you.
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