How to ease a tension headache

By Brooke Strickland

Tension headaches: we’ve all had them.  The tension and stress of day to day life can get to us sometimes, and many times this manifests in the form of a headache.  Next time you get a headache, instead of reaching for that bottle of pills to help, try some of these remedies to cure it first.

Rest: resting in a dark, quiet room can help bring calm and alleviate a throbbing head.  Close your eyes, sit and relax, and rest your back, neck, and shoulders.  Deep breathing exercises can also help, while focused relaxation on areas that are feeling especially tight can help ease pain.

Caffeine: Grab a cup of coffee and start sipping.  Caffeine can help take away headache pain faster than pills – that’s why it is often added to migraine medications as part of its active ingredients.

Hot/cold treatments: Treating your neck, shoulders, forehead, or temples with hot and cold packs can help greatly.  Take a hot shower, and then apply a cold pack.  Or, try treating with a hot water bottle or hot compress, then wrap an icepack in a towel and apply it where you’re hurting most.

Massage: Massages can work wonders.  Having a massage can help relieve tight, clenched muscles and in turn, help alleviate the formation of tension headaches.  Don’t worry, if you can’t find someone to massage your neck and shoulders at the last minute, you can do it yourself.  Find a tennis ball and lean up against it in a chair.  Rolling the ball around the middle section of your back can help loosen muscles.  Or sit in a dimly lit room and rub your temples or shoulders yourself while slowly stretching your shoulder and neck muscles.

If these tactics don’t help lessen the pain you’re feeling, over the counter medications can help.  However, if you are experiencing chronic, long-lasting headaches that are frequent and last more than a few days, you need to seek medical attention.  In addition, if you develop sudden, sharp headaches that come with nausea, vomiting, dizziness, confusion, fever, or seizures, go to urgent care and seek attention fast, as these may be signs of a more serious problem.