What Does a Stress Headache Feel Like? What Are the Symptoms?

What does a stress headache feel like? Is it different than other headaches, caused by other reasons? What do you need to know about them?

Stress is a natural process. It is a response to the need to adapt to our environment. However, when it is permanent and intense it can be harmful to our health

Stress is something we feel almost every day. Among its most annoying symptoms are back pain and muscle tension. Everything is the product of excessive worry, mental exhaustion and the accumulation of emotional tension. However, a stress headache becomes an even more common and annoying symptom.

According to a study carried out at Bucheon University and Hospital, located in South Korea, stress is the most common trigger for migraines.

While it is true that there are those who experience a headache of mild intensity, which disappears the moment they relax, but in other cases it is not so easy to combat this discomfort.

The symptoms also vary in each person. In addition to headaches, there are those who experience insomnia and fatigue. Now, depending on the frequency with which the pain occurs, certain measures or others will have to be resorted to. In this sense, it will not be the same to treat a sporadic headache than one that occurs for several days in a row due to chronic stress

Stress headache can occur along with other symptoms: chest tightness, blurred vision or vision of moving black spots, sweating, insomnia, irritability, etc.

The causes that originate a headache can range from those associated with a cold, fatigue or sleep, to allergies that cause sinusitis, to psychic ones, such as those caused by the classic worry. Without a doubt, stress is one of those psychic causes that most often causes headaches.

Some causes of headaches

As revealed to us from a study carried out at the University of Warwik, in the United Kingdom, 1 in 30 people has a headache on a regular basis. Today, in view of this great incidence, more and more programs are being developed to better manage these situations.

Thus, one of those channels to better cope with the fact of living with a headache is to know what causes it. Let’s look at some triggers.

  • Stress.
  • Keeping your head in the same position for a long time.
  • Working a lot of time in front of the computer, according to this study carried out by the Ramón Pando Ferrer Cuban Institute of Ophthalmology (Cuba).
  • Abnormal position of the head when sleeping.
  • Pulling or fatigue of the eye muscles.
  • Smoke. This is stated in this study carried out by the University of Salamanca (Spain).
  • Caffeine abuse. This research carried out by the Universidade de la Sabana suggests so.
  • Sinusitis or nasal congestion.
  • Cold or flu.

What does a stress headache feel like?

As we have pointed out, stress headaches are the most common.

Daily worries are undoubtedly the biggest trigger. The difference between worrying and simple thinking is huge.

Worry is nothing more than the anticipation of an uncertain future situation; It is like a long question that has no end.

When you think, you look for solutions to problems. However, when you worry, you get stuck in the same reasoning pattern. This leads to muscle tension and therefore headaches.

From a psychological point of view, learning to manage triggers is essential to avoid stress headaches. We cannot forget that these conditions mobilize our brain chemistry and alter the balance of the muscles, vertebrae and nerves of the skull.

When stress is mild or temporary, it does not cause harm. However, when it lasts for a long time, the body remains in a state of alert which causes a weakening of the body’s defenses, according to this study carried out by the Center Hospitalier Rouffach (France).

Headache caused by stress is the result of contraction of the muscles of the neck and scalp.

Symptoms of a stress headache

  • Low intensity, annoying and continuous headache. It can be isolated or repeated daily
  • Widespread and stronger pain in the temple, scalp, and the back of the neck
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty to sleep
  • Muscle pain (shoulders and upper back)
  • Sensitivity to changes in weather, noise and light
  • When the pain is mild it can be treated with home remedies. However, if the pain is strong and persistent, you should see a doctor.

Actions to reduce them

If you add other symptoms to the stress headache, such as muscle tension or teeth grinding, we could end up suffering intense pain that affects our quality of life.

Therefore, it becomes necessary to be able to handle the situations in our daily life that negatively affect our state of mind. For instance:

Enjoy pleasant activities such as listening to music, reading, playing sports, dancing or playing with your pet.

Take a moment to do a relaxation exercise, through techniques such as breathing, deep, yoga, and meditation.

Make your life easier: choose what activities you should do and manage your time efficiently.

Seek support. Talking with family or friends allows you to better overcome problems and manage stress.

Get rid of negative thoughts. This way you can cope with stressful environments.

Being in a good mood is a way to counteract stress, as stated in this study carried out by the University of Barcelona. In this way we release endorphins that contribute to a positive attitude.

Exercising prevents and fights stress.

Give yourself massages. With a partner or with a professional with whom you feel comfortable.

In case the pain is caused by the cold, stay warm.

Change your sleeping position. Also, adopt good posture when reading, working or exercising. Sleep and rest properly.

Exercise your neck and shoulders frequently.

The stress headache is that workhorse with which a good part of the population lives. Let’s learn to handle it to live better.

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