11 Tips To Get Rid Of Tension Headaches Quickly


Throbbing or pressing headache. Some suffer from it on a daily basis, without any other medical cause being found.

We call this tension headache: headache caused by tension in the muscles of the neck or head. A not serious, but annoying complaint.

Just think how it can affect your work and your daily activities if you have regular, sometimes daily, headaches.

Although the cause of a tension headache is not always apparent, there are many things you can do to prevent and alleviate a tension headache.

Read here 11 tips to relieve tension headaches!

Purpose of this article:In this article I will cover everything related to tension headaches. First what a tension headache is, then the symptoms, how it manifests, the difference between tension headache and migraine and finally 11 useful exercises and tips to reduce and Get Rid Of Tension Headaches Quickly.

Tension in the muscles in your neck and face (face) causes tension headaches. It is a common type of headache that occurs occasionally in some and very regularly in others.

The diagnosis is made by first ruling out that there is another medical cause behind the headache.

When you go to the doctor with headaches, he will therefore first investigate whether there is another reason for your headache.

If the examination shows that there is no medical cause for the headache, you will be diagnosed with a tension headache.

Fortunately nothing serious, but the complaints remain very annoying and disturbing and you cannot solve anything with medication in this case.

So looking for other soothing exercises and changes!

Tension headaches are usually a moderate headache that can last from a few minutes to several days.

There are no side effects with the pain and it does not get worse with exertion.

The pain is experienced differently by everyone, but is usually a pressing or tight feeling on both sides of the head.

In most cases there is therefore no clear cause, but in many people the headache is aggravated by fatigue, little or bad sleep, a wrong posture or if they are nervous.

Some people rarely suffer from tension headaches, others daily and for a long time.

Although there is no medical reason for the tension headache, there are certain risk factors that can increase your chance of a headache.

We make a distinction between physical factors, psychological factors or hormonal factors.

For example, your (work) posture, stress or a hormone fluctuation in a woman’s cycle can increase the chance that you will suffer from tension headaches.

Sometimes it is immediately clear what causes the headache, other times you can’t quite put your finger on it.

In this article we give you tips to prevent and reduce tension headaches as much as possible.

Tension Headache Symptoms

Many people experience the tension headache as a pressing pain that is located on both sides of the head. Others describe it as feeling like there’s a tight band around their head.

The pain can in many cases be described as mild to moderate and therefore not very severe. However, the pressing feeling is often very disturbing and annoying, especially if it lasts for a long time.

Some people experience concentration problems due to persistent tension headaches, but usually you can continue to perform most of your work with the headache.

Man waking up with a headache

The tension headache is not accompanied by severe side effects, otherwise there would be a different type of headache (eg migraine) or another medical cause.

However, in addition to the headache, you may suffer from:

Doctors recommend taking paracetamol for severe tension headaches. This can help you keep functioning well, despite the headache.

However, avoid taking paracetamol for too long and also look for other ways that provide relief by exercising a lot, relaxing and getting enough sleep.

Preventing and relieving tension headaches is always better than suppressing them with painkillers.

Tension headache in your neck

Tension in the muscles of your neck can cause a tension headache to develop and gradually worsen.

When the cause for the tension headache is in the neck, it is often the case that you wake up with a mild neck pain that slowly radiates to your head.

Sometimes the cause lies in the incorrect use of muscles or muscle groups. In that case, the physiotherapist can do something for you.

Does your headache come from the neck and have you regularly suffered from it for a long time? Then visit a physiotherapist.


Tension headache in your eyes

Some people experience headaches behind one or both eyes. This can also be part of the tension headache, although it is also a complaint that occurs with migraine or other types of headache.

In this case, the headache is located around or behind one eye or both eyes. You may also have a throbbing sensation behind the eyes.

If you have been diagnosed with a tension headache, these complaints will also come from the tension in the neck and shoulders and you will probably find relief if you follow and do the tips and exercises in this article.


The difference between migraines and tension headaches

Another well-known form of headache is migraine. Migraines occur in fewer people than tension headaches and have more serious complaints, which often means that someone is temporarily unable to function properly.

Woman lying in bed with headache on the left

Migraine is a severe headache that is often located on one side of the head.

The headache can sometimes radiate to the eyes or forehead, often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, vision problems and sensitivity to normal light and sound.

Working, playing sports or taking care of children is often impossible for someone with a migraine attack and it affects daily life to a greater extent than tension headaches.

Some people feel or see the migraine coming because their vision or other perceptions change.

In the period prior to the migraine you may also suffer from sudden mood swings, a feeling of tension or fatigue.

More often than tension headaches, migraines are triggered by conditions such as hormone fluctuations or stress factors.

It is sometimes clear to people with migraine what causes the migraine attack.

Migraine therefore often comes in attacks, is more or less intense and hinders the person to perform work.

In addition, there are many side effects such as nausea or vision problems.

With tension headaches you do not suffer from these kinds of side effects and you can usually continue to do most of your daily activities.

There are several medicines that can be taken for migraines to significantly reduce the attack and to be able to sleep. There are no medicines for tension headaches. However, you can use painkillers such as paracetamol if the headache is severe.

Sometimes you don’t feel like eating, but that is not because you are nauseous or have to vomit.

The annoying thing about tension headaches is that it often lasts so long, so you really have to learn to live with it more.

You can continue to do the daily things, but you constantly have a nagging pain that does not go away well.

Fortunately, in addition to painkillers, there are also many exercises and tips that you can follow to minimize your headache.

Exercises for tension headaches

The best exercises for tension headaches are aimed at stretching and relaxing the muscles.

Most exercises are mainly aimed at the neck and shoulders, as this is where the headache usually arises.

But exercises that stretch and relax the rest of your upper body are also very suitable and can provide relief.

Woman stretching behind the laptop

The exercises are not difficult and you can even perform some of them at your workplace. So regularly take a short moment to relieve that tension headache.


Exercise 1: Breathing Exercises

Breathing exercises can be done anytime and anywhere and they come in different forms. The most important thing is that you create calm and regular breathing by consciously breathing in and out.

Sit up straight in a chair or on the floor and breathe in deeply but relaxed through your nose. Hold your breath for a moment and let it go slowly through your mouth. Do this 20 times.

In addition to this breathing exercise, you can find many others on the internet.

Almost all of them are suitable, as long as they allow you to breathe calmly and in a controlled manner, which causes your body to relax.

Exercise 2: Circles with the shoulders

In this exercise, sit up straight in a chair and let your arms hang by your sides. Your arms hang down and with your shoulders you make a rotating movement backwards.

You make small circles in this way, and then you make the movement bigger and bigger.

After a few large circles with the shoulders, slowly let the movement decrease again and you stop again after doing small circles.

Note:  Always do this exercise in backward form, so rotate the shoulders back. When you turn the shoulders forward, you cramp your shoulders and neck too much.

Exercise 3: Stretch your neck

You have to sit up straight again for this exercise. Let your right arm hang down at your side and place your left hand on your head.

Look straight ahead and now move your left ear toward your left shoulder until you feel the right side of your neck stretch. Start slow and don’t pull your head!

The weight of your head and the movement ensure that your neck stretches sufficiently.

Let your head hang for 15 seconds, then come back to an upright position and do the movement in reverse.

You can do the exercise several times in a row or, for example, regularly while working behind the computer.

Exercise 4: Active Muscle Relaxation

You can do this exercise at home in bed, when you can completely relax. Put on some quiet music to help you with this.

You lie on your bed without a pillow on your back and tense all parts of your body one by one first, and then relax them again.

You start at your toes, one at a time, up your feet to your legs, your hips, your stomach, your chest, your arms, your shoulders, your neck and finally your head and the parts of your face.

You tense every part of your body first and then you leave it relaxed.

The rest of your body is relaxed and still. In this way you get to know your muscle groups well and relax.

11 Tips to Reduce Tension Headaches

The tension headache may not be completely cured, but you can often do things to reduce the symptoms.

This mainly means: enough exercise, healthy living, lots of fresh air and regular relaxation.

Man stretching outside

Tension headaches can be reduced through both exercise and relaxation.

A characteristic of the headache is that it does not get worse when you exert yourself.

So get started! Because you are distracted by sports or exercise and you may therefore reduce the headache.

1. Go for a walk

By walking you use a lot of muscle groups in your body that remain inactive behind your desk or on the couch or are used too actively.

Short or long walks can help balance the tension of the muscle groups in your neck and shoulders.

If you have a (emerging) headache during your first break, go outside immediately and remove as much tension as possible.

An additional positive effect: the fresh air often does your head good too!

Woman walking through the forest

2. Go meditate

When you meditate you try to achieve a certain mental relaxation.

You can do meditation exercises in a quiet place in the house or outside, but there are also certain meditation or mindfulness exercises that you can do while walking!

So double score if you go for that. With headphones you can follow the exercise and you will not be distracted by sounds around you.

3. Practice Yoga

You don’t have to be or become super flexible to practice yoga. There are many different types of yoga, from very active with difficult postures to very relaxed forms of yoga.

During yoga, your body and mind come into balance and you get to know your body well.

It can be a very good way to get a grip on your tension headache.


4. Get a good night’s sleep

Tension headaches can sometimes be made worse by getting too little sleep or not getting enough rest while sleeping.

Sometimes you have little influence on this yourself, but often more than you think.

Try to go to bed at regular times, sleep in a fresh room (open the windows at night or during the day) and have a quiet bedtime ritual without a phone!

For example, take a warm shower, drink a cup of tea while you are sitting quietly, take an evening walk or read a book.

Don’t watch TV or check your phone in the last half hour before going to sleep. Peace of mind helps you to go into the night calmly.

5. Drink and eat enough

Insufficient fluid in your body can greatly intensify your headache.

Even people who usually do not have a tension headache can suffer from headaches if they do not have enough fluids in their body.

Let alone someone who already suffered from it! So drink enough and on time (if you are thirsty it is actually too late), and at least 2 liters a day.

Always have water or tea within reach. In addition, eat regularly, healthy and enough to maintain your energy balance.

6. Use cold compresses

Put an ice pack in the freezer so you always have something cold to put on your neck when you get home and experience a headache (frozen peas or something similar works great too!).

Never put the compresses directly on the skin, but always with a cloth in between!

A compress in the neck can sometimes significantly relieve the symptoms.

Some people also benefit from alternating cold and warm compresses, try what works best for you.

7. Take Computer Breaks

Both at work and at home, sitting at the computer for a long time is often very taxing on the neck muscles. First of all, try to find the right posture that puts as little strain on the neck as possible.

Tilt or raise the screen a bit and adjust your seat to the correct height.

In addition, it is important to get away from that computer regularly.

Even if it’s just a walk to the bathroom, get a cup of coffee or get up or lean back while you call: try to change position as often as possible.

Try to relax the neck and shoulder muscles during computer breaks.

Do you work a lot behind the computer? Then make sure that you spend as little time as possible behind it in the evenings and weekends.

8. Find the right sport or exercise

You should not be bothered by your tension headache during exercise.

It is true that some sports can put extra strain on your neck muscles and that is of course not the intention.

Find out which sport suits you and force yourself to keep exercising, even despite the headache.

You need at least half an hour of exercise per day, get this from cycling, walking, yoga or practicing another sport.

9. Remove emotional ballast from your life

You must have been stressed or nervous about something to come or what you still have to do.

The tension in your body only increases and you often sleep worse.

So it’s high time to banish these stress factors from your life!

Tackle your problems, say the things you had to say.

You probably don’t like it very much, but you better get rid of it so you can move on.

An open and honest conversation can give you a huge sense of relief, which makes it easier for you to relax and find peace afterwards.

10. Divide the tasks

Do you feel like you have too many responsibilities? Try to share more practical tasks with others.

At work, at home or in any situation, some people tend to take on a lot of responsibilities all the time.

Young people working together

They are left with practical problems that cause less rest in the body and can thus intensify the tension headache.

Make good agreements with colleagues or housemates and divide the tasks that have to be done.

11. Seek relaxation

What really relaxes you? Is that reading a book, being creative or sitting on a bench in nature?

Make sure you really relax on a regular basis.

These can be regular short moments with the occasional real ‘date’ with you alone.

Make sure you do something small every day that relaxes you and also plan a few hours every week or every other week in which you do what makes you completely relaxed.


Do you go to the doctor for a tension headache? Or you want to Get Rid Of Tension Headaches Quickly

You may have already been to the doctor and he has ruled out other types of headaches and diagnosed a tension headache.

Perhaps you did that yourself and it was not necessary for you to go to the doctor.

Make sure that you visit your doctor again in case of changing complaints (for example nausea, stabbing pain, flashes of light)!

Do you have a strong feeling that the headache is coming from the neck? Then you can also pay a visit to a physiotherapist.

With the right exercises, this can sometimes make a huge difference in the headache symptoms.

If you notice that you suffer too much from the headache symptoms, you can of course visit your doctor again.

They can give you the right painkillers or support and have more specific information for your personal case.

Even if the complaints are accompanied by a lot of stress, it is advisable to visit your doctor and discuss this with him or her.

Do you have tension headaches? How do you deal with it? Leave us a comment below!

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