Nearly everyone is familiar with the pain of tension-type headaches. Over-the-counter or prescription medications may help, but healthy lifestyle choices can help you head off the pain. Start with the basics, including diet, exercise and relaxation.
A healthy lifestyle can promote good overall health and help prevent tension-type headaches. Here are the basics:
Stress and tension-type headaches often go hand in hand. To reduce stress, try these simple tips:
Tense muscles can trigger tension-type headaches. Apply heat or ice to relieve tense neck and shoulder muscles. Use a heating pad set on low, a hot water bottle, a hot shower or bath, a warm compress, or a hot towel. Or apply an ice pack (wrapped in a cloth) or a cool washcloth across the forehead.
Massage also can relieve muscle tension — and sometimes headache pain. Gently massage your temples, scalp, neck and shoulders with your fingertips, or gently stretch the neck.
Take time to unwind every day. Try this deep-breathing exercise:
Try to practice these breathing exercises or another form of relaxation every day.
A diary may help you determine what triggers your tension-type headaches. Note when your headaches start, your activities, how long the headaches last and anything that provides relief. The diary may help you spot patterns in your daily habits that contribute to your tension-type headaches.
Look for improvements in your headaches as you make additional healthy lifestyle changes.