Along with other physical symptoms of stress include gastrointestinal distress, headaches are one of the most commonly associated physical side effects of stress. Stress headaches can range from being nagging and inconvenient to downright debilitating. That constant pressure and pounding in your head makes it hard to get anything done, which only compounds your stress levels.
Chances are, if you've been dealing with these headaches for a while, you've tried a number of different strategies for minimizing or managing them. But is there anything that can be done to manage stress headaches once and for all? As it turns out, there might be some methods you have yet to try, and we're going to tell you about them today. We'll also cover the basics, including how stress headaches work, along with other helpful information you won't want to miss.
So, let's get started!
What are Stress Headaches?
Stress headaches, as you might guess, are headaches resulting from stress. What's interesting is that these headaches can result not only from physical stressors and tension, but also from emotional and psychological stress. We'll talk more about their causes in a moment. But in the meantime, take a look at some of these common characteristics, as outlined on Excedrin.com:
- "A stress headache will normally be a mild or moderately painful dull ache.
- Stress headache pain will often feel like a tight band around your head – front, sides and back.
- Your scalp, neck and shoulders may also feel sore or tender.
- Stress headaches can be either episodic (short-lasting and occurring less than 15 days per month) or chronic (blending together and occurring 15 or more days per month).
- Unlike migraines, stress headaches aren’t typically aggravated by light, sound or physical activity."
What Causes Stress Headaches
Now, let's get down to exactly how stress can cause headaches. In fact, there are several ways stress results in headaches, but here are some of the most common.
- When we're stressed, we tend to tighten our muscles and hold more tension in our neck and shoulders. This is why stress headaches and tension headaches are considered one and the same. When the muscles in our neck and shoulders tighten, it often results in that vice-like headache pain commonly associated with stress headaches.
- Stress can also cause us to clench our jaws and grind our teeth, resulting in headaches.
- If you're having trouble sleeping due to stress, this often worsens or causes headaches.
- When your body is in fight or flight mode as a response to stress, it comes with physical responses to the stress hormones your body releases. One such response is your blood vessels constricting, which is yet another way stress results in headaches.
- There are also a number of physical stressors, including ergonomic ones, that lead to headaches. These include poor posture (for example, being hunched over at a desk for long periods of time) and eye strain. Ergonomic factors such as these are often the cause of stress headaches.
You'll notice some of these causes have seemingly simple solutions: release the tension in your neck and shoulders, stop grinding your teeth, get better sleep. But of course, those are all much easier said than done. The truth is, we need to become more resilient to life's stressors to address the root cause of stress headaches, as well as other resulting symptoms of stress.
Preventing Stress Headaches
So, we know that a big part of preventing stress headaches means preventing stress. The problem is, it's impossible to entirely eliminate stress from our lives! Not to mention, stress actually serves an important purpose in our lives, up to a certain point.
The body's fight or flight response is a system that kicks in when you're faced with a real or perceived threat. Think of the last time something spooked you...maybe it was a mouse or a friend jumped out from behind a door to scare you. You probably felt physical symptoms including a racing heart, and you might have started sweating and felt a burst of energy. These things happen because your body releases stress hormones to help you deal with the threat you're facing.
For example, your heart starts racing because of the surge of adrenaline you get to help move blood through your body quicker. That way, blood can reach your muscles faster, giving you the resources you need to fight or flee.
(Learn more about stress and what makes it the fuel for peak performance in this post) – I don’t like the parens….
In the event you're facing a grizzly bear or another imminent threat, this response is incredibly useful. But more and more people are finding themselves in an ever-present state of fight or flight. And they're dealing with consequences, including stress headaches, as a result.
This means it isn't all stress you need to prevent. That being said, excessive and unnecessary stress is what to focus on. And to do that, it's important to promote your own well-being and develop your resilience to better (and more quickly) overcome life's stressors.
Stress Management Strategies
In any conversation around preventing or reducing stress, there are a handful of common methods that will come up.
These include: this what I thought we could do in the other article also
- Healthy diet
- Talking with a friend
- Seeking professional help
And there's a good reason for these strategies to be suggested so frequently! They can be incredibly powerful tools for managing stress. But they aren't the only tools, and it's worth exploring other options if these just aren't working for you. One such option is tVNS or transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation, and we're going to tell you more about that next.
Can tVNS Help?
You've likely heard of the vagus nerve, but are you familiar with how it works and what it does? The vagus nerve is the longest in your body, beginning at the brain, traveling behind the ear, and onto just about every other system in the body.
What's particularly interesting about this nerve is how it controls a vast range of functions and communicates sensory information between the brain and the organs. The vagus nerve is crucial for activating your relaxation response and helping to regulate tension.
The stronger your vagus response, the more likely you may be to recover quickly from stressful events.
And that's where tVNS comes in! It means actively stimulating the vagus nerve with the intention of strengthening it. As a result, it isn't only your ability to overcome and adapt to stress that improves. Many people also report a number of other impressive effects. These include a brighter mood, better sleep, faster recovery, and cognition improvements.
We know what your next question is: HOW do I stimulate the vagus nerve? Chances are, many of the things you find relaxing stimulate your vagus nerve without knowing it. Things like meditation, chanting, and cold exposure (ice baths) can all stimulate the vagus nerve.
But there are other, often more effective and convenient , methods for stimulating the vagus nerve, and that's where we get back to transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation.
Xen by Neuvana
tVNS accesses the vagus nerve through the ear, making it an incredibly safe and non-invasive way to stimulate the vagus nerve. With technology like Xen by Neuvana, doing this means putting in the vagus nerve stimulating headphones. Next, you plug them into your Xen by Neuvana device, and you can begin enjoying the effects of tVNS for yourself. You can even choose to listen to your favorite music or sounds while you're doing so!
Stimulating your vagus nerve this way offers your brain more glimpses of relaxation. And the more of these your brain gets, the better it's able to kick into this relaxed state. And you know what that means? Less stress and fewer stress headaches! Not to mention, a plethora of other benefits we've also covered.
Ready to learn more about this patented electronic device or to shop Xen by Neuvana for yourself? Click here!