My Never-ending Stress Headache

Every so often, I get a stress headache. You know, the ones that live at the base of your neck and climb up to your skull? Basically you get so stressed and your shoulders are clenched so high that the tension just invades your head.

Boom, stress headache.

The technical term is tension headache and apparently they are the most common type of headaches in adults. Up to 80% of adults get them from time to time, with women twice as likely to get them as men. I learned from WebMD (source here) that there are two types of tension headaches: episodic tension headaches and chronic tension headaches.

Typically, I get episodic tension headaches. I’m textbook WebMD on them: “they happen less than 15 days a month, and usually start gradually and in the middle of the day.” Yup, yup and yup. For me, they only happen occasionally when I’m under a ton of stress. They grow in the early afternoon and on my drive home in the dark (because WINTER) the headlights of the cars behind me cause me to flinch in pain. By time I get home I’m miserable and on the verge of tears.

However, lately I’ve been getting chronic tension headaches. Definition from WebMD: happen more than 15 days a month, the pain may get stronger or ease up throughout the day, but it’s almost always there.

Earlier this month, my job went through a reorganization. There are a lot of changes and it’s been affecting me with a big batch of stress and anxiety. Even though I keep trying to ignore it and push it down (which is obviously a healthy way to deal with everything…), the stress is leaking out through my stress headaches.

I feel like my shoulders are constantly around my ears and for the last 3+ weeks I’ve had headaches every other day. Sometimes more. Even on weekends, which seems extra unfair.

I’m trying very hard to practice self-care. Deep breathing. Working out. Forcing my shoulders back to where they should actually be. Spending time with family. Stretching. Spending time with friends. Vent-fests of all my feelings. So, I’m hoping that these stress headaches leave me soon.

So, if you’ve been wondering why I’ve been kind of quiet on social media and a bit blah on my blog posts… this is why. Maybe by writing about it, it will help a bit?

Freaking stress headaches.

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4 thoughts on “My Never-ending Stress Headache”

  1. I get them too quite frequently and I’ve found getting a chair massage helps a ton. They are a lot shorter (usually 10-15 minutes) a lot cheaper (between $15-$20) and are focused on your neck/shoulders – right where the pain is killing me. Only downside is they are kinda hard to find, a lot of massage therapists don’t offer them but if you can find a good place, it is wonderful!! The other thing that helps me a lot is a heating pad on my neck/shoulders. I try to use it a couple times a day when I’m starting to feel tension creeping into my shoulders and neck and I often use it right before bed/fall asleep with it (apparently I am a stressful sleeper because I often wake up with headaches). Just a couple ideas!

    1. Thank you for the recommendations! I have a neck thing that heats up in the microwave and it helps a little. I’ll have to look to see if anyone has chair massages around me!

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