Ease muscle tension

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.

Relax

Take time to unwind every day. Try this deep-breathing exercise:

  • Lie down on your back or sit comfortably with your feet flat on the floor; hands in your lap.
  • Imagine yourself in a peaceful place, perhaps a beach or quiet forest. Keep this scene in your mind.
  • Inhale and exhale slowly and deeply for at least 10 minutes.
  • When you're done, sit quietly for a minute or two.

Try to practice these breathing exercises or another form of relaxation every day.

Keep a headache diary

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.

July 28, 2015 See more In-depth