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Stress Management Techniques

I Tried These 5 Stress Management Techniques, And They Changed The Game For My Headaches

by Paige Gibbens, PT, DPTLeave a Comment

Headaches can be difficult to manage and require a multitude of disciplines to be effectively treated. Not to mention that it’s important to reveal the root cause of headaches rather than just treating the symptoms of the headache. There’s also the factor of stress, which seems unavoidable at times. Stress can not only cause mental health and emotional symptoms, but also physical symptoms including chronic pain and headaches. These symptoms that occur due to stress are the body telling us something needs to change. And yes, stress is needed to invoke change, physically and mentally, so how can we manage stress while reducing physical symptoms, specifically headaches? While everyone is different, I tried the techniques below to manage my stress and noticed a significant improvement in my headaches.

Increasing Water Intake

Drinking water is a very underutilized and important piece to overall health, including stress management. In order for the body to work at an optimal level, it is suggested to consume half your body weight in ounces of water each day. Think of this as helping heal the body from the inside out. Also, stopping every hour to drink water helps you to slow down and think about taking a breath. Taking five large gulps of water and a deep breath can help to reset the nervous system to reduce stress, therefore, reducing headaches.

Exercising And Physical Therapy

Everyone knows that exercise is important, but exercise doesn’t have to be running or lifting weights in the gym. Finding 20 minutes in your day to move your body in a way that you enjoy or doing some form of exercise for 20 minutes a day can help to release endorphins and improve body function. Headaches can also be the cause of increased stress levels. Reaching out to a physical therapist to determine the potential cause of headaches is another great resource.

Meditation And Yoga

Meditation is challenging. When I first started meditating, I thought, “I can’t think about nothing.” But that isn’t what meditation is, meditation is bringing attention to something specific and noticing when you drift away and come back. It has a deep focus on breathing and body awareness. Doing a body scan and actively relaxing every muscle of the body can help to reduce overall tension in the muscles, which then can help to reduce headaches. Bringing attention to breath can help to reduce the “fight or flight” response caused by stress.

Getting Outside

We often don’t get enough vitamin D daily as humans. Go outside and let your bare feet feel the ground. This can help to improve how the body functions by raising vitamin D levels, but also helps to purposefully slow down.

Sticking To A Routine

Following a routine can be crucial during times of stress. Routines can help people to feel a sense of accomplishment and allow for fulfillment. Routine and schedule management can help to allow for more time to rest and relax, therefore helping to reduce stress. Maintaining a sleep routine is critical for stress and headaches. Winding down and reducing screen time before bed, as well as going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day can be very beneficial for stress management and reducing headaches. Our bodies work to heal themselves while we sleep, without sleep, they don’t get this time. While humans are very adaptable to their environments, during times of high stress, relying on routines and forming healthy habits can make added stressors more tolerable each day.

Are you feeling stressed and have constant headaches? Contact your nearest Athletico for a free assessment. Our team will address your concerns and talk through specific goals to determine the best course of action. Free Assessments are available in-clinic and virtually through our Telehealth platform.

Request a Free Assessment

*Per federal guidelines, beneficiaries of plans such as Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, VHA and other federally funded plans are not eligible for free assessments.

The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.

1. Northwestern Medicine. (n.d.). Health benefits of having a routine. Northwestern Medicine. Retrieved May 2, 2023, from
2. Silberstein, S. D. (2002). Tricyclic antidepressant medication, stress management therapy, and their combination in the management of chronic tension-type headache. Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports, 2(2), 105–107.

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About the Author:
Paige Gibbens is a physical therapist specializing in lower extremity treatments and is certified in dry needling and Graston. She is also the Missouri & Southern Illinois regional coordinator for Athletico's Endurance Program.

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