4 Simple Ways to Ease Your Headache at Home

It's reasonable to try home remedies before reaching for medication.

Home Remedies like Napping to Ease Your Headache
Hero Images/Getty Images

Sometimes you simply want to treat your headache naturally, without the use of pills. This is understandable and a sensible approach—start with easy home remedies and go from there.

Engage in a Relaxing Activity

Stress is a common culprit for headaches and migraines and can also be a trigger for the transformation from occasional headaches to chronic headaches. Try relaxing, whatever that means for you—like taking a nap or resting in a dark, quiet room, meditating, doing yoga, having your partner give you a back rub, or taking a warm bath.

Try to avoid electronic stimulation like TV or a computer (give your brain a break).

If you find that you have a lot of neck tension or muscle contraction and that relaxation eases your headaches, you may want to consider learning progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) to reduce your headaches in the future. PMR is a technique in which a person consciously tenses and then relaxes muscles throughout their body in a systematic way.

Target the Area of Pain

While self pain-alleviating maneuvers like massaging your temples for a tension headache have not been found to be all that beneficial for stopping a headache, they are harmless. Also, for many people, these maneuvers can ease the pain temporarily until another home remedy or an over-the-counter medication kicks in. Try these strategies that target the area of your head pain:

  • Place an ice pack or cold drink on your scalp, temple, or neck
  • Compress or apply pressure to the affected area of pain with your finger or object
  • Ask your partner for a massage of your scalp and neck

Eat a Healthy Snack

Food plays a complex role in your headache health. Skipping meals and eating meals rich in headache-triggering foods can lead to a headache. Not drinking enough water, drinking alcohol, or skipping your morning coffee can also trigger headaches.

If you suspect a caffeine withdrawal headache, a cup of coffee should ease your headache within an hour—although in the long run, eliminating or limiting your caffeine intake is best for your headache health. If you are not sure which of these food factors plays a role, don't fret. Try having a healthy snack like a protein bar or granola and a tall glass of water. It can't hurt and just might make you feel better.

Try a Form of Light Exercise

Staying fit through daily exercise is a healthy way to cope with and possibly reduce your headaches. While going for a run on the treadmill is likely not going to ease your acute headache, engaging in a relaxing form of exercise like yoga or a long walk just might. Muscle stretching and strengthening exercises and other physical therapy techniques may also be beneficial in the long run for your headaches. This is especially true if your headaches are associated with muscle tightness or other problems in the neck, as in cervicogenic headache.

A Word from Verywell

It's a sensible approach to try a home remedy to relieve your headache before going the medication route.

As an added bonus, a home remedy that eases your headache may provide a clue as to what triggered the headache in the first place.

 

Sources:

Anderson RE & Sensical C. A comparison of selected osteopathic treatment and relaxation for tension-type headaches. Headache 2006;46(8):1273-80.

Chaibi A, Tuchin PJ & Russell MB. Manual therapies for migraine: a systematic review. J Headache Pain. 2011 Apr; 12(2):127-33.

Gil-Martínez A et al. Therapeutic exercise as treatment for migraine and tension-type headaches: a systematic review of randomized clinical trials. Rev Neurol. 2013 Nov 16;57(10):433-43.

Nash JM, & Thebarge RW. Understanding psychological stress, its biological processes, and impact on primary headache. Headache. 2006;46(9):1377–1386.

Page P. Cervicogenic headaches: An evidence-led approach to clinical management. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2011 Sep; 6(3):254-66.

Continue Reading