The Stress And Migraine Connection

If you struggle with migraines, then you know how incapacitating that pain can be. And you likely also know how badly you want to learn what causes these headaches, in order to banish them once and for all. There are tons of causes for migraines, and each person’s situation is unique, but below you will see a few of the most common migraine triggers. Look over your life and see if any of the reasons below could be impacting you.

I challenge you to examine the link in your own life between stress and pain. So often if we can reduce the level of stress in our lives and on our bodies, these chronic issues that have plagued us for years will start to abate.

What triggers your migraine?

People with migraines often avoid cheese, chocolate, citrus fruits and red wine. For most people, however, just avoiding certain foods will not prevent their migraines occurring as the situation is more complicated than that. Trigger factors seem to build up over a period of time and together result in a migraine attack. This helps to explain why, if you have a tendency to migraine, you might eat a certain food on one day and have no ill effects whereas on another day you will experience a migraine.

Trigger factors are certainly present at the onset of migraine attacks, but it is not possible to state simply that chocolate or cheese, for example, “causes” migraines. These are factors which can have a part to play, if you are predisposed to migraine.

Changing triggers

It is important to remember that your trigger factors are likely to change over time and new triggers may be discovered if your circumstances change. Stress and red wine may be implicated at times whereas neck and back problems at other times may be more significant.

Common triggers

Changes in routine

Some people find that changes in their routine can contribute to a migraine. For example changing sleep patterns or changes caused by long journeys can precede an attack. Even pleasant changes such as a holiday can be implicated.


Migraines and stress are strongly linked. Indeed, anxiety, excitement and any form of tension and shock may all lead to a migraine attack. However, some people report that their migraines start when the stress reduces. This is sometimes experienced as “weekend headaches” when, after a busy and stressful week at work, an individual might experience a migraine at the weekend when they are more relaxed.


The complex nature of trigger factors is illustrated by sleep. Both too much and too little sleep can be implicated in a migraine starting. Some people find that sleepless nights, a number of late nights and being over tired can trigger a migraine. Other people find that sleeping in or dozing in the mornings has the same effect.

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If you think your headaches could be tied to stress, then there are some simple tactics you can try to relieve some of that pain by addressing the root cause. So much of health and wellness comes down to a willingness to look after yourself and take the moments here and there to ground yourself and reconnect your mind, body, and spirit once again.

Natural Ways To Relieve Stress Migraines

Stretch, relax, and breathe

Our lives are fast paced, busy, and filled with more than a little stress. Our overworked minds and bodies react to this by tensing and knotting up muscles, usually in the upper back, neck, and shoulders. Thanks to a little something called referred pain-pain felt in an area other than where the actual painful stimulus is-we end up with tension-type headaches. To help head these buggers off, try some of the following tips.

  • Do yoga: Yoga will get your mind focused, stretch out your muscles, and get you moving in ways that can help you drop the tension-and if you drop the tension, you can drop the tension-headache. Just doing a few moves when the pain starts up can help, but the best thing to do is a set aside a few minutes each day to practice regularly and prevent headaches before they happen.
  • Breathe: You may think you’re breathing alright, but if your head is pounding you’re likely not getting the most out of the oxygen you take in. In general we take breaths that are too shallow, and when we are experiencing pain or stress, we definitely breathe to shallow. Make a conscious effort to take deep, full, breaths that start in your diaphragm and fill up your lungs. This will get plenty of fresh oxygen circulating through your blood and will also help relax your mind and body.
  • Drop your shoulders: This is one I remind myself to do about 5 times a day. Make yourself aware of how you carry your shoulders. When you think of it, tell yourself to drop them down. You’d be surprised at how often we carry them hunched up too high, resulting in soreness and, of course, headaches.

Grab a pencil

Holding a pencil between your teeth (holding, not biting or clenching your jaw) can help a tension headache dissipate. The actual physical action of holding the pencil between your teeth activates your “smile” muscles, relaxing your jaw. We often times clench our teeth when stressed and this in turn strains the muscle connecting the jaw to the temples and causes a tension headache. Again, make sure your jaw is relaxed and the pencil is held lightly between your teeth.

– via Everyday Roots

Do you struggle with migraines yourself? What have you found that helps?



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