Stress is one of the most common triggers for headaches in both men and women for many reasons. For one thing, stress itself has physical symptoms like increased blood pressure that increases the risks for headaches. For another thing, stress has related psychological symptoms like anxiety that worsens the symptoms of headaches.
In studies, men and women who suffer from chronic headaches are more likely to experience pain during and/or after periods of stress. But it is not the major life-changing events like divorce and death that precede headaches although these also have a hand. Instead, it is the day-to-day stressors that trigger bouts of headaches.
What’s Your Stress Trigger?
Each individual has a specific stressor that precedes all other types mainly because of the unique circumstances each one of us has in life. You may be the primary caregiver to your sick parent so your headache trigger is caregiver stress while your husband may have multiple role stress as his main trigger for pain in the head.
While women are more likely to suffer from multiple role stress, men are also susceptible to it because of the reversal of roles (i.e., wives finding work while husbands stay at home), among other reasons. Multiple role stress refers to the stress brought by managing several roles and responsibilities – spouse, parent and breadwinner, perhaps even caretaker of the home. The physical and mental demands eventually take their toll and, thus, the headaches begin.
Caring for children and parents is a taxing, often thankless, job with physical and mental demands that can bring on the headaches. These demands are also not on an 8-to-5 basis, unlike other jobs, because many caregivers must work on a 24/7 basis.
Most adults suffer from workplace stress although the onset, frequency and severity of the stress varies between individuals even in the same workplace. Often, the higher the position in the workplace, the higher the stress levels because of the great responsibilities thrust on their shoulders.
Other stressors include financial stress (e.g., insufficient income, medical expenses), emotional stress (e.g., relationship issues), and physical stress (i.e., illness). All of these stressors, nonetheless, can trigger headaches, even migraines.
What Can You Do?
Fortunately, stress can be managed (i.e., lessened in its effect) using the following methods:
Indeed, you can take full control of your stressors by controlling your reactions to them and, in the process, lessen your headaches’ frequency, intensity and duration.