The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that pandemics can be stressful and cause feelings of fear and anxiety. Couple the pandemic with being cooped up at home with family while working and kids home from school, and you may find yourself with a stress headache quite often.
More than nine in 10 adults will deal with headaches at some point in their lives, according to research
. While stress can be to blame, studies
have said that tense muscles are often a culprit. Things like poor work-from-home posture, crouching on the ground playing with kids and even sleeping in awkward positions can lead to stiff muscles.
Tight muscles and neck pain can trigger headaches, and chronically overworked muscles — like hunched shoulders and tight trapezius muscles, or the muscles below your shoulder blades and the uppermost back muscles that run into your neck — can cause headaches, too.
That's why for our final installment in this series, we devised this five-minute stretch routine for stress headaches to be done at least once a day to loosen up the muscles around the neck, shoulders and upper back. This neck and shoulder routine also includes specific breathing to release tension headaches.
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Standing or sitting, place your hands behind your head in a basket grip.
Gently drop your chin toward your chest and hug the elbows around your face.
Use the tension of your hands and arms to weigh your cervical spine down while maintaining a straight thoracic spine. Feel a stretch from the base of your skull down through your cervical vertebrae.
Breathing in and out through the nose, hold this for five deep breaths, and then release slowly.
Side neck pull
With your head upright, reach your right hand around your head and place it on the left side of your head. Gently pull your head so that your right ear reaches down toward your right shoulder. Feel a stretch in the left side of your neck.
To intensify this stretch, bring your left hand around your back and open up the left shoulder by pressing your left hand onto your back.
Again breathing in and out through the nose, hold this for three deep breaths, and then switch sides.
Standing or sitting, shrug your shoulders forward.
Then shrug them up toward your ears.
Next, pull them back. Finally, pull them down. You'll be making a box with your shoulders in the shape of a square.
Perform this five times. Then reverse the box and perform five times by shrugging your shoulders backward.
Standing with your feet as wide as your hips, slowly fold forward, hinging at your hips. Allow your arms, head and neck to dangle down.