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How To Relieve Migraine, Tension, and Teeth-Grinding Headaches

Different causes require different treatment methods.


As we settle into fall and edge toward winter, the shifts in temperature and barometric pressure can trigger head pain. Not to mention the stress of upcoming holidays… those are headache starters in and of themselves. Luckily, these tricks may quash pain in a hurry. Find out how to stop headaches based on the type of headache and time of day.

A.M. pain?

If head pain starts when you wake, nighttime teeth grinding is likely to blame. It puts 250 times more force on your jaw than chewing, making it a top cause of next-day headaches. The fix: Circle a knuckle along your jawline for 60 seconds when you wake. This works out tension in the jaw, reversing the root cause of your morning head pain in under one minute.


Stash a bag of dried beans in the freezer, and at the first sign of a migraine, place it over your eyes. Research in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine suggests this reverses burgeoning migraines entirely for 71 percent of folks. The “beanbag” blocks out pain-triggering light, while cryotherapy (aka “cold therapy”) short-circuits pain signals in as little as three minutes.

Tension headache?

Close your eyes and ask yourself three questions: “Where is my headache? What color is it? What shape is it?” In under two minutes, the pain will have disappeared. Scientists say asking these questions works similarly to in-office biofeedback, alerting your brain of hidden tensions so you can relax muscles in your head and neck. Indeed, Harvard Medical School research suggests it cuts tension headache pain by up to 60 percent.

Tech pain?

Scrolling on your smartphone forces your neck into a position that can cause head pain that radiates up from the base of your skull. The fix: Lift your head straight, then gently “trace” each letter of the alphabet in the air using your nose. This works like a massage from the inside out, loosening the muscles that connect the neck to the skull and erasing pain before you reach the letter Z.

Quick Tricks

1: Rubbing peppermint oil along your hairline relieves head pain as effectively as Tylenol and in one-third of the time, says a 1996 study.

2: Stand barefoot on a bumpy surface (like a pebble path or garden mulch) and rock from side to side. Doing so may activate pressure points in your feet that spur the release of painkilling endorphins, cutting head pain in half within two minutes.

A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.

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