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Have a Headache at Work? 13 Quick Fixes

By Skye Schulte, MS, MPH
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Staff


Here it comes, the beginning of that dull throbbing pain in your temple. You search your desk for an aspirin and come up empty handed. Now you'll have to suffer the rest of the workday with your head in your hands, right? Not so! We've got some tips on easing a headache the natural way.

Below are some drug-free headache relievers that might help the next time your head is pounding and you don't have access to an over-the-counter pain reliever. While these techniques have more to do with easing stress, they can't hurt and may help you to relax and feel better when a tension headache hits.

13 Drug-Free Headache Relievers

  1. Massage -Gently rubbing your head, neck, and shoulders can help relieve tension.
  2. Acupuncture -is a form of traditional Chines medicine that may be helpful
  3. Cognitive-behavioral therapy - teaches patients to identify, and better respond to their thoughts and beliefs. It also helps them to develop new ways of behaving.
  4. Deep breaths -Breathing deeply and slowly from the abdomen can be done while sitting or lying down.
  5. Decrease sensory clutter -Turning off or tuning out extra noises, lights, and activities can decrease sensory stress and other things that might be causing your headache.
  6. Use temperature -Taking a hot or cold shower or applying a hot or cold towel or pack to your neck, head, and shoulders can help to relieve pain and stress.
  7. Thought exercises -Image you're in a calm, serene, and quiet place.
  8. Stretching -Can help to relax tense muscles.
  9. Use relaxation techniques -Meditation and activities like yoga or Tai Chi can help relax your body, calm your mind, and take your thoughts off the pain
  10. Exercise -Taking a brisk walk or doing some other vigorous activity for at least 5 to 10 minutes may help.
  11. Find a soothing rhythm -Closing your eyes and repeating calm words or phrases, listening to calm music or ocean rhythms, and rocking or moving to a steady rhythm can bring about relaxation.
  12. Examine your diet -Dehydration, certain foods, or allergies can be the culprits in chronic headaches. Get enough fluids and explore which foods might give you headaches.
  13. Take a break -Looking at a computer or being in the same position for long periods can cause muscle tension. Take a short break every hour and remember to focus your eyes away from the computer screen at least once every 15 minutes.

Note: Talk to your doctor if you continue to have severe headache pain. It could be the symptom of a more serious problem.

Above content provided by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.

Posted October 2009

Contact Information

Arnold Pain Management Center
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
One Brookline Place, Suite 105
Brookline, MA 02445
617-278-8000
617-278-8065