Pain Free Working

How to Stop Headaches at Work

Ah, the workplace – a space where productivity and deadlines often take center stage. But what happens when those annoying headaches decide to crash the party?

Headaches at work can be a real productivity buzzkill, affecting your focus, concentration, and overall well-being. And then, you lose your work hours or worst, a deadline to beat.

So, here we’ll take a look at some work-related headaches and explore practical solutions to keep those throbbing pains at bay.

How Does Headache Pain Affect Work?


Imagine you’re sitting at your desk, engrossed in an important project when suddenly, a nagging headache strikes. It’s like a tiny construction crew hammering away at your temples, making it nearly impossible to concentrate.

Headache pain can significantly impact your work performance, leaving you feeling irritable, unfocused, and drained. That’s why it’s crucial to address these pesky pains head-on.

What Are the Different Types of Headaches?


Headaches aren’t a one-size-fits-all deal. There’s a whole spectrum of headache types that can disrupt your workday. Let’s discover a few common culprits:

Tension Headaches

The classic tension headache. These are often characterized by a dull, aching sensation that wraps around your head like a tight band. They can be triggered by factors like stress, poor posture, or prolonged periods of intense muscular contraction (hello, long work hours!).

Migraine Headaches

Migraines are a force to be reckoned with. They bring on excruciating pain, often on one side of the head, and can be accompanied by symptoms like nausea, sensitivity to light and sound, and visual disturbances. Migraine pain can pack a real punch, making it difficult to focus and leaving you seeking solace in a dark, quiet room.

Cluster Headaches

Cluster headaches are like unwanted guests that show up unannounced and refuse to leave. These intense, excruciating headaches strike suddenly and typically occur in clusters over a period of weeks or months. They often affect one side of the head and may cause eye redness and congestion.

Sinus Headaches

Ever felt like your head was about to explode due to cold or sinus pressure? That’s a sinus headache for you. These headaches are often accompanied by facial pain, nasal congestion, and a feeling of pressure around the forehead, cheeks, and eyes.

What Are the Common Headache Symptoms?


Headaches have a knack for making their presence known, leaving us with some telltale signs. Here are a few headache symptoms you might experience:

  • Throbbing pain: When a headache strikes, it often feels like a persistent, rhythmic throbbing in your head. It’s like a drum solo you never asked for.
  • Aching or fuzzy feeling: Have you ever felt like your head was wrapped in a foggy haze, with an overall achiness that just won’t quit? That’s the aching feeling that often accompanies headaches, making it difficult to concentrate on tasks.
  • Sensitivity to light or sound: When a headache takes hold, even the softest sound or the gentlest ray of light can feel like a hammer to the brain. Sensitivity to light and sound is a common symptom that adds insult to injury during a headache episode.

What Are the Ways to Relieve Headache Pain at Work?

When it comes to tackling those pesky headaches at work, a proactive approach can make all the difference. Here are some practical tips to help you find relief and keep those pounding headaches at bay:

Create an Ergonomic Workstation

Stop Headaches - Ergonomic workstation

Proper Desk And Chair Setup

Ensure that your desk and chair arrangement is at the appropriate height, allowing for a comfortable sitting position. Keep your feet flat on the floor and your knees at a 90-degree angle. An ergonomic workstation keeps a well-aligned posture to help alleviate and monitor muscle tension that may contribute to headaches.

Monitor and Keyboard Positioning

Position your monitor directly in front of you at eye level. Avoid tilting your head up or down to view the screen, as this can strain your neck and lead to headaches. Similarly, your keyboard should be at a comfortable height, allowing your wrists to remain straight while typing.

Lighting Considerations

Adjust the lighting in your workspace to reduce eye strain. Harsh fluorescent lighting can be particularly bothersome for some individuals. If possible, opt for natural lighting or use warm, diffused lighting options. Additionally, consider using an anti-glare screen for your computer to minimize strain on your eyes.

Manage Stress With Relaxation Techniques

Stop Headaches - Breathing

Deep Breathing Exercises

Deep breathing promotes relaxation and helps alleviate tension in your body. Take a moment to focus on your breath. Inhale deeply through your nose, allowing your belly to expand, and exhale slowly through your mouth. 

Stretching and Relaxation Exercises

Incorporate gentle stretching exercises into your routine to release muscle tension. Neck rolls, shoulder shrugs, and upper back stretches can provide relief and prevent stiffness. Take short breaks throughout the day to perform this exercise regularly and give your body a chance to relax.

Mindfulness and Meditation

Take a mental break by practicing mindfulness or meditation techniques. Find a quiet spot, close your eyes, and focus on the present moment. Allow any stressful thoughts to pass by without judgment. Engaging in mindfulness or meditation regularly can help reduce stress, ease anxiety, and promote a sense of overall well-being.

Take Regular Breaks and Practice Eye Exercises

Stop Headaches - Take breaks

Take Short Breaks

Every hour or so, make it a point to take a short break from your desk. Stand up, stretch your body, and give yourself a break from the screen. A quick walk around the office or a change of scenery can do wonders for your overall well-being.

Practice Eye Exercises

Our eyes work hard, especially when we’re constantly focused on screens. To alleviate eye strain, try simple eye exercises. Close your eyes tightly for a few seconds and then release. Repeat this a few times. Also, look away from your screen every 20 minutes and focus on a distant object to give your eyes a chance to refocus.

Drink and Eat Healthy

Stop Headaches - Diet

Drink Enough Water

Dehydration can be a common trigger for headaches. Stay hydrated by drinking an adequate amount of water throughout the day. Aim for at least eight glasses (about two liters) of water daily. Keep a water bottle at your desk as a reminder to stay hydrated.

Avoid Excessive Caffeine Intake

While a cup of coffee or even moderate coffee consumption contributes to a quick energy boost, excessive caffeine consumption can lead to withdrawal headaches or affect migraines. Monitor your caffeine intake and consider limiting it to moderate levels. If you notice that caffeine triggers your headaches, gradually reduce your consumption.

Maintain a Balanced Diet

A well-rounded diet can contribute to a healthy weight, your overall health, and potentially reduce the frequency of headaches. Include plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains in your meals. Avoid skipping meals, as low blood sugar levels can sometimes trigger headaches.

Use Cold Compress or Heat Therapy

Stop Headaches -Compress

Cold Compress

Applying a cold compress or ice pack to the affected area can help numb the pain, constrict the blood vessels, and reduce inflammation. Wrap a cold pack in a cloth and gently place it on your forehead or the back of your neck for 15-20 minutes. The cold temperature or ice dulls pain and provides a soothing sensation.

Heat Therapy

For tension headaches, heat therapy can be beneficial. Apply a warm compress or use a heating pad on tense areas, such as the neck or shoulders. The warmth helps relax the muscles and alleviate tension that may be causing the headache.

Try Natural Remedies

Stop Headaches- Natural remedies

Essential Oils

Certain essential oils, such as lavender, peppermint, and eucalyptus, are known for their potential headache-relieving properties. Dilute a few drops of the essential oil in a carrier oil, such as coconut or almond oil, and gently massage it onto your temples or the back of your neck.

Some research suggests that the soothing aroma and therapeutic properties of these oils may help ease chronic daily headache symptoms.

Herbal Teas

Some herbal teas, like chamomile, ginger, or peppermint, have been traditionally used to relieve pain. Sipping on a warm cup of herbal tea can provide a calming effect and potentially alleviate headache discomfort.

Take Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers (With Caution)

Stop Headaches - Medicine

An over-the-counter (OTC) pain reliever is an acute treatment that can be effective in relieving mild to moderate headaches. But be aware of overusing such medicines as it could cause yet another headache pain called medication overuse headaches. 

Keep the following guidelines in mind if you do take medicines to treat headaches:

  • Consult a healthcare professional before taking any medication, especially if you have any underlying health conditions or are taking other medications.
  • Read and follow the instructions on the packaging carefully. Take the recommended dose and avoid exceeding the recommended frequency.
  • Be aware of potential side effects and drug interactions. If you experience any adverse reactions, discontinue use and consult a healthcare professional.

What to Do With a Severe Headache at Work

Severe Headaches

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, we find ourselves faced with a severe headache that refuses to back down. In such cases, it’s crucial to know how to handle the situation effectively. 

The first is to recognize the warning signs. These signs can include sudden and intense pain, neurological symptoms like dizziness or confusion, or any other unusual or concerning migraine symptoms that indicate your headache may be more severe than usual. 

While most headaches can be managed with self-care strategies, severe headaches may require medical attention. If you experience severe and recurring head pain or neurological symptoms, or if your headaches significantly interfere with your daily life, it’s crucial to consult a healthcare professional for a proper evaluation and guidance.

So, go ahead and ask for a time off!

How Long Do Headaches Last?

Headaches can vary in duration depending on the underlying cause and individual factors. Some headaches, such as tension headaches, may last from 30 minutes to several hours. Migraine headaches, on the other hand, can last anywhere from a few hours to several days. Cluster headaches typically last between 15 minutes to three hours, but can occur multiple times a day.

It’s important to note that each person’s experience may differ, and the duration of headaches can be influenced by various factors such as headache triggers, treatments, and overall health. If you have concerns about the duration or frequency of your headaches, recurring tension headaches, or chronic migraine attacks, it’s advisable to consult a healthcare professional for evaluation and guidance.

What Could Get Rid of a Headache Fast?

While there is no guaranteed method to instantly get rid of a headache, there are several strategies that may help alleviate the pain and provide relief. 

  • Pain medicine or over-the-counter pain reliever such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help alleviate migraine pain and migraine frequency.
  • Applying topical headache treatments like a compress or ice pack to the head or neck region can dull pain and block pain signals.
  • Relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or even cognitive behavioral therapy sessions can help relieve tension and reduce headache intensity.
  • If your headache or migraine is severe, chronic, or significantly affecting your daily life, it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional for appropriate diagnosis and treatment.

What Stops Headaches Naturally?

When it comes to natural approaches for relieving headaches, there are several options to consider.

  • Take a rest. A simple 10-minute nap once you feel a headache forming can be more useful than having to endure the pain as it gets worse, says Dr. Elizabeth Loder, past President of the American Headache Society and headache and pain division chief at a Women’s Hospital.
  • Embrace the power of aromatherapy. These invigorating scents can offer a refreshing sensation and potentially help as a migraine relief for severe pain. 
  • Try acupressure or apply gentle pressure to specific points on your body to potentially alleviate headache discomfort. One point to consider is the webbing between your thumb and index finger. Apply firm pressure with your opposite thumb and index finger for a few minutes.

Do note that while natural remedies can be helpful for some migraine patients, it’s always advisable to consult a healthcare professional for proper evaluation and guidance, especially if you have severe or chronic headaches.

How to Stop Getting Headaches

With all the headache remedies, adopting healthy habits and managing potential migraine triggers are by far the best you can do to keep those pains away. Here are some strategies to help you reduce the headache frequency:

  • Maintain proper hydration: Staying adequately hydrated by drinking enough water throughout the day can help reduce headache pain.
  • Manage stress: Stress is a common trigger for a bad headache. Engaging in stress-reducing activities like exercise and meditation can be beneficial.
  • Establish regular sleep patterns: Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule and ensuring you get enough sleep each night can help prevent migraines. Careful not to get too much sleep, though, as it could also trigger or worsen your headache. Lack of sleep due to sleep apnea or insomnia can also trigger morning headaches.
  • Identify and avoid triggers: Pay attention to your personal triggers at their early stages, such as specific foods, certain scents, or environmental factors, and try to avoid or minimize exposure to them. Gum chewing, a form of prolonged intense muscular contraction, may provoke headaches in some. 
  • Practice good posture and ergonomics: Maintaining proper posture and using ergonomic equipment, especially when working for extended periods, can help relieve tension headaches and keep positional or seat headaches from forming.
  • Limit caffeine intake: Too much caffeine consumption can contribute to headaches. Moderating your caffeine intake or gradually reducing it can help to prevent headaches.
  • Engage in regular exercise: Regular physical activity, such as aerobic exercises or yoga, can improve overall well-being and potentially reduce the frequency of headaches.
  • Maintain a healthy diet: Experts also advise headache patients to opt for a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Avoid skipping meals, as low blood sugar can trigger migraines and other headache disorders.

Final Note

Say goodbye to those pesky work headaches by prioritizing prevention and management. Small adjustments like creating an ergonomic workstation, finding your zen through relaxation techniques, and taking care of your overall well-being can make a big difference.

It’s time to take charge and enjoy a productive and headache-free work environment.

Tricia Montano

Tricia founded Pain Free Working in 2019 due to suffering from degenerative disc disease in her L5-S1 from working an office job for the past 18 years. She and her team strive on finding and reviewing the best office equipment to help fellow pain sufferers find relief and to enable people like her to do their jobs comfortably.