They are the most common form of disabling headaches, and about 29.5 million Americans suffer from migraine yearly. 

Although the causes of migraines vary, stress remains one of the known triggers of the disease. 

Life-altering events such as the death of a family member or losing your job aren’t the only triggers of stress. Simple inconveniences such as a flat tire while rushing for a meeting or even an annoying co-worker can chip away at your ability to tolerate negative events. 

The Connection Between Stress and Migraine

The American Headache Society reveals that about 4 out of 5 people with migraines suggest stress as the main trigger. Stress is known to trigger migraines because of its ability to alter patterns in the brain’s allostatic load, the cumulative physiological stress response.

Similarly, research has shown that relaxation after stress can help trigger migraines. According to a 2014 study, relaxation after stress appears to be a more serious trigger for migraine than stress itself. 

What Takes Place in the Brain?

Repeated stressors can reorganize the brain’s natural physiological systems, including the allostatic load. Repeated stress on the brain can cause changes in both active and structural brain networks. 

When our brains are subjected to stress regularly, they develop maladaptive coping mechanisms that cause chronic migraines. 

Symptoms of Stress and Migraines

Symptoms of stress are noticed first before symptoms of a migraine. Some general symptoms of stress include 

  • Chest pain 
  • Muscle tension 
  • Fatigue 
  • Depression 
  • Stomach pain 

Migraine attacks occur in different stages, with each having its symptoms. Some of the general symptoms of migraines include; 

  • Fatigue 
  • Neck stiffness 
  • Seeing flashes of light and blind spots 
  • Abrupt vision loss 
  • Itching in the face and arm 
  • Sensitivity to sound and light 
  • Dizziness 
  • Vomiting 
  • Pulsing head pain on one or both sides of the head. 

Manage Your Migraine By Avoiding Your Triggers

The best way of managing migraine attacks is by avoiding triggers such as stress. While stressful situations can’t be avoided, your response to them can change, which can help reduce migraine attacks.  

1. Reduce your stress levels 

You can reduce your stress levels by staying away from stressful situations. Here are some ways we can reduce stress in our daily routine: 

  • Healthy eating: Consuming alcohol and caffeine could increase stress in the long run. You can alleviate stress by eating a healthy and well-balanced diet. 
  • Regular exercise: Exercising helps you to reduce stress. Aerobic exercises and movement activities such as weight, Yoga, and Tai Chi are perfect routines to help you develop a positive attitude and maintain a good mood. 
  • Practicing relaxation techniques: By relaxing every day, you can manage your stress level and avoid triggering a migraine disorder. Deep breathing, mindfulness, and muscle relaxation are just a few techniques you can consider. 

2. Consider physical therapy for managing headaches or migraines. 

One of the symptoms of migraine can be neck pain. Your doctor may suggest physical therapy if you experience neck pain due to migraine. 

Your physical therapist would begin by thoroughly examining your neck and shoulder muscles.

Your therapist will assess your strength and look for tender spots. The goal is to improve your posture, strengthen atrophied muscles, and stretch spammed muscles. 

Do You Need to See A Neurologist for Your Headache Disorder?

It is easy to feel that migraine is normal, part of everyday life and something you have to live with. This cannot be further from the truth. Migraine can be managed and treated. The best part is due to technology; you have access to the best care from the comfort of your home. 

Neura is a virtual headache and migraine clinic that delivers high-quality care to anyone, anywhere.

With just a $1 subscription charge for your first week, you can enjoy same or next-day neurologist video visits and unlimited 24/7 in-app chat with your headache team. 


  • Elizabeth Burstein

    CEO and Co-Founder of Neura Health

    Liz Burstein is CEO and Co-Founder of Neura Health. She founded Neura Health based on her personal journey with chronic pain, which exposed her to the key challenges of specialist access and care quality that patients face when navigating chronic neurological conditions. Previously Liz led product development teams at digital health companies Maven Clinic and Zocdoc. She started her career in product management at LinkedIn, where she shipped many core products across both the consumer and enterprise side of the business. Liz also spent time as a venture capital investor focused on enterprise AI, healthcare, and consumer technology. She holds dual degrees in Computer Science and Philosophy from Stanford University.