5 Ways to Get Rid of Neck Pain Caused by Stress and Anxiety

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Pain caused by stress or anxiety can be a pain in the neck (literally!). Since the average human head weighs about 15 pounds, the muscles in the neck are already strained on a regular basis. Add some physical or emotional stress to the mix, and you have the perfect recipe for chronic, unceasing neck pain. Luckily, there are a few simple things you can do to stop that from happening.

What Causes the Neck to Hurt When You’re Stressed or Anxious?

Pain is typically caused by an automatic reaction in the musculoskeletal and nervous systems after the body experiences trauma. However, stress-related pains in the neck are usually the result of emotionally-driven anxiety which effects the primary muscles and nerves running through the spine, shoulders, and neck.

Becoming so stressed out or anxious that you begin to tense up your body will do great harm to your body, even if only temporarily. On the contrary, long-term tension could create a snowball effect that might lead to chronic neck or back pain. Because of the potentially damaging effects that stress can have on the body, it’s reasonable to consider neck pain remedies before the situation gets out of hand.  

Top 5 Stress-Related Neck Pain Remedies

Most physical therapists advise self-care for minor stress-related neck pain, including the use of emotional coping strategies, dietary changes, and posture correction techniques. Taking an active role in neck pain treatment can help you get back to your routine more quickly. In the meantime, try one of these other highly effective neck pain relief methods before you call a doctor or chiropractor:

  • Get a Gentle Massage

One of the best ways to decrease the amount of pain in your neck is to massage the muscles that are most irritated. Letting someone else do the massaging for you can reduce the amount of strain experienced. Moreover, adding hot or cold compresses can provide quicker relief during a tender rub down.

  • Stretch It Out

Stress-related pain may go away more quickly if you stretch out the muscle running from your lower back to the top of your neck. Several effective stretching exercises come highly recommended by doctors and chiropractors. These gentle workouts can be done in the comfort of your home and without the need for specialized equipment.

  • Try Doing Yoga

Whether you join a class or do poses in your living room, yoga can help relieve tension, ease muscle pain, and reduce stress. In fact, research shows that just a few minutes of yoga can drastically improve your overall health and your ability to cope with stress.

  • Stop the Unhealthy Habits

Smoking cigarettes may be harmful for obvious reasons, but drinking caffeine before bed may have some underlying effects you’re unaware of. Pre-sleep stimulants can create undue tension in your nervous and musculoskeletal system, results in stress-related neck pain even if you’re always in a good mood.

  • Exercise the Pain Away

Moderate exercise has numerous health benefits, and it can also decrease the pain in your neck if you do the right workouts. Time in the gym can increase your cortisol levels, minimize oxidative stress, and relieve pain in the neck, back, and shoulders within a single session.


NOTE: If you cannot get a handle on your emotional well-being and it is causing more than moderate-to-severe neck pain, consult your doctor right away.

Author: Jill Thompson

I've been self-employed for almost four years and I would not change it for anything! I believe that anyone can achieve their goals with the right attitude and determination.

I'm an avid traveler (25+ countries and counting) that loves to meet new people doing amazing things.

When I'm not researching for the Sleep Advisor, you can find me reading, running, traveling, golfing, or meditating.

I wish you the very best on your journey!

  1. Reply
    Hannah Schroeder December 1, 2017 at 12:58 am

    Thanks for mentioning that a chiropractor can offer several effective stretching exercises to help relieve neck pain. I started a new job about three months ago, and I spend all day sitting at a desk typing. When I get home, my neck aches so much that I have trouble sleeping. If I see a chiropractor about my pain, maybe I can sleep better at night.

  2. Reply
    Johndra Coleman January 15, 2018 at 7:50 pm

    I either sleep the wrong way or I am stressed out but my head has hurt for a week over a sore neck. I’m using heating pads and ice packs and it comes back. I need some advice.JC.

    • Reply
      Sarah Cummings February 8, 2018 at 9:20 am

      I would consider visiting a doctor for this. Applying ice or heating packs can lead to more problems if used incorrectly.

  3. Reply
    Sharath January 25, 2018 at 2:49 pm

    This is awesome. All the remedies are so very simple to get rid of the pain out of stress. Thank you for sharing. Agree to the point of gentle massage. That truly gives a great relief.

  4. Reply
    Julius Amberfield February 15, 2018 at 5:02 am

    It sure got my attention when you said that stretching can actually work well in getting rid of neck and back pain and that there were actually some stretching exercises that were recommended by chiropractors to follow. The problem is that I am not sure what those stretches are, so I think it will be best if I just asked for the help of a chiropractor. I seriously need help because the pain in my neck has been around for too long that it has already affected my job. I don’t want to let it get worse. Thank you for the suggestion. I appreciate it.

  5. Reply
    Cathy March 6, 2018 at 6:53 am

    I’m currently being treated by my spine doctor for degenerative disc disease. I’ve have been having issues since March 2017 and it has improved a little. But now I’ve developed sleeping issues. Stretching helps and ice helps with the pain but not much else. The sleep deprivation is starting to affect me at work. I don’t know what else to do. Thank you for your advice.

    • Reply
      Sarah Cummings March 15, 2018 at 4:04 pm

      Hey Cathy, I think you will get a faster answer in our Forum and I’ll ask one of the experts to check your question! You can go to sleepadvisor.org/forum and sign up there.

      • Reply
        Jeana March 29, 2018 at 9:21 pm

        I had MRI came back nothing wrong the back of my neck hurts so bad my head want to come forward it’s hard to keep it up straight none of my doctors can figured it out been to physical therapy did not help do you have any answer

        • Jenn May 24, 2018 at 8:02 pm

          How’s your posture? I have been suffering from debilitating neck and shoulder pain and mine is from anxiety and postural issues. My poor posture has led to muscle imbalances, headaches, and chronic pain.

  6. Reply
    Ridley Fitzgerald April 4, 2018 at 10:07 pm

    Thanks for the tips for alleviating neck pain. My neck has been hurting for months now, and I want the pain gone. I’ll have to try seeing a doctor or chiropractor and stretching the pain away.

  7. Reply
    Naketa April 5, 2018 at 12:26 am

    Hi I’ve been reading a lot of articles and stretching and being active seems to be recommended a lot but I can’t move from where I am every time I move or become overwhelmed by the situation my neck cramps up and spasms out.

    Not sure if I should wait it out or seek medical attention.

  8. Reply
    Kishan April 6, 2018 at 7:11 am

    Hi Sarah,

    Its been a 5 days I am having feeling that there is something in my throat.. Its not actually a pain but not able to describe it. I been to a Doctor she mentioned its an anxiety and due to anxiety I got this. Can you please share if its critical or the ways to improve upon it.

    • Reply
      Sarah Cummings April 7, 2018 at 12:10 pm

      Hey Kishan, I know that feeling! I had it a few years back 🙁 For me it was anxiety but I can’t say it’s 100% that for you too. I would definitely go to a specialist.

  9. Reply
    Frank April 28, 2018 at 12:13 am

    I had massive anxiety. I had horrific insomnia. I am taking klonopin and seroquel for sleep. I used to have a lot of tension headaches, they are gone,I sleep great. I work out a lot so I feel 90% better but I still have tenderess and pain when pushed behind my ear. Weird? I wonder if perhaps I’m still recovering from massive stress or is there a specialist or supplement to “heal” muscles? Thank you.

  10. Reply
    Minnse May 6, 2018 at 9:01 pm

    Thank you so much. I am going to try stretching and massage my neck. Hope that it will work. My pain is caused by sitting too much at the desk & bending my neck for hours. Tnks for the advice

  11. Reply
    Harry Singleton October 26, 2018 at 5:17 pm

    I think most neck and back problems are caused by tension and anxiety.Often it is stuck in our subconscious mind,My advice is something very simple Breathe in very deeply .As you breathe in keep repeating something like confidence optimism and tranquillity,Keep doing this for maybe 15 minutes.Also do it when you feel the pain.Too often we tend to tighten our muscles where we feel the pain.Do the opposite to this relax them

  12. Reply
    Jose Hernandez January 10, 2019 at 2:33 am

    Thanks for sharing. I was just diagnosed with anxiety after months of neck pain, reflux issues and chest pains. So, yes things get worse is you don’t take action soon.

  13. Reply
    Nimu January 23, 2019 at 10:28 pm

    Hi i had an anxiety for almost 1 month i experienced phlegm in throat and neck pain like stiff neck, i could hardly sleep at night because i feel the pain in my neck.. Thank you!

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