New Method of Therapy for Stress Related Headaches in Students

Researchers have discovered an interesting new method for exhausted students to relax and relieve themselves of stress-related headaches.

Teenagers report higher levels of stress than adults, and cite school as the highest contributing factor, according to the American Psychological Association‘s annual report. A summary from 2013 concluded that while stress among Americans was not new, “what’s troubling is the stress outlook for teens in the United States.”

In response, some schools have recently turned to mindfulness-based programs as a way to alleviate stress among their students. These programs could benefit from more research into what activities students find most useful.

In a pilot study led by the University of Washington, researchers explored art-based mindfulness activities that schools could use to reduce headaches, a common side effect of stress in adolescent girls.

After three weeks of twice-weekly mindfulness and art therapy sessions, the girls reported experiencing significantly fewer headaches. At the beginning of the study, the girls reported 7.38 headaches, on average, within the previous two-week period. At the end of the study, that number had dropped to 4.63 — almost a 40% decrease. This drop remained even seven weeks after the study had ended. The researchers published their findings in the journal Art Therapy.

While the teens experienced fewer headaches after the study ended, their overall stress levels didn’t change much—but the students reported feeling better in the moment, saying that they felt like they could handle whatever happened for the rest of the day.

University of Washington