How to Relieve Neck Stress

by Shemiah Williams

Neck pain and neck stress are one of the most common physical symptoms of stress and anxiety. Stress is known to cause muscle tension in the body due to an involuntary response to pressure or apprehension. Learning to manage stress is a long-term solution for relieving neck stress; however, there are things you can do in the meantime to find relief.

Items you will need

  • Topical analgesic such as Ben-Gay or Aspercreme
  • Clean towels
Step 1

Stretch your neck and shoulders. Neck stress is a result of muscle contractions in the same area. Gently stretching your neck in the morning and throughout the day keeps the neck muscles loose and pliable. Simply rolling your head in a slow circle, both clockwise and counterclockwise, is an effective stretch. To do this, lean your head to one side and slowly rotate your neck in a full circle. Switch sides and repeat.

Step 2

Use a topical analgesic cream such as Ben-Gay or Aspercreme. Menthol is typically the active ingredient in these creams and is effective in relieving stiffness and pain in muscles and joints.

Step 3

Use an over-the-counter NSAID (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. These drugs are non-habit forming and are helpful in treating mild pain or soreness.

Step 4

Use a hot or cold compress. Sensations of heat and warmth are useful in treating muscle conditions. Make a simple cold compress by placing ice in a plastic bag, wrapping it in a towel and applying it to the neck for 5 to 10 minutes at a time. Make a warm compress by saturating a small towel and placing it in the microwave until warm. Apply to the neck until the towel cools down.


  • Be sure not to overextend your neck while exercising to avoid additional neck stress or pain.

About the Author

Shemiah Williams has been writing for various websites since 2009 and also writes for "Parle Magazine." She holds a bachelor's degree in business and technology and a master's degree in clinical psychology. Williams serves as a subject matter expert in many areas of health, relationships and professional development.