Home / Blog November 08, 2023 Updated on November 16, 2023

6 min read

14 Tips On How To Relieve Tension In Your Neck And Shoulders From Anxiety

In this blog, we discuss how anxiety can cause tension in your neck and shoulders. You’ll also find some handy tips and tricks on how to prevent this discomfort, and how to deal with anxiety-related neck and shoulder pain when it arises.

sleeping with heated neck wrap to relieve tension


Neck and shoulder tension can result from anxiety, poor posture, and muscle overuse.

Stretching, relaxation techniques, and ergonomic adjustments can help bring relief

Managing stress, staying active, and adopting good habits also bolsters holistic wellness. 

Did you know?
Roughly 20% to 70% of adults will experience neck pain that affects daily activities at some point in their lifetime.

Feeling tension and discomfort in your neck and shoulders can happen for various reasons, ranging from our everyday habits to the effects of anxiety. Let’s take a closer look at causes and also some tips and practical tricks to help you alleviate and prevent that nagging tension in your neck and shoulders. 

Can Stress Cause Neck And Shoulder Pain?

You may be curious whether there is a relationship between shoulder pain and emotional stress. Well, the simple answer is yes! Let's break down how anxiety can cause shoulder pain and tension in the neck first:

1. Body's Stress Response: Anxiety triggers your body's "fight or flight" response, which prepares you to deal with a potential crisis, even if there isn't one.

2. Release of Stress Hormones: Anxiety leads to the release of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, potentially causing muscle tension.

3. Muscle Contraction: The stress response prompts muscles to contract, and in the case of anxiety, it's often the neck and shoulder muscles that tense up.

4. Hyperventilation: Anxiety can cause rapid and shallow breathing, upsetting the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your body, and potentially leading to muscle cramps and tension in the neck and shoulders.

5. Increased Heart Rate: Anxiety elevates your heart rate, making muscles, including those in your neck and shoulders, prone to tensing up

6. Poor Posture: Anxiety can lead to poor posture, like hunching your shoulders or scrunching your neck, which can result in muscle tension.

7. Repetitive Thoughts and Worry: Anxiety is often accompanied by repetitive and distressing thoughts, which can lead to physical tension in the neck and shoulders

8. Emotional Stress: Anxiety can manifest as physical symptoms, including muscle tension in various parts of the body.

Taking care of your mental well-being is crucial for not only reducing anxiety but also for relaxing tight neck and shoulder muscles. Anxiety can not only affect the quality of your sleep but also lead to waking up with neck pain.

Lady sitting with bearaby calmer

Why Else Could I Have Tension In My Neck And Shoulders?

There are many culprits that may be behind the discomfort you feel in your neck and shoulders, especially after a long day. Below, we list some reasons that could be causing the stress in your neck, shoulders, and sometimes, even your upper back!

1. Poor Posture: Did anyone ever remind you to "sit up straight"? Well, they're onto something. Poor posture, like slouching or hunching forward, can really stress out your neck and shoulders, leading to muscle tension and stiffness.

2. Muscle Overuse: Sometimes we push our muscles too hard. Whether it's from repetitive movements or lifting heavy things, overstretching our muscles can lead to muscle tension in the neck and shoulders.

3. Stress and Anxiety: When we’re feeling overwhelmed, our body naturally responds by tensing up, and that often shows up as tightness in the front of the neck due to anxiety.

4. Prolonged Sitting: If you spend a lot of time sitting, especially in front of a computer, it can mess with your posture and cause shoulder pain.

5. Lack of Physical Activity: While we need to be mindful of overuse, our muscles do need to be used to prevent atrophy. Insufficient physical activity can lead to weak and tense muscles, including those in your neck and shoulders.

6. Sleeping Position: Believe it or not, the way you sleep matters! If you're snoozing in an awkward position or without proper head and neck support, it can contribute to the tension in your neck and shoulders.

7. Injury or Trauma: Past injuries or trauma to your neck or shoulders can leave lasting tension and discomfort. For example, if you’ve had an injury to your left arm or left side of your neck it’s possible you’ll also experience, say, right or left shoulder stiffness.

8. Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions, like fibromyalgia or cervical spondylosis, can be the cause behind chronic neck and shoulder tension

Remember that individual factors and experiences can vary, so it’s important to identify the specific causes of your neck and shoulder tension and tailor your pain-relief approach accordingly.

Next, let’s have a look at some tips on how to relieve stress in the neck and shoulder area.


Calmer cta

Weighted warmth, lasting calm

Made with tension-melting Terraclay™

Ergoflex design molds to your neck

Clay Cozy
Calmer cta

Cocoonable, couchworthy perfection

Sleep tips for restful nights

Unveil the secrets to restful sleep and join the Napperhood for a chance to win our perfect weighted blanket, the Cotton Napper. Get expert tips and insights delivered to your inbox.

Cotton Napper cta

Tips On How To Relieve Tension In The Neck And Shoulders

So, how exactly can you get rid of tension in the neck and shoulders from anxiety? There are multiple ways: some remedies are helpful for generally relieving anxiety, and others are more specific for tension in your neck and shoulder area.

1. Stretch It Out: Give your neck and shoulders a good stretch. Try tilting your head gently from side to side, and rolling your shoulders backward. This can help loosen up tight muscles.

2. Warm Compress: Try placing a heating pad or a warm neck wrap, on your neck and shoulders. A sustainable option that brings soothing relief is our Calmer heated neck wrap. Ergonomically designed and gently weighted, the Calmer is filled with tension-melting Terraclay™ that can stay warm for about an hour after you’ve heated it.

3. Give Yourself a Mini-Massage: Ever tried a little self-massage? Use your hands or even a tennis ball, pressing gently on the tense spots with small circular movements.

4. Sit Up Straight: Pay attention to your posture. Sitting up straight and avoiding slouching can do wonders to prevent tension.

5. Make Your Workspace Comfortable: If you spend a lot of time at a desk, make sure your chair and computer screen are set up in a healthy way. You want your screen at eye level and your chair comfy.

6. Chill Out and Remind Yourself to Relax: Stress can really tighten those muscles. Deep breaths, meditation, or taking some quiet time for yourself can help

7. Move Your Body: Exercise can be a game-changer. Activities like yoga or even a simple walk can keep your muscles happier.

8. Over-the-counter Help: For really stubborn tension, over-the-counter pain relievers can provide relief. Ask a pharmacist for suitable recommendations.

9. Stay Hydrated: Don't forget to drink plenty of water! Being well-hydrated keeps your muscles in good shape.

10. Pillow Talk: Make sure your pillow and mattress are comfy. A good night's sleep is a real tension buster. A bolster pillow, like our all-natural Cuddling, can help remove tension from your upper back by providing support for relaxing and resetting your tire muscles.

11. Put the Devices Down: Be mindful of how much time you’re spending hunched over your phone or computer to give your neck and shoulders a break too.

12. Make Time for Relaxing: Find activities that help you relax. Reading a book, listening to music, or taking a warm bath are all simple and effective stress-relievers.

13. Lighten the Load: If you carry a heavy backpack or shoulder bag, try to distribute the weight evenly or consider a backpack with two straps.

14. Seek Professional Help: If the tension just won't subside, it might be time to chat with a doctor or a physical therapist. They can offer extra tips and advice.

All these tips on how to relieve tense shoulders and neck can help but it’s important to remember to reach out for medical assistance if the pain lasts for longer than a week. As you seek pain relief, it is also vital to create a sleep space that maximizes neck and shoulder muscle health. In the next section, we outline ways to sleep better if you’re struggling with neck or shoulder pain.


Cuddling cta

Ergonomically designed

Soothing travel pillow

Cooling linen covers

Cuddle up
Cuddling cta

Cocoonable, couchworthy perfection

Sleep tips for restful nights

Unveil the secrets to restful sleep and join the Napperhood for a chance to win our perfect weighted blanket, the Cotton Napper. Get expert tips and insights delivered to your inbox.

Cotton Napper cta

How To Sleep With Neck And Shoulder Pain

Sleeping with neck and shoulder pain can be a challenge, and it’s also not uncommon to experience intensified neck pain from sleeping. Here are some practical tips to keep in mind:

1. Sleeping Position: Try to sleep on your back. This position can help keep your neck and spine aligned. If you prefer to sleep on your side, read more about how to sleep on your side without hurting your shoulder.

2. Choose the Right Pillow: Invest in a good, supportive pillow that's designed for your sleeping position. A body pillow like our Cuddler is made with plant-based MelofoamTM that is responsive and great for lumbar support. The MelofoamTM does not fall flat, so you can sleep soundly knowing your body is staying aligned all night long, without the risk of waking up sore.

3. Sleep Environment: Make sure your mattress is comfortable and provides adequate support. A mattress that's too soft or too firm can exacerbate pain. You could also consider a mattress topper for extra comfort.

4. Put a Pillow Under or Between Your Knees: If you're sleeping on your back, placing a bolster pillow under your knees can relieve pressure on your lower back and help with overall comfort. Side sleepers can benefit from placing a pillow between their knees to keep the spine in a more neutral position.

5. Warm Compress: Apply a warm compress to your neck and shoulders before bed to help relax tense muscles. Try a heated neck wrap like our Calmer, which is an ergonomic gently weighted neck wrap filled with tension-melting Terraclay™. The Calmer neck wrap is ideal for providing warm, calming relief to your neck, back, and shoulders.

6. Medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers can help if you're experiencing pain that's keeping you up at night. Always use them with caution and follow the recommended dosage.

7. Stretches Before Bed: Gentle stretching exercises can help relieve tension before bedtime. Slowly and carefully tilt your head from side to side and roll your shoulders.

8. Relaxation Techniques: Practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation, to ease your mind and body at bedtime.

9. Avoid Sleep Disturbances: Minimize disturbances in your sleep environment. Keep the room dark, quiet, and at a comfortable temperature. Consider using earplugs or a white noise machine if you’re a very light sleeper.

bearaby calmer relives neck pain

When To See A Doctor

Knowing when to see a doctor about neck or shoulder pain is important for your well-being. Consider seeing a doctor if you experience any of the following:

  1. Severe or prolonged pain
  2. Recent injury or accident
  3. Numbness or tingling in the neck or shoulders
  4. Difficulty moving your neck or stiffness in your shoulders
  5. Pain radiating down your arm
  6. Fever or unexplained weight loss
  7. History of cancer
  8. Other unusual symptoms like chills and nausea
  9. Chronic tension or recurrent pain in the shoulders and neck 

If you're unsure about whether or not to see a doctor, it's a good idea to reach out and discuss your symptoms. Your doctor can provide guidance and determine the best course of action to address your neck and shoulder pain.


As you go about your daily activities, neck and shoulder tension can sneak up on you. But putting a few of the tips we shared into practice, gives you a holistic toolkit for showing that tension the door! Also keep in mind that it's not just about fixing it after the fact – after all, prevention is better than cure! Managing stress, staying active, and paying attention to your posture and overall needs can keep tension at bay.