They say New Year resolutions are made to be broken. We don’t believe it. Some may fall by the wayside, but the ones that help and make a difference are the ones you’ll keep up.
In no particular order, here are ten ways you can retake control of your life and build stronger coping strategies when migraine strikes. Choose the ones you think will be of most benefit then try to keep it up for at least a month. After that, if it’s not working you can confidently try a different approach. The important thing is avoiding a ‘victim’ mentality, and taking a proactive attitude to managing your migraine.
#1. Get Fresh Air and Exercise
They’re both things we could all use a bit more of, whether we suffer from migraines or not. For migraineurs, be aware of your triggers and arm yourself accordingly, especially if you’re exercising outdoors in bright sunlight, or indoors (say at the gym) where there’s the chance of loud music.
#2. Review Medication
Is your medication still as effective as when you first started? Has it never been really effective but you’ve put up with it? The New Year is a good time to make a clean sweep and ask your doctor for a medication review if you suspect things are not working as well as they should. Maybe a change would help you control pain better.
#3. Evaluate Your Care Team
Your specialist care team, from doctors to neurologists and other specialists, should work with you, not against you. We’re all human, and personality clashes won’t help you form the best partnerships. If you feel you’re not making progress with your medical team, investigate other options.
#4. Your Migraine Journal
Have you kept it up? If not, now’s a good time to make a renewed effort to log your migraine attacks. We always think we’ll remember what happened and when, but details easily get forgotten. Along with noting down pain levels, circumstances and situations, meds and action taken, you can also note down any questions you want to ask the doctor at your next appointment or review. The diary doesn’t need to be extensive or time consuming. Basic notes that will help you identify patterns and triggers over time is all that’s needed.
#5. Know Your Triggers
From disrupted sleep patterns to certain foods, drinks and even missed meals, light, or noise levels and stress, all kinds of things trigger migraine episodes. Everyone is different, so it’s vital you understand your danger points and plan to avoid them. Your diary can help you thoroughly understand your condition.
#6. Drink More Water
Dehydration comes on without us realizing, so don’t wait till you’re thirsty to take a drink since thirst is an early dehydration symptom. Take care with water substitutes if you dislike drinking water on its own. For instance, you may think you’re including plenty of water when you have a coffee, but caffeine can have a diuretic effect, causing you to quickly lose the fluid you take in.
#7. Eat Healthy Foods
Eliminate as much fat and sugar as you can to keep your body healthy. But don’t feel you have to deprive yourself of the tasty treats everyone enjoys. Choose healthy foods from all the food groups and eat wholesome, balanced meals whenever possible. It’s easy to get into the fast food habit, but even healthy-seeming options have hidden sugars and fats.
#8. Go Guilt-Free
Migraine often goes hand-in-hand with guilt. When you feel you’ve let people down or are taking too much time off work, it can be nearly as crushing as the pain. Resolve in 2016 to do all you can to banish guilt from your life. Take action by talking to people. Explain how you feel, and don’t be afraid to ask for support.
#9. Marshal Your Support
Your support team is an important part of daily life. Help at home, understanding from bosses or colleagues at work, and kind friends who lend a hand or a non-judgmental ear are vital for migraine sufferers. Know who makes up your support team, then don’t hesitate to delegate tasks or request help. People who care for you would rather help than see you get ill from pushing yourself too hard.
#10. Take Control
In many ways, migraine sufferers have to find their own way of coping. Migraine doctors and specialists help, but no-one knows your body better than you. Taking control means having a deep understanding of your migraine and how it affects your daily life, then taking the necessary actions to protect and care for yourself.
Coping with migraine is a bit of a marathon. You need stamina and determination to keep going through the tough times. Having your strategies in place through 2016 will help when you’re up against it.