The holidays are the busiest time of year for many. If you are a migraineur, it can be even more stressful. You don't have time for migraines, but the activity, stress, and changes in routine can exacerbate the chances of developing them.
To gain some peace of mind, pull together some of these pain relief tools to help you manage your migraines and have a joyful holiday season.
What to Look for in a Migraine Management Tool
To begin with, avoid any product that claims to “cure” migraines. There is no known cure for this complicated neurological illness. Any product that makes the claim of a cure is probably a waste of money and time.
Look for products that promote well-being and relaxation. Taking care of yourself and preventing migraines is your best bet for a more pain-free life.
Tools for Symptom Relief
Both ice and heat help relieve migraine pain and stress that could result in a migraine.
Heat/ice packs can offer either course of treatment. These products are usually tubes of fabric filled with seeds, rice, and aromatics, which can be placed in the microwave or the refrigerator, depending on your needs. You can easily mold the pack to the back of your neck or around any body part that needs therapy. Also, these products provides weighted compression that helps some people with their headache pain.
Heat relaxes tense muscles and keeps your extremities warm during a migraine attack. A heating pad that is shaped specifically for the head and shoulder area helps the most.
Other helpful products that help with cold therapy are ice rollers. An ice roller provides cold therapy and massage. You can keep one in the freezer for emergencies, and it stays cold for a long time. Roll it on your forehead, temples, neck, and shoulders.
Some miscellaneous tools for pain relief include the following.
- Epsom bath salts
- Massage with different pain rubs, lotions, or sprays
- Neck and should relaxers
- Trigger point massage balls
- Back and neck massagers
- Specialty pillows
Epsom bath salts and massage lotions can be paired with aromatherapy. Use lavender, peppermint, or another pleasing essential oil along with a warm bath or massage.
Menthol patches are available that can provide a cooling sensation and are portable; keep a couple in your purse or desk. They stick to the skin and can be used in conjunction with medications. You can also obtain roll-ons with cooling menthol or lavender. Use them on pressure points for quick relief.
Neck and should relaxers, back and neck massagers, and trigger point massage balls offer a variety of ways to loosen tense muscles. The trigger point balls are portable. Specialty pillows come in different shapes. Find one that works for you. Some come with two chambers that cradle your head while supporting your neck.
If you appreciate acupressure, you can purchase a special mat with thousands of tiny spikes to stimulate pressure points and relieve stress and pain.
If your migraines are triggered or made worse with light, you have a couple of options.
One is a specialized pair of glasses that block wavelengths in fluorescent light that worsen migraine pain. Another is a cooling and light-blocking eye mask. These masks often feel good even at room temperature, but you can place them in the freezer for added cooling. Many come with a Velcro strap to attach it to your head.
For compression therapy, you can get a weighted mask that blocks light while compressing your head. It can be chilled in the refrigerator or freezer for some added cooling.
Sensitivity to Sound
If sounds make your migraine worse, purchase earplugs or a hat to muffle the sound. Focus on your breathing and try meditation to ease symptoms.
Tools by Trigger
If your migraine trigger is a particular smell, it seems counterintuitive to use scent to combat it. However, many essential oils are helpful (as long as you don’t choose the scent that triggers your migraines.)
Use a diffuser or apply oil to pressure points. Find a reputable dealer that sells high-quality oils.
Nausea and Dehydration
For some, nausea comes with migraines, but it can also keep you from eating or drinking, so you become dehydrated, resulting in a migraine. Migraines sometimes cause unhealthy cravings that cause you to eat the very thing you should avoid.
Keep a bottle of water with you at all times, carry protein bars to replace missed meals, and have a mint to reduce nausea.
Coping Tools for Migraine Attacks
Besides pain relief, you may need a distraction while medication or other tools take effect. Movies, games, social media, and music can provide that distraction. Just take care with screen time and volume level since light and sound may make the migraine worse.
Emotions can intensify during migraine attacks. Join a community that answers questions and gives advice and support when you need it. Connect with people who understand without judging. Support groups are available online and in person.
Volunteering and doing things for others can feed your spirit, especially during the holidays. Treat yourself and others to something special to celebrate.
A Last Word
No migraine tool works for everyone. You may have to try several different tools to find the ones for your toolbox. Also, tools that worked before may not work again.
Do your research. Don’t believe the hype that builds up around specific products because nothing is effective every time. The best tools and products are those that fit your lifestyle and needs.
Take some time to put together your toolbox before starting the holiday whirl. It will keep giving all year long so you can enjoy life with less pain.