Living with migraines is a challenge, but there are things you can do for yourself that help reduce the frequency and severity of your migraines. In fact, self-care is an essential part of maintaining your quality of life.
Here are some self-care tips for migraineurs. Read through them and give them a try; you may find that using several together will alleviate your pain and help you live your best life.
Watch What You Eat and Drink
Diet and hydration are two watchwords for keeping migraines at bay. So much depends on the quality and timing of your meals. Be sure to eat on a regular schedule, and don’t skip meals. Hunger and low blood sugar can trigger migraines.
Keep a migraine diary to track your meals and help you determine if anything you eat is triggering your migraines. Stick to fresh foods, but you don’t have to leave out all your favorites. As with everything else in life, moderation is key.
If you enjoy cooking and baking, those can be relaxing pastimes that help you reduce tension and maintain a balanced diet.
When it comes to water, drink plenty throughout the day. Try keeping a hydration checklist or other record of your liquid intake. Try using a cute water bottle to remind you to hydrate. Maybe adding orange or lemon slices can entice your taste buds to encourage you to drink more water.
Don't forget that other fluids count, too. Juice and water-containing fruits and vegetables help your hydration levels.
If you aren’t sure how much you need, you can follow the eight 8 oz glasses of water per day. Or you can check the color of your urine. The lighter the color, the more hydrated you are. Just be sure not to take things too far. If you have a heart or kidney condition, talk to your doctor about the right volume of fluids for you.
Exercise and Sleep
Everyone needs exercise, but getting some physical movement each day can keep the migraines away.
Exercise doesn’t have to be intense or high impact. If you like running, do that. If you prefer yoga, go for it. Dance, play sports, or do whatever keeps you moving comfortably.
Walking is exercise, too. Go out for a walk or get on a treadmill for 30 minutes a day. Use the time to listen to music or an audiobook and let the world melt away.
Above all, select an activity you like to keep up your motivation. It would help if you looked forward to exercising, not dread it. Besides helping reduce migraines, movement keeps your muscles and joints loose. Tight muscles can invite migraines.
Along with exercise, be sure to get plenty of high-quality sleep. Lack of sleep frequently triggers migraines.
Keep a regular bedtime schedule and maintain good sleep habits. Experiment a bit and find a routine that works for you. One thing that really helps is to remove the television and any other screens from the bedroom.
Looking at the TV or your tablet, smartphone, or computer can play tricks on your system, convincing your brain that you should stay awake. Keep the bedroom for sleeping, not working.
Talk with your doctor about anything you decide to take for migraines outside of any prescribed medications. Supplements can help, but you don’t want to set up a cross-reaction with your existing medicines.
Magnesium, Co-Q10, and riboflavin (a B-vitamin) can minimize pain. You can take them as supplements from the store or eat foods rich in particular vitamins or minerals. A holistic practitioner may be able to help you select the right supplement; just make sure you do so in conjunction with your regular doctor.
Aromatherapy helps some people relax and reduce the tension that can create the conditions for a migraine. You can incorporate the use of essential oils into your daily routine.
Peppermint and lavender provide relief for many. They can help reduce inflammation, which can especially help with relieving tension headaches.
Always follow the guidelines for using essential oils and avoid anything that triggers your migraines.
Many migraineurs find acupuncture (and acupressure) to be helpful. Acupuncture needles inserted at specific points on your body signals your brain to release endorphins, natural painkillers.
Acupuncture can also release vasodilators to decreased cerebral blood pressure and reduce the pain that way.
If you are familiar with Chinese medicine, you know that practitioners say migraines are typically associated with the liver and gallbladder channels. They say you need to clear the Qi (pronounced chi).
Acupuncture concentrates on any of four key points associated with the liver and gallbladder channels to reduce inflammation, release endorphins, and regulate the flow of Qi along the channels flowing to the head.
Other things to try include:
- Hot or cold compresses
- Working with a physical therapist
- Working with a massage therapist
And always take your medication as directed.
Stress accounts for many migraine attacks. Reducing stress can reduce the frequency and severity of the pain.
Ways to help include reducing your screen time. If you spend all day in front of a computer, give your eyes and neck a break every 20 minutes to stretch and rest.
Avoid lights and noise, especially if they are an identified trigger.
Try meditation and deep breathing. There are multiple techniques — try a few to find the one that works best for you.
Listen to music or create art. Painting, coloring, needlework, and scrapbooking are enjoyable activities that can take the tension down a notch. Listening to or playing music can relax the mind and body. Art of any sort allows you to express your emotions.
Everyone has different tastes in music. Find the sound that helps you relax. Or maybe you just need to listen to nature sounds. Spending 20 minutes in nature can lower stress hormone levels. Find a natural setting nearby like a park or walking trail. While you are there, keep your phone holstered and enjoy the sights and sounds.
Learn to say no when you don’t feel like doing something and take time for yourself. Prioritize your energy and pamper yourself if you need to.
Build a Support Network
Stay connected to friends and family or other preferred support networks. Find people with whom you can share a hobby. Go on hikes. Partake of afternoon tea. Or you can just pull up your favorite show on Netflix to watch together.
Keep a symptom journal to help track your migraines, what triggers them and what keeps them manageable.
If you suffer from migraines, you know best what works for you. Self-care can be part of a holistic program to keep your life on track. However, if your migraines become unmanageable or keep you from living your everyday life, it might be time to visit a specialist to discuss treatment. Our specialists at Migraine Relief Center are ready to help you find the relief you deserve.