Migraines are often called an "invisible" illness. You don't look sick, and people believe you "only" have a headache. The unpredictable nature of migraines creates another set of tensions.
If you don’t come to terms with your migraine diagnosis, you could create the conditions for more or worse migraine attacks. Changing your outlook goes a long way towards not just coping but living with migraines.
Here are some ways to help you achieve a positive focus.
Acknowledge Your Feelings
Everyone has different feelings about being a migraineur. Don’t ignore yours. You might be discouraged, frustrated, maybe even angry. It’s OK not to be OK. Acknowledge that those feelings exist within you. Only then can you do something about them.
Mindfulness can be helpful in these situations. Practicing mindfulness means experiencing your feelings but from a place of observation. Don't hang onto the emotions, but don't try to push them away.
Perform deep breathing exercises and let the emotions run their course. You’ll find your mind clear and ready to move on.
Listen to Your Body
Your body tells you when something is wrong and may hint at what will make things better. Listen to it. The need to take care of yourself doesn’t mean you are weak. Only you know what your body needs when a migraine hits. If you need to stay in your darkened bedroom, you are listening to your own needs. Take the time to get better. Don’t allow yourself to feel worse than you already do.
Pushing yourself to remain active at work or home saps your productivity. It’s better to take care of yourself, so you can get back to being you.
Believe In Yourself
We all talk to ourselves. What we say is important. You are your own cheerleader. Make it a point to speak comforting words to yourself, especially if nobody else is around to do it. Your migraines and illness are not your fault. You are not to blame for the issue.
Tell yourself you’ve got this. Have the same compassion for yourself that you would for someone else in your situation.
Create an Encouragement Toolkit
What makes you feel better? Is it music? A podcast? Or a book of quotations? Whatever it may be, put together an encouragement toolkit full of the things that comfort you.
Make a kit of quotes, meditations, songs, and anything else that would keep you going during a migraine attack. The toolkit also comes in handy if you become depressed because of your diagnosis. Migraineurs often suffer from depression, as well.
Prepare for the Inevitable Migraine
Migraines are going to happen. You likely carry medication with you in preparation for an unexpected migraine attack. Take that same attitude when thinking about how to take care of your emotional needs that come with the migraine.
Include others in your strategy. You don’t need to go through this alone. Your friends and coworkers, who may be with you when the migraine hits, will feel less helpless if they know what to do for you.
Be Flexible with Relationships
Hopefully, friends and family are there to support you in your time of need. But toxic relationships, or even individuals who do not offer the support you need have no place in your life.
Learn to let people go. The relationship may be rekindled later. But don’t fret over a relationship that isn’t working for you. You will meet others who are willing to help and add value to your life.
Practice a Positive Outlook
There’s an old song that tells people to accentuate the positive. There truly is power in positive thinking. It isn’t easy to get started, but like any habit, enough repetition makes it possible. Another old-fashioned way to say this is to count your blessings
You are the only one who knows precisely what you feel and think. You are also the only one who can control how you respond to stimuli. Having migraines is a bummer, but you can’t let your diagnosis rule your life.
Consider the positive side. Have you met interesting people you may not have encountered before? Some people put together a “migraine” family, a group that understands what the illness is like.
Look for reading material, videos, or other resources to help you look at your life from a positive perspective. Take up a hobby that interests you. Tell yourself what you have that is good and overwhelm those negative feelings with positive ones.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
At the Migraine Relief Center, we are always ready to help our patients. But sometimes you may need help from other directions.
Counseling is an effective form of self-care. Find a counselor who understands migraines and the comorbidities that occur with them. Having someone to talk to about your feelings and help you with coping strategies is invaluable in your efforts to live as normal a life as possible.
You can build a whole team to help you with the various issues that come with a diagnosis of migraine. Physicians are just one part.
Educate Friends, Family, and Coworkers
Unless they suffer migraines themselves, friends, family, and coworkers really do not understand what you are going through. But they don’t like feeling helpless. They know you don’t feel well, so you aren’t hiding things as well as you think.
Instead, bring them in on your problem. Educate them about what a migraine is, how yours affect you, and what you try to do when one begins. Tell them what they can do if they notice a problem.
Set up a support group to get you home from work or somewhere else if you are away from home when the migraine hits. Let someone know where to find your medication and who to call if needed.
Let them know you appreciate the assistance.
Family, in particular, needs to know what to do when you must retreat with a migraine. If you aren’t home, arrange to call ahead so a family member can prepare your room for your arrival. The calmer everyone can be, the better. If they know what to do and are ready for what you are like in the midst of an attack, they won't panic. They will be in a better place to help.
Changing your outlook on migraines isn’t easy. It’s like trying to create a good habit. It takes time and repetition to get your mind running along the right path. When you feel yourself veering off-course, recognize what’s happening and begin working to right your course.
Laying a supportive groundwork eases the way towards positive change.