Living with Chronic Migraine - Coping Strategies: Everyday Things You can Do to Cope

Woman with migraine

Living with Chronic Migraine is not easy. They limit our ability to work and concentrate, they affect our social life, and the pain can be almost as acute as that of real physical injury. Almost one-third of all Migraine sufferers experience moderate to severe disability as the headache and other symptoms make it almost impossible to function normally when a Migraine attack is underway.

Although a complete cure of Migraine has not yet been discovered, it can be treated and prevented with proper medication. However, medication is just one facet of the treatment. There are several non-medical remedies, daily habits, and lifestyle choices that you can incorporate to bring down the frequency and intensity of your Migraine attacks.

ADOPTING A MIGRAINE LIFESTYLE

A Migraine lifestyle isn't that much different from a normal healthy lifestyle. Indeed, many of the known triggers of Migraine attacks are things that are inherently unhealthy; like not sleeping enough, or drinking less water. Having a healthy lifestyle and trigger management system in place along with medication has been proven to contain Migraine much better than simply relying on medication.

Here are some steps you can introduce in your everyday life to that end.

TRACK YOUR MIGRAINE ATTACKS

When you have chronic Migraine, keeping a track of your headaches and attacks can be extremely useful. It helps you to identify your triggers better, helps your doctor to make a correct diagnosis of what kind of Migraine you might be having, and it also helps in understanding the effects of prescribed treatment and medication. Honestly, the first rule of living well with Chronic Migraine is getting accustomed to recording and analyzing your everyday life in detail.

There is a host of information you can track to better understand Migraine. Things that are generally helpful to track are:

Additionally, a deeper tracking of individual attacks is also helpful, especially in identifying and managing triggers. This record can include:

The more amount of information pertaining to your daily life you record, the better you will stand to identify your triggers and management strategies. The Migraine Trust provide a helpful Migraine tracker template on their website that you can download and use. Or, just make one for your own based on the information here.

STICK TO A ROUTINE

Having a routine lifestyle is always easy on your health, but with Migraine, this makes a crucial difference.

Our brains have their own system of alerting us to potential danger through neurotransmitters like Cortisol, a spike in which can lead to pain. When you have Migraine, your brain becomes sensitive to minute changes, both internal and external. That is why environmental factors like weather changes or bright light/sound/smell can trigger attacks, as well as hormonal changes. These changes can lead to unwarranted Cortisol spike, and trigger a headache.

When you stick to a routine your brain is less likely to be surprised and triggering an alarm-like response.

What to do:

SLEEP WELL

Sleep is essential for the wellbeing of your body and mind. A host of very important bodily functions take place when you sleep, and insufficient or poor sleep can lead to myriad health problems. It is also one of the biggest triggers of a Migraine attack. When you are diagnosed with Migraine, then, ensuring sound sleep should be a priority.

Fix sleep hours: Most healthy adults need 7 to 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night, but the exact length for a complete restful sleep session can vary person to person. There are signs throughout the day to determine whether you are getting the optimal amount of sleep; like if you are tiring easily, how much caffeine you are instinctively reaching for etc. When you find out, try not to deviate from it.

Reduce nap time: Many of us are in the habit of taking naps during the day, as it often helps with occupational stress and workload. But spending too much time in naps can eat into your night's uninterrupted sleep hours. Try limiting nap durations to 20-30 minutes.

Many of us are in the habit of taking naps during the day, as it often helps with occupational stress and workload. But spending too much time in naps can eat into your night's uninterrupted sleep hours. Try limiting nap durations to 20-30 minutes.

Eliminate distractions: Make sure your sleeping place is dark and noise-free. Use dark and heavy curtains and window sealers if necessary. Don't watch television in or do office work in the bedroom.

Prepare for sleep: With our busy lives, it is often difficult to let go of the stress before going to bed, and that interferes with sleep. Before going to bed, take some time to unwind. Read a book, listen to soothing music, do meditation or breathing exercises. Do not stare at the phone or laptop screens. If you had a heavy supper, wait at least an hour before going to sleep.

Don't try to sleep: If you can't sleep, do not stress about it. The more you think about it and try, the less you are going to be able to fall asleep. Keep doing light activities like reading or meditation, push your mind elsewhere. After a while, you will naturally tire out.

REGULATE EATING HABITS

When it comes to Migraine, when to eat is as important as what to eat. Several types of foods and beverages have been known to trigger attacks, as well as disrupted timing of meals. Here are a few ground rules to follow:

When to eat:

What to eat:

How to understand food triggers:

Incorporate the details of your meal intake in your Migraine tracker. Record the frequency, content, and gaps between each meal you take. It would make it easier for you to identify if you have any food triggers and take necessary steps.

EXERCISE WITH MODERATION

Exercise is a tricky subject when it comes to Migraines. Many Migraine sufferers have reported that exercising triggers headache in them. Yet, on the other hand, there is ample evidence that a regular exercise regime actually helps in bringing down the frequency and intensity of Migraine attacks, and may even prevent Migraine from developing in the first place. So what should you do?

Why do exercises trigger Migraine?

In the majority of cases, it has observed that exercising itself doesn't trigger Migraine. The triggering factor is usually the conditions in which the exercise is undertaken. You may find yourself beset with a headache after an exercise session if:

Except for the accidental injury, every other factor can actually be corrected or manipulated without compromising on the benefits of exercises.

How exercises help with Migraine?

There is no doubt that having a regular exercise regime is greatly beneficial to your health. And, the better your overall health and fitness level is, the less you are likely to get Migraine. Also, some of the benefits of exercise have a direct impact on the intensity and triggers of your Migraine.

The trick here is exercising with moderation and proper planning.

MANAGE STRESS

Stress is an unavoidable part of our current lifestyle, and also one of the most frequently reported triggers of a Migraine attack. Stress affects Migraine sufferers in broadly two ways:

Now, stress is something we cannot simply wish away, but there are ways to manage and minimize it. Here are a few tips that you can incorporate into your lifestyle.

CONCLUSION</span

Excruciating pain, sickness, loss of opportunities and productivity, not mention social life -- all of these are part and parcel of living with Chronic Migraine. But modifying your lifestyle according to your needs and triggers, in addition to medications, can get you a long way in living a relatively pain-free life.

Contact us today if you are experiencing chronic headaches and need consultation.

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Premier Neurology

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