Living with Migraines

Living with a migraine doesn't have to be an eternal uphill journey. Actually, it is possible to maintain a good quality of life with good habits.
Living with Migraines

Written by Maite Córdova Vena, 23 July, 2021

Last update: 23 July, 2021

Living with migraines can seem like a rocky road when the diagnosis is received and there are a lot of unknowns. This is because many people tend to imagine that their day-to-day lives will be ruled by intense headaches, irritability, lack of energy, and all the other difficulties that it can bring with it at its peak.

However, living with migraines does not have to mean low or no well-being. On the contrary, when adequate treatment is received and a series of self-care steps are maintained (which serves both to prevent episodes and to alleviate them), the quality of life can be very good. Let’s see more about it below.

Living with migraines: mental and emotional health

Living with migraine means not stressing out
Constant exposure to stressful situations can lead to a higher frequency of migraine attacks.

Stress, anxiety, depression, and general mood swings are triggers for migraine headaches, but they can also arise as a consequence of it.

Since it isn’t realistic to try to live without stress or going through ups and downs, learning to manage your thoughts, emotions and feelings is the most appropriate (and beneficial) way in the long run. To do this, there’s cognitive behavioral therapy and a wide variety of techniques.

Mindfulness, yoga, and deep breathing exercises are some of the most effective and contribute the most to overall well-being. Taking advantage of them is more than recommended.

Keep in mind that, as you take care of your mental health on a day-to-day basis, not only will you be able to cope with stressful or difficult situations more easily, but you’ll also be able to prevent discomfort from somatization and migraine episodes.

Take care of physical health

When it comes to living with migraines, always try to maintain a holistic approach. While taking care of mental and emotional health is an important component in our day-to-day lives, physical health shouldn’t be neglected either.

Exercise regularly, including leisure activities that help clear the mind, release tension and have fun. Eat a healthy diet, avoid excesses, follow the doctor’s guidelines and, ultimately, maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Do exercise

You don’t have to join a marathon or force yourself to do 2, 3, or more hours of gym per day to stay healthy and prevent migraines. Daily exercise should become a pleasant activity, which can be adapted to your lifestyle.

If what you like the most is swimming, then take advantage of this sport. However, if you prefer training at home or combine several activities to maintain a varied routine, then this is the best way. The important thing is that you stay active, but feeling good.

  • Yoga is one of the most recommended exercises for people suffering from migraines because it has been shown to contribute to well-being.
  • High-intensity exercises and strenuous routines aren’t recommended because they can exacerbate a migraine.
  • When exercising, it’ll be essential to maintain good hydration at all times.
  • If you usually lead a sedentary lifestyle, you should start exercising little by little.

Eat healthily

Living with migraine involves making dietary changes
While it’s always advisable to follow a balanced, low-ultra-processed diet, not all restrictions work the same for everyone. A classic example is the consumption of coffee.

Regarding diet, there are no specific guidelines. Some people benefit from certain options and others don’t. For this reason, each person must pay attention to what benefits them and what doesn’t.

Some people have migraines when they eat foods like chocolate or avocado. Therefore, they avoid them as much as possible or consume them in small quantities. However, there may be others who aren’t affected by these foods in the least.

The consumption of caffeine sources continues to be of interest to researchers given how ambiguous the results have been. In some people, drinking coffee exacerbates symptoms, while in others a reduction in their usual dose can lead to a migraine episode.

Regardless of what you choose to eat, it’s best to keep the following in mind:

  • Don’t skip main meals
  • Keep regular meal times
  • Avoid excesses, ultra-processed, junk, coffee, alcohol, chocolate, etc
  • Maintain a healthy weight

According to studies, some supplements can be incorporated into the diet (prior authorization from the doctor) to prevent episodes of migraines. Some of the most used are magnesium supplements, B vitamins, and others.

Take care of social life

Although you may sometimes have to skip a meeting, outing, party, or event because of a migraine, this doesn’t mean that you have to give up your social life completely.

Talking with family, friends, and relatives about the difficulties that migraine can pose at times, informing them about the disorder and helping them understand how to empathize with you and help you when you’re not feeling well is a good positive step.

  • Knowing how to communicate what a migraine is all about and what you need is good. Let people know that they’re not random demands.
  • You can plan meetings with your loved ones that don’t involve stress or too many sensory stimuli (noises, bright lights, smells, etc.) that may trigger a migraine.

Maintain a favorable work environment

If you have been diagnosed with migraines, it’s important to let people know at your place of work. Not only your colleagues, but also your employer. In this way, when you have to be absent due to a migraine attack, everyone will understand the situation.

Many people just hand in the report the doctor gave them, but the ideal thing would be to talk (at least briefly) with your employer about the difficulties that migraine headaches can cause at times and what you might need to feel better.

Keep a migraine diary

To complement all of the above measures and help you maintain your well-being, your doctor will most likely recommend that you keep a migraine diary. This will be a very simple way to identify what’s good for you and what isn’t so good. You can record details that, at the end of the day, won’t only help you to get to know yourself better, but also to take better care of yourself.

You can keep a migraine diary on your cellphone’s notepad or by downloading an app, as well as in a paper notebook. Just have to choose the option that’s most comfortable for you.

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