A migraine headache is the reason today’s post, unlike my usual posts, is appearing so late in the day.
Migraine headaches are the worst headaches you can experience. I had my first when I was pregnant with my oldest son. I had no idea what it was; I thought I might be a really fast growing brain tumor. Hey, I was young. I spent that day lying on a recliner with all the shades drawn and running frequently to the bathroom to vomit. It was a nightmare.
Since then I’ve learned what to do for migraine headaches, especially if I act as soon as the signs I’m getting one show themselves. The following tips, from the Mayo Clinic, may help you if you suffer from these horrific headaches
- As soon as you feel a migraine coming turn off the lights and keep things quiet. Migraines often increase your sensitivity to lights and sound. Try to sleep or at least relax in a dark, quiet room.
- Caffeine, in small amounts, can relieve migraines in the very early stages. It also enhances acetaminophen and aspirin. I take an OTC migraine pill and drink a cup of coffee if I recognize a migraine coming on and this alone can often stop the headache in its tracks
- Hot and cold packs can help relieve the pain. Cold numbs the area which can dull the pain sensation and heat can help relax tense muscles.
- Sound sleep can help prevent migraines so having a regular sleep schedule can help. Even on weekends go to bed and wake up at the same time. And avoid naps unless they’re no longer than 30 minutes.
- Don’t overdo sleep. Some of my worst migraines were triggered by sleeping too long.
- Take time at the end of the day to unwind; soak in a warm bath, listen to music, or read a book. Avoid intense exercise, heavy meals, caffeine, and alcohol near bedtime.
- Keep distractions to a minimum. Don’t take your paperwork to bed. Avoid watching television in bed. If outside noise can be a problem try running a fan to muffle the sound. Close the bedroom door if there are people still up and about when you go to bed.
- Don’t try to force yourself to sleep. If you can’t fall asleep do a quiet activity until you feel sleepy
- If you take medications with caffeine or other stimulants check with your doctor to see if you can take them in the morning instead of at night.
- Eating habits can influence migraines. Eat at about the same time every day and don’t skip meals. Fasting can increase your risk of migraines. Keeping a journal of the foods you eat may help you identify food triggers. If you suspect a food of being a trigger eliminate it from your diet to see if that helps.
- Exercise regularly. Your body releases certain chemicals during physical activity that block pain signals to your brain. These same chemicals also help alleviate anxiety and depression. Try walking, swimming or cycling. If you haven’t been exercising start slowly since exercising too vigorously can actually trigger migraines.
- Manage stress and time. Keep your life as simple as possible. Don’t overdo your to-do list. Both at home and at work try to delegate things you can. Divide the big jobs into manageable sections. Take breaks even if for a few minutes. Stretching or going for a short walk can help renew your energy and relieve tension. Be positive. Attitude plays a huge role in managing stress.
- Take time to enjoy yourself. Set aside at least 15 minutes every day to do something you enjoy.
- Try deep breathing exercises for a minimum of 10 minutes a day. Work on relaxing your muscles while you breathe deeply from your diaphragm. After you have done your deep breathing sit quietly for a couple of minutes.
- Keep a migraine journal. You may be able to identify triggers by keeping a journal. Note when your migraines occur and what you were doing when the migraine began. Write the duration and what provides relief, if anything does.
Living with migraine headaches can be quite a challenge but changing some of your habits may help. If you have a lot of trouble dealing with them you may consider joining a migraine support group. And don’t be afraid to ask loved ones and friends for support. You can take control of the pain. Just believe in yourself.