3 Essential Steps to Coping with Migraine Pain
How many of you have been told by family members, friends, colleagues, or the internet that you can push through your migraine if you “just get up and get out of the house? Or” You have to exercise,” they say. How many of you keep pushing through migraines because if you don’t, nothing gets done or you feel like a failure as a parent?
Pushing yourself through the pain has become the norm. We end up torturing our bodies to meet the demands of our families and our work schedules. We want to meet deadlines, have a career, keep a social life, and be involved with our kids’ activities. Rushing, not sleeping, and pushing ourselves to the point of exhaustion has become a valued trait in our culture, but it’s to the detriment of our mental and physical health.
Are there options?
Sometimes, we have to slow down and sometimes, we need to simply stop. We’re not designed to move this fast without recuperation. Migraines and other stress-related illnesses are reminders of this.
That’s why I find it important to talk about the topic of pushing yourself too hard. You may be making things worse for yourself. Let’s go over some facts first, and then talk about some ways to cope with migraines without losing your schedule.
- The average chronic Migraineur suffers at least 15 headaches per month.
- The World Health Organization classifies migraines as one of the top 20 chronic diseases that have the most years lost to disability.
- Chronic migraine is different from regular pain. There are other neurological symptoms like fatigue, cognitive impairment, nausea, and vomiting involved.
- Most chronic migraineurs have a high sensitivity to sensory stimuli, so noise, light and smells can often trigger an attack.
- Migraines are physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting. They deplete your hormones and this makes it even more difficult to cope with the pain.
Facts About Stress-Triggered Diseases
If you’ve read some of my other posts, you know that adrenal fatigue and migraines are closely related to stress. Did you also know that stress can lead you down the road to additional illnesses? Stress puts you at higher risk of developing or worsening problems like:
- Heart disease
- Diabetes (stress raises glucose levels and increases the likelihood of bad eating behaviors)
- Depression and anxiety
- Gastrointestinal complications
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Premature aging
3 Steps to Cope with a Busy Schedule and Migraines
Now the real question: how do I slow down and keep an active schedule? Simply and realistically, the answer is that you may have to sacrifice something first, but it won’t be what you think:
Step 1: Sacrifice your pride a little.
We are a proud culture. We love the feeling of achievement after we work hard on something. We love the excitement of reaching short- and long-term goals. Getting there is always a journey, and it’s usually filled with stress.
It’s time to stop putting so many expectations on yourself. We’re harder on ourselves than anyone else is on us, so we must be more forgiving. When a migraine starts peeking its head around the back of your eye, take a breath and take a break, even if only for a few minutes.
It’s worth laying down for an hour to avoid going into day-long, dark-room hibernation mode. It’s better to rest at the onset for quicker restoration than it is to get benched for a few games because your entire body needs to shut down.
Find what works for you, but if you’re in the heat of excitement or business and you feel that migraine devil pushing its way out of your skull, take a break.
Step 2: Do a Risk Assessment and Create an Action Plan
Keep a migraine diary. Try to avoid triggers, if you can’t, build a solid action plan into your schedule.
For example, let’s say you have a presentation at 9 am Tuesday and your son’s soccer game at 5 pm. You know this is going to be a doozie, with late nights and questionable moods. Big presentations are like an incubation chamber for your migraines. Therefore, schedule yourself for a 15- to 30-minute quiet meditation immediately before and after the presentation.
Step 3: Finally, Love Yourself More
If reading that created a visceral reaction with an eye-roll, then this is the step you’ll want to focus on. I can sum up this entire step in one sentence: Treat and talk to yourself as you would a child who is too hard on themselves.
Migraines can get out of control, but getting over that obstacle of feeling like you either have to have a full schedule or none at all starts with relieving yourself of some of that pride. There is a middle ground. Find your triggers, create action plans, and love yourself. This is the only way to move forward.