Migraine Prescription: Vacation

It’s no secret that stress is one of the primary migraine triggers. It increases brain activity, making your central nervous system more sensitive and narrowing blood vessels in the brain. As a migraineur, there are hidden triggers you must learn to avoid, but there are also some things you can control, like your stress levels. 

As migraineurs, stress is a constant concern because it often serves as a trigger for both cluster headaches and migraines. 

One of the best prescriptions for stress relief? Vacation.  That’s right – skipping town may be just what the doctor ordered when it comes to getting your migraine symptoms under control.

Your Brain on Vacation

It’s no secret that relieving symptoms of anxiety and depression while focusing on lowering your stress levels can have a profound effect on the brain, putting you in a meditative state and allowing the mind to unwind and recharge.

Consider it for a moment: when you think of the most soothing and calming sounds, what comes to mind? I’m betting something like ocean waves crashing against the sand or a waterfall are at the top of the list. There is just something soothing and tranquil about the ocean breeze, the waves, and the smell of wet, salty air. Or, for others, being surrounded by the sounds of nature does the trick.

Regardless of what your ideal vacation sounds like, being somewhere that brings you joy, happiness, and an overwhelming sense of ease can help you recuperate from the mundane and day-to-day stresses of life. 

Can Vacation Help Relieve Migraine Symptoms?

Many people suffer from migraines on vacation, usually at the very beginning of the trip.  But whether you experience migraines while on vacation or you vacate because it relieves your migraines, there are a few factors to consider when connecting the link between taking a holiday and your migraine experience:

●       The foods you are eating on vacation will, of course, play a role.  Don’t throw caution to the wind and splurge with greasy and sugary foods.  Stick to the foods you know won’t hurt you. 

●       How much sleep you get.  Many of us struggle with sleep on vacation because of unfamiliarity, excitement, nerves, or any number of emotions.  Develop a healthy sleep routine you can easily carry over to vacation.  

●       The amount of time you spend outside is a big one to keep in mind. Most of us are vitamin D deficient, so don’t lock yourself up in the hotel room.  Get outdoors for natural sunlight!

●       How stressful your schedule is at home can carry over into vacation and cause problems. It’s important to address stress-coping skills before going on vacation.

●       Alcohol and caffeine consumption is a given, as they’re such common triggers.  Be mindful of how much you take in on vacation. 

If you notice a decrease in frequency or severity of symptoms when on vacation, you may want to start focusing on managing common stressors at home. On the other hand, if your migraines are more persistent when you go out of town, take a long look at your vacation habits and the role they play in triggering an attack.

Stress and Migraine

It’s common for migraine attacks to come after a stressful eventas the actual structure of the brain changes when under duress. Stress contributes to the frequency and intensity of a migraine, but when all stressors suddenly go away (like on vacation), it can spell trouble for migraineurs.  Going on holiday is a luxury that allows us to step away from daily challenges and participate in self-care, but without healthy habits, for migraineurs, it could spell trouble.

Vacation migraines are a real concern for a lot of people. Migraine is the third most common illness in the world.  It’s difficult, if not impossible, to predict when an attack will happen. For many people, a migraine settles in before you’ve even had a chance to think about relaxing on vacation.

Understanding the connection can help you learn how to manage your attacks properly and prevent them from ruining those memorable moments.  Or, at the very least, exploring the link will give you an excellent place to start. 


Curable Health – Vacation Migraines: Headache on the First Day of Vacation? Try This 5-Minute Exercise

Inc.com – How the Beach Benefits Your Brain – According to Science

Migraine Foundation – Migraine Attacks