Living with migraine can sometimes feel powerless, but it’s important to remember that there are steps you can take to better manage your symptoms and take control of your disease. Whether it’s consulting a headache doctor or keeping a food journal to better understand your triggers, taking action can improve your life with migraine in real, measurable ways. Join AMF and our #MoveAgainstMigraine community in resolving to make 2019 the year you take control of your migraine. Here are five resolutions proposed by our members that can make life with migraine better, plus resources and actionable steps to make these goals attainable.
1. Stay away from red wine
Taking control of your diet to manage migraine is a great resolution for the New Year. Many people living with migraine report that their symptoms appear when they eat certain foods. Food triggers are a common phenomenon: learning more about how certain foods affect you and removing them from your diet makes a difference for many.
Alcohol is a common migraine trigger, while red wine is the most-cited culprit. One member made it a goal to “keep a strict diet plan for inflammatory response.” Anti-inflammatory medications are commonly prescribed to treat migraine, and a diet that supports this provides additional relief.
2. Start practicing yoga, even if it’s only for 10 minutes a day
There’s evidence that regular exercise can reduce the frequency of migraine attacks. Yoga is a great way to start! Exercise not only reduces stress, a common migraine trigger, but also helps regulate sleep and combat obesity, which contributes to migraine. Health coach and migraine activist Caroline Alvo shared her tips about how exercise “attacks migraine from all fronts” and how to start exercising if you live with migraine that inspired many of our members to make exercise a goal in 2019.
3. Find a headache specialist
Many factors determine how effective a migraine treatment will be for an individual, including the type of migraine you have and key components of your lifestyle. That’s why it’s so important to work with a doctor who can design a custom treatment plan for you. Our directory of headache specialists can help you find an expert in your area. Once you’ve made an appointment, read about the different treatments available and learn how to prepare for your first visit to a headache specialist.
4 Reconnect with People
It can be difficult for people living with migraine to maintain relationships with friends and family. A strong support network can make a big difference, but a lack of understanding from those around you can generate stress and anxiety, making matters worse and making life with migraine even harder. This free guide to talking to people in your life about your migraine can help you build and strengthen your support system. Kimberly realized her pain got worse when she isolated herself and shared with Move Against Migraine that her goal in 2019 is to reconnect with people she loves.
5. Remain hopeful in the face of adversity
Migraine is a severe, disabling disease, and on a bad day it’s easy to feel dejected about your diagnosis. But it’s important to remember that you’re not alone, to join our community of 13,000 migraine warriors who understand, and to advocate for yourself and seek real solutions. Remember the aphorism – “pain is inevitable, suffering is optional”. Whether your goal is to stay hopeful or you need help staying committed to your other migraine resolutions, our group is here for you to provide the support you need to live your best life.
The American Migraine Foundation resolves to continue supporting the millions of people living with migraine. Read our doctor-sourced articles about migraine and treatment, use our interactive map to find a headache specialist near you and follow us on social media for the tools that you need to make 2019 a year of fewer migraine attacks.
Lifestyle Strategies That Might Help Your Migraine
In this traditional Chinese practice, an expert puts tiny needles into your body at specific points. Small studies suggest better manage your symptoms it can ease migraine pain and may also lower the number of headaches. You should still keep up with your other treatments, too.
Your body responds to pain with physical changes like a higher heart rate, tensed muscles, or cold hands. In biofeedback, sensors measure these shifts, then feed the information to you as a blinking light or a tone you can hear. You learn to respond to the feedback and relax your muscles and better manage your symptoms. Some studies show it can often ease headache pain and how often you get migraines.
Early research shows massage may lower the number of headaches in some people. It doesn’t help with pain once a migraine starts. Massage can also ease stress, a common headache trigger.
Because migraines are often triggered by stress, relaxation training is a great idea. Methods include deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation, in which you tense and relax the muscles in different parts of your body. With practice, this technique can improve how you handle stress, which may cut down on headaches.
Regular cardio exercise — workouts that get your heart pumping — could make a difference. A Swedish study compared exercise with relaxation and a drug that prevents migraines. The cardio routine — 40 minutes, three times a week — worked as well as relaxation or medicine in cutting down on pain and how often headaches strike.
There’s some question about how to better manage your symptom swhether this technique, also called getting “adjusted” by a chiropractor, can help with migraines. But one small study found it worked just as well as medication to prevent headaches.
There are some risks with this treatment, so talk to your doctor before trying it.
Cognitive behavioral therapy, which focuses on changing your thoughts and actions, may help you have fewer migraine symptoms.
Getting therapy doesn’t mean you have emotional or mental problems. It can give you a fresh approach to situations that usually give you headaches. It works especially well when you also do other preventive treatments.
Some people find that certain foods trigger their migraines. Some of the most common culprits are alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, canned foods, cured or processed meats, aged cheeses, cultured dairy (such as yogurt), MSG, and aspartame.
Write down your meals and snacks in a “food diary” to help you remember what you ate before a headache came on. Then cut out these foods one at a time to see if it helps.
Many people find that putting gentle pressure on the head, face, and neck during a migraine can help ease the pain. Techniques to try:
- Press your brow line and under your eyes.
- Rub your temples and jaw in a circular motion.
- Massage the base of your skull with a tennis ball.
A variety of head wraps and bands claim to ease migraine pain. They’re inexpensive and might be worth a try.
Studies show that poor sleep and migraines often go hand in hand. So rethink your routine. Things to try to get better shut-eye:
- Don’t read, watch TV, or listen to music in bed.
- Don’t take naps.
- Don’t eat heavy meals within a couple of hours of bedtime.
- Don’t use your phone, laptop, or tablet at bedtime.
Keep Up Good Habits
Your lifestyle can have a big impact on how often you get your headaches. These tips can help:
- Don’t skip meals.
- Stay hydrated.
- Get regular exercise.
- Stay at a healthy weight.
Why Try Treatments That Aren’t Drugs?
They may be a good option if you:
- Don’t get relief from prescribed treatments
- Have trouble with medicine side effects
- Have a condition that keeps you from taking migraine drugs
- Simply don’t want to take medication
Do Your Homework
If you’d like to try a new way to treat your migraine, your doctor can tell you how well it works and if there are any risks. She may know of an expert who specializes in these treatments. And she can check to make sure they won’t have bad side effects.