. HOW TO FIGHT A MIGRAINE .
I’m taking a slightly different take on today’s career tips feature, bear with me, rather than my usual career advice, I thought today I’d focus on one of the issues many of us encounter as a result of stress (or genetics). Work life balance, wellbeing and health are incredibly important things to ensure you achieve in life, but often with a busy work life, a demanding career and an ‘always on’ job, stress and tension are an issue many of us no doubt encounter. Both stress and tension can have serious side affects to your health, and I for one suffer as a result, both with IBS but also more critically, migraines.
I’ve always suffered with migraines since I was a child, originally diet based triggers, but more so in adult life stress & general lifestyle can cause me serious, debilitating migraines. Unfortunately i’m the sort of sufferer who ends up poorly in bed, sick from their migraines, which means for me, knowing the signs of a migraine and being prepared to combat them are a top priority. For anyone who has to deal with this daily, it can start to have a negative impact on their lives.
I won’t go into the medical side of migraines, nor the symptoms as often people encounter different signals or symptoms (instant and severe headache, auras, dizziness, difficulty speaking, nausea, even stroke like symptoms etc), but what I wanted to share was my top tricks for fighting a migraine once one occurs (or when I feel one coming on). As my Migraines can often last 48 hours, I really try to do as much as possible to avoid the migraine fully kicking in.
These tips are, of course, not medically founded, they’re simply the things that help me get through an episode & are tricks which I think will help many people who suffer with headaches.
. BE PREPARED .
If you are a regular migraine sufferer like I am (I have a severe migraine every few weeks) then first of all, be prepared. Whilst you might not know exactly when you’re migraine is going to hit, at least if you have the right drugs or tools on hand, you’ll be in a good place to fight it (i’ve had migraines on flights without any meds and it’s awful). I always carry around my essential kit for fighting a migraine (4head, which I find absolutely incredible at easing the throbbing pain, a nausea based migraine relief tablet, as well as general pain relief & sunglasses to protect from bright lights), at home I also ensure i’m always stocked up on medicine just in case & Jase now knows how to look after me when i’m suffering from a migraine which is always good, to have someone who understands the symptoms, what you need & what they can do to help.
Preparation also comes in a more longer term approach, and that’s based on focussing on your diet and wellbeing, ensuring you’re eating foods that will aid the situation and not hinder it, as well as supporting your body and core from tensions (pilates & yoga is great for this). I for one used to find that Chocolate could actually bring on a migraine, so it’s worth taking a look at your diet and health to see what could be done to improve, or whether there are any key dietary triggers which you could cut out.
. SPEAK TO YOUR DOCTOR .
This may sound a little dramatic, but it is definitely worth speaking to your doctor if you start suffering from Migraines regularly, not least because they might be able to help, but also because there are a number of other things to consider if you’re a migraine sufferer. For example, due to my migraines, I have to take the POP pill (mini pill) to avoid risk of blood clots. It may be that medication or the contraceptive pill you are on only hinders your migraines, so it’s worth reviewing all options. The doctor may also be able to subscribe you specific medicine which can aid your specific symptoms too, so it’s always worth seeking advice. I personally use over the counter products like 4Head & Migreleve which I find the most effective at easing my migraines and nausea, solpadeine soluble capsules are also very effective at relieving pain (you’ll often find that a lot of medicine does nothing to help, so really discovering what works for you is key).
. REST .
This tip is genuinely hard to do, but when you get the first signs of a migraine, whether that’s a painful headache, an aura, or general feeling of sickness, then STOP. I mean literally stop, go home, take a break, get some fresh air, take some time out. I am absolutely awful at doing this, particularly when i’m at work, i’ll just struggle on, but there’s no point. All that will happen is your migraine will get increasingly worse, you’ll feel increasingly more sick & you’ll end up in bed for hours if not days. There’s been many a time when i’ve tried to push through and ended up being sick at work from my migraine & ended up putting myself out for more time no doubt, than if I just stopped and rested in the beginning!
If you’re migraine is extremely bad then you’ll have no choice but to stop and seek bed as they truly are debilitating. Get home, get into bed & rest.
. SEEK DARKNESS .
The only thing that truly helps my migraines go is to find the darkest place possible, no light, definitely no noise, and absolutely no distraction. When I am suffering from a sever migraine I may end up locked in darkness for 6 – 1o hours. It’s often the combination of drugs, sleep and darkness which will eventually help my migraine pass. Beyond darkness, I always find a very cold flannel helps too, resting on my forehead after a heavy dosage of cooling 4head has been applied. I find my migraines make me very hot and nauseas, so this really helps cool my body back down.
Sometimes it can be impractical to simply go to bed, but if your migraine is unbearable, this will be the only way to eventually recover. On one of my first dates with Jase 7 years ago, he cooked me dinner at my uni house, I was so excited, but ended up in darkness in bed asleep with an awful migraine. But 7 years later we’re still together, so don’t worry about the short term implications of taking a moment out, just focus on getting better when a migraine occurs.
. RELAX YOUR MUSCLES .
Whilst migraines aren’t always caused by stress and tension, I do find that muscle relaxation can often help prevent migraines & also ease them once you’re suffering from an episode. Muscle relaxation can be achieved a number of ways, firstly longer term measures to ensure you’re posture & muscles are in check. I personally have bi-weekly 30 minute back massages where the masseuse focuses on my core tension points & does some reflexology to help relieve any potential migraine inducing tension. If you’re already suffering from a migraine then there are some little reflexology tricks you can do yourself to help the pain, massaging your temples, finding the pressure points in your thumbs and toes & applying a firm pressure to these areas, as well as pinching the top of your nose, where you’ll also feel tension. Another way to relax your muscles is through relaxing oils or scents, as I mentioned I find 4head which is a sort of menthol type rub brilliant at easing tension on my forehead, but even things like Vix rub or oblas oil can help relax you a little, if you’re rested up in bed, why not also try some lavender oils which are also known to help. Don’t go OTT, as with sound and light, smell can sometimes hinder you, but anything menthol based I find does help a lot.
There are most definitely a number of ways to help cure a migraine, or get through a migraine episode, but for me it’s all about being in darkness, taking nausea reliving medicine (Migraleve is my go to), massaging my pressure points, using cooling & menthol based balms & generally just sleeping! Whilst it doesn’t appear to make any sense, drinking some coffee is also said to help ease the pain (a paradox I know) & the more obvious route of drinking water is always a good idea as often dehydration can make things a lot worse.
Most importantly of all, don’t panic, keep calm, do whatever you need to ease the pain. Work and other commitments can wait, kicking your migraine in full is critical else you can find it drags on for days! These 5 tips are things which I find aid my migraine relief, but i’d love to also hear your top tips if you too suffer from headaches and migraines?