Migraine-friendly ways to reduce stress and take care of yourself
For those living with migraine, finding ways to minimize stress and relax can help reduce migraine attack frequency and severity—making self-care an important part of migraine management. The core of self-care is taking care of yourself and it can come in many shapes and forms from yoga and exercise to well-deserved pampering. As long as you are taking care of yourself, you’re practicing self-care.
We asked our Move Against Migraine Facebook Support Group members to share how they practice self-care while living with migraine. Here’s what they had to say.
What do you do to practice self-care?
Spending Time Outdoors
The great outdoors have always had the reputation of being a relaxing and energizing way to spend time, and in 2019 researchers found that spending 20 minutes connecting with nature can help lower stress hormone levels. “On an energetic day, I love to be outside,” said MAM member Sharon. “I’ll find something to do outside my home.”
How can you enjoy nature as a part of your wellness routine? Find a nature setting near you, such as a park or walking trail, and spend some time outside. Pro tip: Avoid checking social media or other stimulating activities. By doing this, you can enjoy the full effects of nature around you.
MAM member Warner said he finds joy and stress relief in coaching his children’s sports teams. “Watching them improve week over week makes me proud and feels like I’m accomplishing something every practice or game,” he said. “When I’m not on the field with them, I wind down by going for a swim.”
Pampering at Home
There’s a reason why bubble baths have become such a widely known form of self-care: pampering makes a positive impact. But you don’t need a spa to find relaxation; instead, take a break by taking a long, hot shower or giving yourself a hand or face massage. Whatever makes you feel good is all you need to add some self-care into your day.
For MAM member Angela, a home spa day gives her an escape from the “hustle and bustle” of daily life, letting her ease stress and tension. “I lock myself in the bathroom and create my own spa,” says MAM member Angela. “I turn on some music, turn the light down and spend all my time in there.”
There are an unlimited number of ways to create art as a form of self-care. These can include painting, drawing, coloring, needleworking, scrapbooking, woodworking and so many others. Expressing your emotions, stressors, excitement and other highs and lows through art allows for a positive outlet to process life and reduce stress. Plus, you create something beautiful in the process!
For migraine community member Priya, art is about transforming pain into beauty. “I ‘see’ things during a migraine attack, and the older I get, the more colorful and detailed these images become,” says Priya. “Painting these images was an epiphany—I paint anyway, so why not paint the migraine imagery?” Read more about Priya’s story and see her art in our spotlight on this outstanding community member.
Cooking and Baking
We all have to eat, and for some, cooking and baking are an escape into a relaxing and delicious time. Because cooking is a process, each step helps you wind down and gives you a sense of accomplishment. Plus, planning your meals may help you maintain a more balanced diet and identify patterns that could help reduce migraine attacks. You can find more helpful tips in our downloadable Meal Planning Toolkit.
Creating a nourishing meal or an indulgent dessert brings Move Against Migraine member Sonia some peace. It also lets her branch out into something new. “If I am having a bad day, making a good meal that I’ve never tried before helps relax me,” she says.
The American Migraine Foundation is committed to improving the lives of those living with this debilitating disease. With this in mind, AMF founded Move Against Migraine, a Facebook group with the mission to provide support and solutions for people with migraine and their loved ones. Join today to learn more. You can also share your story to show the world what migraine looks like and how it affects people every day. Together, we are as relentless as migraine.
Reviewed for accuracy by the American Migraine Foundation’s subject matter experts, headache specialists and medical advisers with deep knowledge and training in headache medicine. Click here to read about our editorial board members.