Our migraine community shares their best self-care tips
There are many ways to add self-care to your migraine management plan, which can make it difficult to choose where to start. We asked our Move Against Migraine support group which aspect of their self-care routine is the most important in reducing the severity and frequency of their migraine attacks. As always, the group came back with a variety of ideas that can fit into any person’s lifestyle. Here’s what they had to say:
What’s the most important step in your self-care routine?
Grace and Forgiveness
We often say “the migraine brain hates change” as a way to describe how consistency in sleep, diet, movement, stress and other factors is important for managing migraine. This can lead to a perfection mindset where you feel defeated and that you aren’t doing enough if you aren’t doing everything “perfectly”, for example, if you have an indulgent meal or miss a workout.
One of the most talked about self-care tips is to show yourself grace and forgiveness, especially when things don’t work out. “I am kind to myself and forgive my mistakes,” says MAM member Kate R. Similarly, fellow member Wendy C. shares that she focuses on “being gentle with myself [and feeling] no guilt about things I can’t control.”
Move Your Body
Staying active is beneficial for both your physical health and your mental health. Moving your body releases endorphins, which can improve your mood and lower stress levels. For MAM member Bill P., exercising is a way to stay connected with nature. The most important piece of his self-care is “walking in natural environments photographing birds.” Eileen Z. also heads outdoors to get in her exercise. “Walking my dog to reduce stress and get more movement,” is what she says is crucial to her wellbeing.
If gearing up and heading outside isn’t for you, there are many ways to move against migraine inside. Genevieve A. prefers an indoor routine, so she practices yoga and stretching every morning. “It sets the stage for my day and makes me feel like I’ve already won,” she says. Other ways to move inside include following along to video workouts or dances and playing movement based games.
Find Ways to Reduce Stress
Stress reduction is on every migraine management list for a reason. Stressors can lead to migraine attacks, so working on stress reduction can improve the frequency, severity and duration of attacks. For MAM member Patricia R. stress was leading to anxiety. She says her self-care is in the form of “getting help for my anxiety.”
Member Donna B. saw her stress manifest in her jaw. “Stress is horrible which makes me grind my teeth,” she says. And member Flo B. has begun working in meditation into her day. “I try to reduce stress as much as possible,” Flo says. “I started listening to more videos on meditations.”
A self-care routine won’t appear overnight, but little steps in self-care can help you grow in self-acceptance, incorporate more movement and reduce stress. And in turn, these all help you better manage your migraine attacks.