Migraine headaches are extremely disruptive to your life.
They can be very painful, even interrupting your day, week, month, or even your life. However, there is a ray of hope. Making a few lifestyle changes can alleviate the intensity and duration of your headaches.
Controlling your migraines may start with controlling your lifestyle. If you are at risk for migraine headaches, you can make changes in your day-to-day life that may help lessen the severity of a migraine attack. Here are some basic lifestyle changes that have been shown to help migraine sufferers:
Get some sleep – Many people underestimate the power of sleep. Did you go from having energy to having none? Are you less capable of handling work or home situations? It could be due to your sleep patterns. Lack of sleep produces stress in your body. When your stress level increases, the chances for a migraine increases, too. Adults need at least six hours of uninterrupted sleep a night to mend and heal the body. During a regular sleep cycle, the body goes to work repairing itself. Without this maintenance and repair cycle, stress accumulates and sets up the perfect condition for migraines to occur.
Take time to rest – Even if we sleep at night, when the day gets hectic you may need to have a short nap or just some time to relax your body. Taking a break in the middle of the day recharges your batteries and gives you a chance to unwind and release the stress building up. Take a cue from kids in kindergarten and lay down for fifteen or twenty minutes each day in a quiet spot. Close your eyes, gaze off into the distance, or do whatever makes your mind get quiet and your body relax. Do not read, do not watch TV, do nothing that adds data to your brain; just stop everything.
Exercise – When exercise is done regularly, it can reduce your incidence of migraine episodes. Exercise relaxes the muscles as it also builds stronger ones. Regular exercise reduces stress, and stress contributes to tension. Exercise also increases endorphin production in the brain, the ‘feel good' hormone. Maintaining a healthy weight has also been shown to reduce the occurrence of migraines. Of course, if you are in the midst of a migraine, then exercise is not advisable.
Avoid food triggers – Keep a headache diary to help you determine if any foods or food additives are triggers for migraines for you. Avoid eating any of the foods you have identified. This may limit your choices, but the freedom from migraines is well worth the sacrifice. Don't forget beverages and sweets, too. Many people find things like red wine, coffee, and chocolate trigger migraine headaches. Even the use of simple sugar has been a culprit for some people. Take your food triggers seriously and you could reduce your incidence of migraines.
Eat healthy and regularly – One common trigger for migraines is skipping meals. When you eat at regular intervals throughout the day, you keep your metabolism on an even keel. Small meals and snacks rather than two or three large meals keeps blood sugar levels even and energy levels up, too. Eating healthy, nutrient-rich foods also help the body function more efficiently, pumping vitamins and minerals through your entire system. You will also most likely avoid some of the common food triggers if you eat whole foods instead of prepackaged or fast foods.
Stress factors – This is a big topic, and one that can't be ignored. There are many stress factors in everyone's life, but in the case of a migraine sufferer, these issues become known as ‘triggers.' Are you in a job you can't tolerate? Are there unresolved issues in your family or marriage? Are there money issues that keep you awake at night? Any one of these can cause enough stress to bring on migraine headaches. Making a lifestyle change in one of these areas may require the help of a therapist, pastor, doctor, or other supportive third party. If migraine headaches have become an interruption in your life, it's time to talk to your doctor about all these issues.
Take control of your life and your migraine headaches. Lifestyle changes will not only help you live a healthier life, but one that is hopefully free of migraines.