5 Simple Tips for Housekeeping with Chronic Migraines

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Let’s face it- Chronic migraines and housekeeping just don’t belong in the same sentence.  How are you supposed to keep your kitchen spic and span when your head is pounding like a jackhammer and you think you might vomit?  You can’t, and that’s okay.  If you suffer from chronic illness like migraine headaches, fibromyalgia, or chronic fatigue syndrome, then even achieving the “appearance of clean” is a huge accomplishment.  Here are some migraine-friendly tips for keeping your house together with little effort.


Tip #1: Lose the clutter

SIMPLE TIPS FOR HOUSEKEEPING WITH CHRONIC MIGRAINES, MIGRAVENTWhat’s the definition of clutter?  If you ask the packrat, he’ll say that it’s “everybody else’s stuff.”  But if you suffer from chronic migraines and fatigue, then clutter is “anything you haven’t used in over a year that requires dusting or organizing and takes up space.”

Take a good hard look at your closet, your kitchen counter, and your bathroom sink.  When was the last time you wore that pair of shoes, or those pants?  If you can’t remember, then you probably don’t wear them often enough to justify the amount of closet space they use.

What about your bathroom counter?  Can you reduce the amount of migraine medicine bottles, brushes, and bath supplies that are littering your shelf space?  If so, then swiping a wet cloth along the counter will be a cinch.

Getting to the kitchen- the fewer kitchen gadgets, dishware, and serving sets you have, the less stuff you’ll have to clean later when you’re having a migraine attack.

Lesson learned: Donate to charity- let your stuff be somebody else’s headache!


De-Clutter your Home, De-Clutter your Mind for Stress Relief

Tip #2: Don’t try to be Martha Stewart

SIMPLE TIPS FOR HOUSEKEEPING WITH CHRONIC MIGRAINES, MIGRAVENTKnow your strengths and weaknesses, and make no apologies.  Yes, it would be nice if your living space was skillfully streamlined and artfully arranged with bright white toss pillows…but nobody ever felt comfortable lying down with a headache on one of those rigid, overstuffed grandma couches, anyways.

Comfort should be your design scheme.  Just focus on keeping the books in the bookcase, the dishes in the sink (yes!), the dirty laundry in the laundry room, and the mop in the storage room where you left it the last time you almost cleaned the kitchen floor, but your migraine wouldn’t let you.

Lesson learned: Nobody’s gravestone ever read, “She suffered migraines, but at least she kept a clean house.”

Tip #3: Waste not, rest not

It might not be the most environmental thing to do, but substituting disposable plates, napkins, forks, cups, foil, and pans is a great way to reduce migraines and cut down on the amount of kitchen cleanup later.  And while cleaning your kitchen counter with paper towels might be seen as wasteful, it’s still a lot healthier than using a kitchen sponge, which is often laden with disease-causing headache-producing germs.

If the notion of using paper plates still offends your Greenpeace loyalties, then seek out paper goods made from recycled fibers that are also recyclable.


Lesson learned: Be kind to the earth, and yourself.

Tip #4: I am the tortoise

Who says you have to clean every room in the house at once?  For that matter, why do all the dishes in the sink need to be cleaned right now?  Gauge your energy level and migraine status, and pace yourself accordingly.  On three-alarm migraine days, only clean something if you absolutely need to have it right this minute.  Other days, when you have moderate energy, take 30 minutes to tidy up one room.

If you’ve got the time and your head isn’t hurting terribly, pull up a chair to the kitchen sink, and spend an hour or two washing dishes.  Take lots of breaks.  Think baby steps.


Lesson learned: Slow and steady prevents migraine attacks and wins the housekeeping prize!

Tip #5: Just don’t answer the door

Even if you follow all the above-mentioned advice, there are going to plenty of days when you’ll wish you could just move clutter telekinetically.

Nothing’s more awkward than having people drop by unannounced when your living room is in utter complete chaos.  There’s no reason you should have to suffer migraines and embarrassment at the same time! If you’re not up to receiving guests for whatever reason- a killer migraine, nausea, fatigue, bad hair day, or just messy room- try this:

Carefully crack the door open an inch, keeping the chain latched, and politely say,

“Due to (fill in the blanks), I don’t feel well enough to receive visitors right now.  Please call later (much later), and I’ll let you know how I’m feeling then.”


Lesson learned: If your garbage can falls over, spilling trash in the middle of your kitchen and your friends aren’t there to see it, did it still happen?

Please tell us…

Although this article is more of a tongue-in-cheek look at managing your household with chronic illness, have you found any of these tips helpful?

If you would like to add to this list of suggestions for managing migraines and a household, please comment!

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Read more about managing migraines:

Seven Traits of Highly Happy People with Chronic Illness

Migraine Comorbidity is not a Death Sentence