Does thinking about the holidays cause headaches? Learn how to manage your migraines… eat migraine-friendly party foods…reduce stress…determine your seasonal migraine triggers…and have the holiday you deserve!
There’s nothing merry about migraines.
Let’s face it- most of us get a bit stressed out as the holiday season approaches. Even if you don’t suffer from migraine headaches, you’re liable to get the occasional tension headache. Family stress, work deadlines, pricey gift tags, and the constant influx of party food and alcohol all add up to one big migraine attack.
Don’t let the Migraine Monster turn you into a Grinch! Here are some excellent tips for coping with stress and finding headache relief…
Watch out! Here come the triggers…
What are the classic holiday comfort foods? Hot cocoa, nut-crusted cheese balls, wine spritzers, ginger spiced cappuccinos, gifted dried salami, ageless fruitcake, chocolate-coated EVERYTHING, and Buffet Casserole Surprise.
These are all trigger foods for some unsuspecting migraineur.
Tip #1- Question the cook, or bring your own goods to the party!
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Don’t be the life of the party!
You’re going to be in many situations during the next few months in which you will be offered numerous alcoholic drinks, at either work parties, family parties, or New Year’s Day parties.
Tip #2- Avoid hangover headaches by knowing your alcohol limit!
Don’t go to late-night parties, and don’t be ashamed to excuse yourself early if you feel tired. Disturbing your regular sleep pattern is your ticket to migraines. Avoid sleeping late, even when you have the day off, and resist the temptation to take a cozy winter afternoon nap.
Tip #3- Sleep regular hours to avoid headache symptoms!
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When you can’t remove yourself from a stressful situation, you need to learn how to cope. Learn how to recognize certain cues as your body’s natural reaction to stress- heart palpitations, tension headache, profuse sweating, and anxious thoughts. Accept that stress and anxiety come and go, and that you have the ability to control your response, and thus prevent stress-related migraine headaches.
Tip #4- Understand that migraines don’t own you!
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Assuming that physical exertion is not one of your migraine triggers, try to include exercise in your daily schedule- even if it means avoiding the elevator, parking on the other side of the parking lot, or walking to work. Exercise reduces stress, burns calories, increases circulation, and promotes good feelings.
Tip #5- Stay active!
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Ignore the collective holiday frenzy. You don’t have to make it to the mall before it closes- it will open again tomorrow. Guaranteed. And if you get stuck in traffic, use the opportunity to practice relaxation techniques, collect your thoughts, clean out your purse (with one hand!), or just listen to the radio.
Tip #6- Take it easy!
Many of us have unrealistic expectations when it comes to the holiday season. We’re so worried about keeping up with the Jones’ holiday parties, and finding our place in the Have’s and Have-not’s, that we often forget to appreciate the circle of friends and family that we already have. No wonder you have headaches!
Tip #7- Find some holiday truth!
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Recognize the symptoms of depression.
This is probably the hardest part of the holiday season for migraine sufferers- it’s the Depression Double Whammy! Migraine patients are naturally prone to depression and anxiety. Add to that seasonal depression that affects migraineurs and non-migraineurs alike, and you have a prescription for disaster. Studies prove that depression worsens chronic headaches, causing a vicious circle.
Tip #8- Conquer depression: stay connected to friends, seek help, find out if you suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and if necessary, inquire about taking antidepressants.
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Chalk it up to the weather!
Weather changes are a common migraine triggers for many headache sufferers- shifting barometric pressure, temperature ups and downs, and humidity cause constant seasonal headaches.
Tip #9- You can’t avoid the weather, but you can prepare for it!
Don’t get sniffly!
Flu bugs, head congestion, fever, watery eyes, sore throat, and sinus headaches are all unfortunate realities of the holiday season. Find out if natural migraine remedies can help alleviate some of your cold symptoms as well. Take extra vitamin C. Gargle salt water often. Use saline eye drops. Ask your headache doctor if antihistamines are safe for you to have on your current migraine management plan.
Tip #10- Nurse yourself well!
Read more about migraine prevention:
Can Anxiety Attacks cause Migraines?
De-Clutter your Home, De-Clutter your Mind for Stress Relief
What Is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?
6 Mindful Ways to Minimize Holiday Stress
New survey highlights holiday misery for migraineurs
How to Avoid Holiday-Induced Migraines
Image credits, from top:
Idea go, photostock, Ron Bird