Migraine is a common and annoying condition that results in headaches ranging from mild to severe. It is quite prevalent throughout the world and people are often looking for measures to control the symptoms and migraine selfcare tips.
Read more about Migraine – Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment
It is estimated that about 12 percent of the world’s population suffers from migraine of varying severity. The disease is known to run in families.
Besides headache, it may be associated with a variety of other symptoms like nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to sound, light, or smell, tingling or numbness in the hands or feet, visual changes, etc.
It is a chronic condition and can be very debilitating. It can even lead to psychological issues like anxiety and depression and may severely impact a person’s daily life.
Medication is an effective way to treat and prevent migraines. As medicines carry a risk of side-effects, it is important to practice certain selfcare tips for the prevention and treatment of migraine.
Adopting a healthy lifestyle and behavioral changes can significantly reduce the frequency and severity of migraine attacks. It is equally important to learn and understand the various ways to cope with migraine when it strikes.
Below is a list of 11 selfcare tips that you must follow to prevent and treat migraine.
1. Sleep Well
Migraine attacks are often triggered by a lack of proper sleep. Conversely, migraines may prevent you from sleeping or may wake you up at night.
A sound sleep is essential to prevent migraines. The following tips may help you to sleep well:
- Sleep early.
- Go to bed at the same time every day. Maintain a regular sleep schedule as it makes it easier for the body to follow a routine. Make sure to follow this routine even on weekends and holidays.
- Aim to get a sound sleep of at least 6-8 hours daily.
- Eat a light dinner about one to two hours before sleep.
- Stay away from electronic gadgets for at least half to one hour before sleep.
- Relax your body and mind before going to bed as relaxation promotes better sleep. You can meditate, listen to soothing music, have a warm bath, read a favorite book, or spend quality time with your family.
- Avoid strenuous exercise. Also avoid heavy meals, tea, coffee, nicotine, or alcohol as they can interfere with sleep.
- Summarise your day and also plan for the next day. Prepare a ‘to-do’ list for the next day so that it does not weigh upon your mind and allows you to sleep peacefully.
Read more about 7 Healthy Bedtime Habits Everyone Should Follow
2. Eat Healthy and Don’t Skip Meals
A healthy, balanced, and wholesome diet is a must to maintain good health, both physical and psychological. To prevent migraines:
- Eat your meals frequently at regular intervals.
- Maintain a regular eating schedule.
- Never miss your breakfast. Breakfast provides the body with the required energy to carry out the day’s activities and is undoubtedly the most important meal of the day.
- Don’t skip meals as an empty stomach can trigger migraines.
3. Avoid Foods That Trigger Migraine
Keep track of the foods you eat. This will enable you to identify specific food items that trigger your migraine. Maintaining a daily food journal can help in this.
If you suspect that a specific food item is the culprit, eliminate it from the diet.
Changing diet or specific foods that act as triggers may help to prevent migraines.
Common food items that may trigger migraine include:
- processed foods
4. Avoid Other Triggers
Identify the factors which trigger your migraine. These can be different for different people. Some people may be sensitive to strong lights, bright sunshine, loud noise, or a particular smell. Recognize your trigger and try to avoid them as far as possible.
5. Maintain Proper Hydration
Dehydration or not drinking enough water is a common trigger factor for migraine.
Drinking or sipping water throughout the day and eating a healthy diet is usually sufficient for maintaining proper hydration.
In fact, drinking water early in the morning on an empty stomach should be one of the first activities carried out on waking up.
Read more about 7 Healthy Morning Habits Everyone Should Follow
Besides water other fluids like coconut water, fresh fruit juices, etc may be consumed to keep the body hydrated. Fluids like sweetened tea, artificially sweetened juices, cold drinks, soft drinks, etc should however be avoided.
6. Exercise Regularly
Besides keeping the body fit, regular exercise also releases endorphins which produce a feel-good effect on the mind, prevent the release of stress hormones, and block pain signals to the brain. All these effects prove beneficial in people who are prone to migraines.
Any type of exercise including brisk walking, gym exercises, yoga, aerobics, etc can be included depending upon your preferences. However, one should refrain from over-exerting as it may trigger a migraine.
Yoga, especially, has proved to be beneficial as it helps to improve blood circulation and reduces muscle tension, thus relieving symptoms of migraines.
7. Manage Stress
Stress is a very common trigger for migraines. Stress also creates a vicious cycle where migraine pain adds to the stress, which then again triggers another migraine episode.
Activities that help to manage stress include regular meditation, yoga, music therapy, exercise, etc. Pursuing a hobby like gardening, playing a musical instrument, painting, or even playing with a pet can all contribute to calming the mind and warding off stress.
You can even take the help of a professional to manage stress.
Since some form of stress is an inevitable part of life, stress management helps you to take control of how your body reacts to stressful situations in routine life.
8. Try Alternative Medicine
While it is important to consult your doctor and take the prescribed medicines, you may also try alternative therapies. They may not prove to be effective in all patients but may work for some and hence are worth giving a try.
Regular body massage, acupressure, acupuncture, biofeedback therapy are some of the therapies that can be tried. Behavioral management techniques that include the identification of negative thoughts, relaxation training, and stress management can also be tried.
Acupressure: In this technique, pressure is applied to specific parts of the body. This stimulation to specific body points is thought to release muscle tension and provide pain relief.
Biofeedback therapy: It is used to release and relax tight muscles that might be triggering migraine pain. Sensors are placed on the muscles which give real-time feedback about muscle tension. This allows the patients to relax the tight muscles. This technique takes practice and training.
Acupuncture: Inserting very thin needles through the skin at specific body points has proved to be beneficial in some patients.
Massage: Massaging the muscles in the neck and shoulders can help some patients. It helps to relieve tension in the muscles, reduce migraine pain, and may also reduce stress.
9. Stop Your Normal Activities and Relax
As soon as you realize that you are having a migraine attack, stop doing your routine work.
- Shift to a quiet place or room without any distractions.
- Instruct your family members not to disturb you for a few hours.
- Switch off the room’s lights.
- Close your eyes and try to relax or sleep.
In many cases, relaxing in a calm environment provides significant relief from headaches.
10. Try Temperature Therapy
The application of hot or cold compresses may be helpful in certain cases.
- You can place ice packs on your head or neck. This produces a numbing effect which helps to reduce the pain sensation.
- Hot packs and heating pads or bottles can also be applied to the head or neck region. The warmth thus produced promotes relaxation of tense muscles thereby reducing pain.
- Warm showers or baths may also prove to be helpful because of the similar action of muscle relaxation.
11. Drink a Caffeinated Beverage
Consumed in moderation, caffeine helps to relieve migraine pain in mild cases. It also potentiates the pain-reducing effects of acetaminophen (Tylenol) and other routinely used pain-killers.