Create an Attitude of Gratitude With Migraine

Written by Jessica Puterbaugh | November 22, 2023

With Thanksgiving and the holidays just around the corner, the season of gratitude is underway. For those of us living with chronic illness like migraine, feeling grateful and thankful can sometimes feel like quite a challenge. This is especially true during the busy holiday season. But, keeping gratitude at the top of our minds can do wonders for our mental health and overall physical well-being. Here are 4 simple ways to help you create an attitude of gratitude with migraine this season.

1. Look for the Glimmers

Warm cup of coffee on a cozy autumn morningGlimmers are the little joys we experience each and every day. They are the opposite of triggers. A hot cup of coffee or tea first thing in the morning. Catching a brilliant sunrise or sunset as you wash dishes. The gentle way the falling leaves dance in the wind. These things may be small, but they can add up to a lot. Paying attention to these simple moments of beauty grounds you in the present and helps keep you in a joy-seeking mindset.

2. Start and End Your Day with Gratitude Reminders

Give yourself an extra 30 seconds before you get out of bed each morning to briefly think of three things you are grateful for. They can be big or small. You can use the same ones day after day, or come up with something new. These shouldn’t take more than a few seconds to think of, but starting your day off remembering things you are grateful for sets you up with a positive mindset that can have a ripple effect on your day.

Likewise, as you are going to bed at night, give yourself a few moments of quiet to recount any moments of gratitude you experienced throughout the day. This will calm down your mind, and remind you of the things that carry you through.

3. Try a Gratitude Flow

Take a few minutes in your day to close your eyes, take a few deep breathes, and list off as many things as you can think of to be grateful for. The sound of children laughing. A cozy soft blanket. A sweet pet to cuddle with. A warm house. Your favorite sweater. The abundant beauty in nature this time of the year. Whatever it is, just keep the gratitude list flowing for as long as you can. You might be surprised by the impact this quick exercise has on your mood. And who knows, you may even find yourself smiling!

4. Challenge Yourself to Reframe Your Thoughts

This can be difficult, but with practice you can learn to catch negative thoughts and reframe them in a more positive, grateful way. For example, imagine you had a migraine attack last night and had to cancel plans with friends. A negative thought you may be having is … “I was really looking forward to going out, but once again I’m sick and can’t do what I want to.” This thought is true but, if you can catch and name it then you may be able to reframe it in a more positive light.

For example, you can remind yourself that it’s okay to feel disappointed about missing out on time with your friends. However, this also allowed you to focus on things you CAN do instead. You could say to yourself … “I’m disappointed to miss something I wanted to do, but I’m giving my body the rest and downtime it needs and deserves.” It may help to have a list of things that you enjoy doing at home, such as adult coloring, puzzles, reading, a hot bubble bath, or watching a calming movie in bed.

It’s OK to Not Feel Grateful All the Time

Over time, reframing our negative thoughts can help us feel less stressed. However, as anyone with a chronic illness can attest, it’s not always possible to focus on the good. So when those days happen, it’s important not to blame or shame yourself. It’s OK to spend time curled up in bed waiting for the pain to pass. It’s ok to be frustrated about cancelling something yet again. Then, when you DO feel up to it, give these 4 tips a try and see if they help you in your life’s journey with migraine!

Let us know!

Does staying grateful help you feel better? In what ways do you practice gratitude? And, what are YOU most grateful for this year?

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