Managing Acute Pain: Building a Migraine Comfort Plan
We’ve all had those moments. You’re going about your day when suddenly that all too familiar pain starts building as a migraine attack shows up, hell-bent on taking over. The anxiety and stress about what is to come creeps in. Often, the first step in controlling the pain is keeping calm, which is easier said than done! For times like these, it may be helpful to create a migraine comfort plan so you can be prepared and have everything you need close by in order to help you get through an attack. Here are some ideas to add to your plan:
Building a Migraine Comfort Plan:
Put together a migraine bag.
Keep migraine-treatment items in one place so that during an attack everything you need is at your fingertips, and you don’t have to waste precious time and energy searching to find them. Some items may include:
- Migraine devices
- Light filtering glasses
- Heat/ice packs
- Weighted or comfy blanket
- Green light lamps
- Lightweight, comfortable clothes
- Essential oils (if those help you)
- Doctor/urgent care/pharmacy phone numbers
Create a migraine sanctuary.
A quiet, dark place can offer great comfort during an attack. A room where you can control the noise, light and temperature is ideal. Identify a place where you can create an environment conducive to rest and include items such as:
- Blackout curtains or shades
- White noise machine
- Soft, comfortable blankets and pillows
- Fan or heater
Enlist help BEFORE you need it.
Thinking ahead about what you may need help with during an attack can ease anxiety when one comes on. This is especially important if you are a parent or caregiver. Will your children need to be picked up from school? Can you have a babysitter, friend of family come over to help out? What will you do if you need a ride? If you are employed, who do you need to call to notify? Make a list of the things that must happen every day and come up with a plan for how you can get the help you’ll need before it’s an emergency situation.
Keep an arsenal of kid-friendly activities.
If you’re a parent, it can be helpful to have some easy ideas ready to occupy kids, especially young children. Compile some quiet-activity items such as coloring books, puzzles, movies, or a special collection of toys that they don’t normally get to play with and pull them out when you’re not feeling well. This not only helps keep kids busy, but it can also help them to more positively frame your pain.
Find your calm.
Staying calm as pain intensifies is difficult but so important. Keep a list of calming rituals and techniques to try during an attack. These include:
- Soft music
- Easy watching movies
- Creative activities such as adult painting/coloring
- Printed, digital or audio books
- Meditation (Consider using guided-meditation apps like Calm or Unwinding Anxiety) Headspace)
- Visualization or guided imagery pain management techniques (Check out the Curable and Headspace apps)
- Warm bath or shower
- Light stretching exercises or a slow walk if you’re able
No one feels like cooking when they’re not feeling well, but skipping meals can make pain worse. Also, if you’re a parent or caregiver, you’ll need simple food options on hand. Make a list of comforting, healthy foods you can tolerate and easily prepare or heat up during an attack, and make sure to always have them on hand. If you cook regularly, consider doubling the recipe and freezing some for an easy go-to. Some quick meal ideas include:
- Broth or soup
- Cheese and crackers
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
A migraine attack can be very dehydrating, especially if you are vomiting. Keep clear liquids like water, Gatorade, or Pedialyte on hand. If you find it difficult to keep fluids down, you may need an anti-nausea medication or ginger to help.
Remember: Preparing for comfort can help calm and soothe you at times when a migraine attack is imminent.
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