Migraine Attacks And The Holidays – Three Steps To Manage Both

Written by Lorene Alba | December 12, 2022

Do your migraine attacks increase in severity or frequency during the holidays? If so, you’re not alone. Changes in daily routines, the environment, and additional stress may trigger or worsen migraine attacks. Below are three action steps to help you better manage migraine triggers and the holidays:

1. Consume healthy foods and beverages.

Consume healthy foods and beverages. The busy holiday schedule often leaves us with no time to eat well or even remember to eat at all. At this time of year, gatherings tend to have more migraine-triggering foods, such as chocolate, cheese, and alcohol. The key here is to plan ahead.

  • When traveling or out shopping, bring migraine-friendly snacks with you.
  • When attending gatherings, offer to bring a dish that you know is safe for you to enjoy. Or, eat before you go to a party so you won’t be tempted to eat foods that may trigger your migraine attacks.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and avoiding alcohol. Sip sparkling water, ask for a non-alcoholic drink, or bring your own drinks.
  • If you do drink alcohol, have one glass of water with each cocktail to avoid dehydration.

2. Make time for yourself.

We always talk about self-care these days, but who has time to do it during the holidays? And sometimes, we feel embarrassed when focusing on self-care around others, but it’s so important not to let this slip. Finding time for ourselves is always challenging, but it doesn’t need to be complicated or time-consuming.

  • Add “me time” breaks to your to-do list. A scheduled break may include soaking in a hot bath, listening to music, taking a short walk, or working on your favorite hobby.
  • After shopping or running errands, or even in the middle of running errands, plan to spend a few minutes enjoying your favorite beverage on a quiet bench or in your car.
  • If you feel stressed, concentrate on your breathing by taking a few deep breaths in and out.
  • It is always okay to leave a crowded, loud, or bright space when needed – again, don’t be embarrassed to do what is best for you!
  • During gatherings, ask the host if you can spend a few minutes in another room to avoid or manage a migraine attack.

3. Take medications and other migraine treatments as directed and as needed.

Instead of taking treatment options as prescribed, people with migraine often try to “save” their meds, so they have extra during holidays or vacations. Some may even feel embarrassed about taking medications or using a medical device in front of other people. However, it’s essential to make sure that you treat your migraine attacks as directed and as needed.

  • Be aware that saving your medications can be a double-edged sword. Having extra medication for when you need it most may give you peace of mind and ensure you are prepared for a migraine attack. It is possible, however, to get stuck in an attack that you can’t get out of if you don’t take your medicine as prescribed and early in an attack.
  • Make sure you have enough medications needed to get you through your planned activities, especially if you are traveling. This includes both preventive and abortive treatment options, as well as any medicines you need for other conditions.
  • If you are concerned, you don’t have enough medication, or if your attacks are not always controllable, talk with your doctor about your abortive treatment plan. There may be other options they can prescribe for you to have in your “toolbox” that will help you stay out of the ER or urgent care and enable you to enjoy the holidays better! Check out our Migraine Treatment Toolbox to learn more.
  • Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to treat your migraine attacks even when you are around other people. This is not only important for your own self-care but can be a fantastic opportunity to share with others about migraine and how it impacts peoples’ lives!

So remember: if your migraine attacks increase in severity or frequency during the holidays, or if you are anxious about managing your migraine at this time of year, you are not alone! Keep these three action steps in mind and take the time you need to care for yourself during the next few weeks so that your holidays can be a time of treasured memories with your loved ones!

Let Us Know

Do you find your migraine more challenging to manage during the holidays? Is it embarrassing for you to take a medication or use a migraine device when you are around other people? What are some of the tips that you can share which help you thrive during the holidays?

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