For many of us, the holiday season is a minefield of migraine triggers. Cold, dry weather. Irregular schedules. Alcohol. Festive foods. And the big S: stress.
How can you avoid migraine attacks while enjoying the season? Here are a few practical tips.
Strategies for Avoiding Holiday Migraines
- Put yourself first. Follow the “oxygen mask rule.” You know the flight attendant always advises passengers to put on their own oxygen mask before helping children or others? The same rule applies to daily life with migraine, especially during the holidays. You must take care of your own needs first, instead of sacrificing your health for loved ones. That means prioritizing your sleep schedule and your headache hygiene over obligations and the expectations of others.
- Steer clear of foods that trigger migraine. Holiday food is notorious for containing common migraine triggers, such as chocolate, cheese, nuts, processed meats, dried fruits and citrus. Even then, it can be hard to resist a big, bountiful holiday spread. Try eating a light meal before any gathering, and if you’re unsure about whether a dish contains a trigger food, just skip it.
- Have a plan for enjoying — or avoiding — alcohol. Red wine, champagne and dark liquors are among the worst culprits for triggering migraine. Stick to lighter drinks, or avoid alcohol altogether. We’re intrigued by these sophisticated mocktails for migraine shared by the Dizzy Cook: the “Fiona on Holiday” Cranberry Ginger Mint Mocktail and a fragrant Apple Cider Mocktail. Be sure to stay hydrated, too.
- Be strict about bedtime. It’s tempting to stay up late to wrap gifts, address cards, bake… But irregular sleep patterns, or not getting enough sleep, can be a serious problem for people with migraine. Do your best to stick to regular times for going to bed and waking. Get more tips for getting a good night’s sleep when you have migraine.
- Embrace JOMO. You’ve heard people talk about FOMO (the fear of missing out). That’s the impulse that drives us to make more commitments than we can really handle, because we don’t want to be left out of something fun or exciting. Let JOMO — the joy of missing out — be the north star for your holiday season. Instead of rushing around to holiday events and gatherings, focus on how great it feels to be cozy at home, with loved ones or pets, just savoring the season.
- Practice stress relief. Many people think stress is something they’re powerless to fight, especially during the hectic holidays. Stress can feel completely overwhelming, like a heavy fog all around you, but it’s actually a physiological response that you can manage with proven relaxation techniques. Find what works for you and remember to practice those methods when holiday stress spikes.
- Let go of guilt. Of course, there’s no JOMO when you’re forced to miss holiday fun because of a migraine attack. Not only are you in pain, but you feel terrible for disappointing your friends and family. Forgive yourself. It’s not your fault. Believe your loved ones when they tell you it’s OK.
- Give yourself the gift of migraine relief. If you’ve had limited success with migraine medications, or if the side effects are just too much, then it’s time to try something new. Now available without a prescription in the U.S., CEFALY DUAL is a non-invasive medical device that’s clinically proven to prevent migraine attacks and reduce migraine pain. Worn on the forehead, it sends tiny electrical impulses through a self-adhesive electrode to stimulate and desensitize the trigeminal nerve, reducing the frequency and intensity of migraine attacks.