Tips for getting moving again while dealing with migraine

Before chronic migraines I was very physically active. If I wasn’t giving it my all it wasn’t good enough. With chronic migraines I continued to exercise as much as I could, but slowly my exercise frequency and fitness level dropped. About a year ago I decided I wanted exercise back in my life. So I came up with some tactics to get moving that I want to share in case they can help anyone.

1. Set aside the time.

It can be exhausting to think of adding in exercise to your life when migraines interrupt and delay your plans. The most important thing I found is to set up the habit and start small. It’s not about getting an intense workout, but building the routine of moving your body a few times a week. At the start, you can use the time to simply meditate or stretch until you are ready to do something more active. As I built the habit of caring for my body, I was able to slowly increase my activity level

2. Find something you will enjoy.

Ask yourself what are things that will encourage you to get moving, and what will discourage you? I wanted something that would help me relax that I could do without a lot of money or equipment. I started with walking and restorative yoga. Restorative yoga is a great way to try yoga for the first time. It consists of gentle relaxing poses and breathing so you need not be in shape or flexible to do it. I made sure I looked forward to what I was doing so even on a day I wasn’t feeling my best I would still show up.

3. Tap into community support.

Finding others to talk to will keep you feeling motivated and accountable. When I started to exercise again I joined an internet support group to post about my progress, read about other’s challenges, exchange ideas, and ask questions. It was great to share with people who understood what I was going through. I felt like I was not alone in my journey. It’s also helpful if you are open about your goals with close friends and family. Let those around you know that you are starting a commitment to exercise so they can be part of the process and encourage you.

4. Honor where you are at the moment.

This is probably the most important item. It’s easy to feel bad about setbacks and slowdowns due to living with migraines. I sometimes felt jealous of yoga classmates who are more fit. But as I got to know people in the class better, I found that most had an illness or struggle somewhere along the way. Whether you are a marathon runner or an occasional walker, every time you exercise you build up a stronger foundation for life-long health and wellbeing. Recognizing and honoring your progress and effort can allow you to keep going rather than become discouraged. I also find that sometimes I can push it a little harder than I think!

Exercise has become a stronger part of my life again. I went from gentle walks a year ago to jogging this year. Though exercise certainly isn’t a cure for my migraines, I do feel healthier overall. These strategies really helped me get moving. Please let me know what has worked for you!

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