Life with Migraine During the Holidays

The holiday season is a busy time of year for most, however when you have a chronic condition, the holidays can be a bit more stressful.  In a recent survey, 112 of our community members shared their thoughts on facing the holiday season with migraine.

96% of respondents said that their migraine pain and symptoms get worse due to the stress and extra activity of the holiday season. Unfortunately, the worry of a potential migraine attack during a special occasion can be a stressor in itself.

The everyday tasks that often take place in a home can ramp up during the season, as well. 62% of survey respondents struggle with cleaning their house and 46% with cleaning up after an event or party.  Beyond cleaning, cooking or baking is a challenge for 54%, and holiday decorating for 40% (Only 1 in 4 (26%) hire outside help for assistance with these types of activities)

The physical effort of gift shopping is a struggle for 55% and food/grocery shopping is a struggle for 38%.  Of those noting gift shopping a struggle, 94% shop for gifts online. Although gift wrapping was also cited as an issue for 30% of respondents, few of these individuals (18%) used a gift wrap service. Beyond the physical limitations with shopping for gifts, 63% of individuals noted that it was a challenge to manage expenses.  Many people work extra hours or a job to supplement their income this time of year (44%).

Although most individuals do delegate tasks to their family members to an extent (78%), 3/4 feel their friends and family resent at some level that that they are unable to fully participate in the holidays. 34% of individuals said that their friends and family did not offer to help more than usual during the holidays, despite the increased level of activity and stress.

Several of those surveyed recommended that their fellow migraine sufferers keep on their normal medication and sleep routine during the holidays.  96% of individuals reported they will try to rest or nap when they can this holiday season and more than half (58%) are sure to not change their medication regimen. Not being able to get enough rest was reported as a challenge for 71%, fortunately most will make time to pamper themselves this time of year (78%).

It’s common for people to feel the extra stress and pressure that accompanies the flurry of activity and/or feelings that come up during the holiday season. Therefore, it’s crucial to take time to decompress regularly throughout such a busy and emotional time – especially when dealing with the additional challenge that migraine can bring. This survey is a good reminder to give oneself that extra bit of space to relax, or to make things a bit easier in any way one can – for example, shopping for gifts at stores that wrap gifts for free, or buying pre-made or pre-cut ingredients for cooking and baking. Keeping these kinds of ideas in mind, we hope you can be gentle towards yourself, in addition to all the care you show to others this holiday season!

Thanks to everyone who participated in the “Handling the Holidays” survey! The online survey gathered insights from 112 migraine sufferers, of which 95% celebrated at least 3 holidays this time of year.  Most respondents were female (96%), with an average age of 45.  80% of individuals surveyed were diagnosed with migraine more than 5 years ago and only 2% within the past year.  Among those surveyed, 63% were married or in a committed relationship and 71% had children.  Of those with children, half had children under the age of 18.

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