Maintaining Healthy Migraine Habits & Consistency During the Holidays
Minimizing your exposure to migraine triggers is as essential during the holiday season as it is during any other time of year. Unfortunately it can be much harder when temptation and problems seem to lurk around every corner between mid-November and early January.
Here are some suggestions of what to focus on to help yourself maintain healthy habits and a consistent routine during the holiday season. It can be hard to do every single one, but just do the best you can. The migraine brain hates change, so anything you can do to minimize change can be helpful.
Maintain a sleep schedule
Going to bed and waking up at the same time every single day is an important component of good headache hygiene. The migraine body does not like change in your sleep patterns, and it doesn't care if it's a weekend or a holiday. Try to maintain consistency as much as possible.
If you'll be away from home, brainstorm what you need to have with you to get good rest. A special pillow, sleeping mask and foam earplugs are all good things to throw in your bag just in case.
Take your meds on schedule
It's so easy to get distracted when you're having fun with family and friends and forget your daily medications. To combat this I set an alarm on my smart phone that alerts me twice daily to take my meds. No matter where I am or what I'm doing, my phone doesn't let me forget.
Dehydration is incredibly problematic for migraineurs. As with so many other healthy habits, it's too easy to forget to drink enough water when you're busy with shopping or parties. Carrying a reusable water bottle around with me helps me get my water in even when I'm busier than usual or distracted.
Get gentle exercise
Exercise can be intimidating for migraineurs, especially those of us whose migraines can be triggered by exertion. But exercise doesn't have to be high impact or jolting if you cannot tolerate that kind of activity. Gentle stretching or yoga can be incredibly helpful in dealing with the stress and tension that settles into our bodies during the pressures of the holiday season.
Moderate or avoid alcohol
Holiday parties, gatherings and dinners often involve alcohol. This is where you need to know your triggers. Is alcohol a trigger for your migraine attacks? Are there certain types you can tolerate, such as vodka, and others you cannot tolerate, such as red wine?
Pay close attention to your triggers and choose wisely. Sometimes you may still choose to indulge in a drink that is a trigger for you, but make a conscious choice and keep the risk and consequences in mind when making that decision.
If peer pressure is a problem, volunteer to be the designated driver to deflect that influence.
Eat balanced meals
When you're eating at a friend or family members' house or going to a party, it can be hard to know what you'll be able to consume. Between the unhealthy holiday / party foods and the need to avoid migraine food triggers, it can quickly become complicated and frustrating.
Eating before you go to a party can be a great strategy. Bringing a dish you can consume to share at a party or dinner is also a great idea as long as it's appropriate for the situation. Maintaining a balanced diet isn't always fun, but can be an important component of a successful migraine management strategy.
What other ideas do you have for maintaining a healthy, consistent routine during the holidays? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
Can you tell when a migraine attack is coming?