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Rest is important even when you’re not feeling ill

This comment may ruffle some feathers, but I want to say it anyway, because it’s true: sometimes I am grateful for a migraine episode because it makes me slow down and forces me to relax.  I’m not saying I ever wish for an episode or that I would ever trade in a healthy day for one with migraine.  I’m not saying I am grateful for the really bad days, either—it’s just those middle-of-the-road attacks that sometimes have the added benefit of taking me out of the work world and into the relaxation world.

Most of my attacks can be treated relatively quickly and easily with medication, thankfully.  I tend to be able to work on most of my migraine days, even if I have to take an hour or two off while I wait for the meds to kick in.  Once in awhile—I’d say about ten percent of the time—I have attacks that are debilitating enough that I take the day off but not so debilitating that I’m rendered totally immobile and in unbearable pain.

These are the times I try to find the silver lining, and usually I succeed.

I’m a lucky migraineur in that I can read and watch TV during all but my most terrible attacks.  I’m also really fortunate in that I make my own work schedule and have a reliable, empathetic team of employees to call on if I can’t fulfill all my bookshop commitments.

This means that, in many cases, I can take part or all of a day off when I really need to.  Being able to read and relax and watch bad TV and doze off here and there feels like a luxury, but really it’s a necessity.

And you know what? It’s something I need to take the time to do when I’m NOT sick.

Typically, if I’m feeling good (either with no migraine or a really low-grade migraine), I feel an intense and perhaps obsessive need to check things off my to-do list.  Before I owned a business, I had a lot more downtime: more time to read, more time to spend with friends, more time to just stare into space or make pictures out of clouds.  But now, between my business and my freelance gigs, I feel like I haven’t earned the right to relax just yet, or that even if I tried to relax I would be too distracted by my to-do list to be able to have a day or afternoon off.

I know that this is not logical. I know it is of supreme importance to take time off from work and errands and to put your feet up and have time to relax.  I am taking steps to incorporate relaxation time into my weekly schedule.  Resting is important even when you aren’t feeling ill, and resting can help you keep stress levels under control—and we know that keeping stress levels as low as possible can help us all manage migraines.

How about you? Do you try to find time to relax even when you are feeling healthy?  Are you able to relax a little when you stay home sick with migraine? Let us hear some of your tips for relaxing without having your to-do list threaten your peace! 

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • Vera Dora
    4 years ago

    I have a very demanding job. I’m the Accounting Supervisor. I found that my attacks forced me to leave the work world and be in my own world of suffering pain and relaxation. No noise, no light, just laying there waiting to fall asleep with a hot water bottle and an ice-pack for alternating relief on the side of my head, hoping that when I wake upthe pain will be gone. When it gets unbearable I take a tevasumatriptan. During these attacks, I end up sleeping 12 – 20 hours!! Before the attacks, I may only get 5 or 6 hours sleep at night. I discovered that I have a sleeping disorder (diagnosed by my neurologist) which is a major trigger for migraine. I am still learning so much about migraine. I do know that regular sleep is very very important.

  • Star71
    4 years ago

    I’m a mom of a high-schooler who is always on the go and an almost 4 yr.old…
    PLUS I work almost FT…
    I have no sick/vacation days at my job, so I don’t have the luxury of calling in when I have a migraine, which is EVERYDAY… I’m a daily, chronic sufferer… :0(
    Unfortunately, I don’t know the meaning of the word rest until later at night…
    Heck, I can’t even make time to get to my doctor for new symptoms that have popped up…

  • Heather Benton
    4 years ago

    I rest everyday of my life! I have been on LTD for 9 years, I was all of 34 when my husband said ‘this is craziness, you don’t sleep, you work all day, come home and you can’t function or get out of bed’! I had/have some form of migraine everyday, it’s just depends if I can function through some of it or not. I also have Fibro and CFS, so when I say I rest, it means more like I can hardly get out of bed.
    As for being able to read, watch TV, or get anything done…not with a good migraine. People still always are still saying things like ‘you are always in bed’ or from my dear old dad ”GD it you get a lot of migraines, don’t know why, you just need to get outside more” ! I have had them since I was 12….
    My own family, is great! My husband is a God send, he has to do so much, as most everyday things are just to much for me. It is hard, I carry a lot of quilt by times, missing out on so much in life. However, I KNOW when I need rest, and that is what I have been dealt…I minded people that migraine is a real. I didn’t choose this, who wouls

  • deborahvan-der-harst
    4 years ago

    Hi Janet, I take time to relax on non-migraine days by meditating which helps me keep my anxiety under control. I make sure to eat 3 healthy meals on those days because on migraine days I can only tolerate Saltines and ginger ale. I take a nap even on good days. I realize more and more how important it is to take advantage of good days, and try to do something that brings me absolute delight. Like most everyone, I try not to tackle a huge to do list. The anxiety and over activity can cause a month long migraine. Finding that balance is key. I’ve had migraines since November 2009, since age 46, and am still learning how much I can play, and how I need to rest. I wish these migraine years didn’t go by so fast. I’d like for them to become much less frequent, so that I can get my health and fitness back as quickly as possible. I don’t want to keep getting older and sicker.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    Deborah,

    Thank you for this smart and thoughtful feedback. I especially appreciate the tip about making sure to take care of oneself (including three full meals) on the healthy days–I am guilty of not doing that–some days I feel so good I just keep rolling with the day, not bothering to take better care of myself. I hope you are feeling good today, and thanks for being a part of this community.

    Sincerely,
    Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

  • Leynal
    4 years ago

    @deborahvan-der-harst
    I am the same way- when it comes to bad migraine days and only being able to eat something very bland like Saltines (and I love sparkling water).
    Great that you meditate!
    I am a big napper these days, as the migraines and/or the medication I’m on causes me major fatigue, which can be almost the worst symptom.
    Leyna

  • Sarah
    4 years ago

    After missing a lot of work the last couple of months as my doctor and I discover answers to the migraine attacks (a few is better than none in my book), I’ve gotten to the point with my meds that most are under control and I can work through. I have yet to work a full week of work in recent weeks, but I’m taking it slow returning to a full 40 hour week, mostly by taking 3 day weekends. Then…I can tackle things on my to-do list over 3 instead of 2 days and be as “lazy” as I want the rest of the time. I tend to keep my list as short as possible…usually cleaning the kitchen and bathroom are top priority, as well as coming up with one meal that I can freeze and reheat for a while. I have my quilting set-up rigged so that I can sit (when I usually stand) and work, and that has helped a TON.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    f3dmxf,

    It sounds as if you are really taking some important steps to reduce the impact migraine has on your life. Kudos–I feel so hopeful for you and proud of your lifestyle changes and the time you took to arrange your work (and errand, and rest) schedule.

    Take care; let us know how you’re doing.

    -Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

  • Sarah
    4 years ago

    Haha. I meant a few answers…not attacks. Oops.

  • Anne
    4 years ago

    I have to push through most days I have an attack as I can’t afford any more sick days from work. When I do stay home with an attack, all I do is take my medication and sleep in the dark. I usually stay in bed for about 7 hours and am then able to eat and watch some TV. It’s hard to rest on the days when I feel well because I always feel like I have lost so much time already to attacks.

  • gary
    4 years ago

    I own my own Biz and have to apply for disability my customers cabt wait for me to get my footing [ I do understand] Hopefully ssdi will also as many mefs as I am on it is almost impossible to get anything done. ugh!

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    Best of luck to you–I know it’s a tough road!

    -Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    Annequin-Harkin,

    That sounds so rough. Have you talked to a migraine or headache specialist about the severe impact this illness is having on your life? I hate to think of your suffering. And I feel you re. feeling like you’ve “lost so much time already due to attacks.” It makes it hard for me to relax during the healthy times, as I want to make up for lost time, time stolen by migraine.

    Take care; let us know how you’re doing!

    -Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

  • Carolyn
    4 years ago

    This is why I love this site. Thanks for addressing something I’ve been actively dealing with so much lately! It’s great to feel that I’m not alone. I, too, am a very list-oriented person who has a hard time “justifying” relaxing, even when I need to.

    Lately, I’ve been trying to think of rest as a type of medicine I need to take at regular intervals, in reasonable and appropriate doses. This fits really well with my task-oriented sort of mindset, and makes it much easier for me to just do it, rather than feeling like perhaps I should do more stuff before I rest.

    If I’ve been working for a couple hours and feel like I should take a break, but I don’t want to, or I simply don’t feel relaxed enough to enjoy anything, I set a mini-goal to do something that will make me feel accomplished, but is also restful or relaxing. Lately, for me, that’s been meditating. So, I “trick” my goal-oriented mind into taking a break, AND I get to write something on my to-do list, and then cross it off. Triple bonus!

    If I’m really being a stinker to myself about my to-do list, I write it in tiny chunks. I’ll pick no more than say, an hour’s worth of stuff to do and write that down. Once I do those things and cross them off, I look at my list. I see several crossed-off items, and a blank space at the bottom with nothing yet added to it. Phew, so far so good, I think. I take a break, and THEN add more items to the list. It’s much easier for me to prioritize this way on days when I’m really overwhelmed, and it’s easier to take a break when there isn’t a whole visual list of things in front of me (there’s no way my list isn’t always floating around in my head, anyway, so realistically, nothing too important will be forgotten!)

    I hope you are feeling healthy today, AND you find some time to relax soon. =)

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    Carolyn,

    I apologize for the delayed reply. I want to thank you for the very smart and thoughtful note you left on my article a couple of weeks ago. You are one clever cookie! I am taking your tips to heart and hope you’ll check in again soon and let me know how things are going.

    -Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

  • Jenn Lebowitz
    4 years ago

    Wow, thanks so much for sharing, Carolyn! Love hearing your ideas about how you handle to-do lists and rests. Thanks so much for being part of the community! We’re glad you’re here.

    Best,

    Jenn (Community Manager, Migraine.com)

  • Lisa Robin Benson moderator
    4 years ago

    Janet, I was so thinking this the other day! I was exhausted but still planning on pushing myself after work and going to a yoga class, when I knew it would probably be too much. Then I get a migraine on my way home, and it forced me to stay home and get the rest I need (luckily it wasn’t at the pain level in which resting is impossible). I probably should give myself rest when I am that tired, even if I don’t get a migraine. Great post with another “hidden silver lining”!
    -Lisa

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    Thanks, girl!

  • Tish
    4 years ago

    Tishyann

  • Carolyn
    4 years ago

    Tish, I’m 28, and a 3 and a half hour drive into the desert would knock me on my butt, too. Major triggers! Much less doing anything while there, or getting back! Kudos to you.

    I’m sorry to hear you’ve been having a rough couple of weeks. Hang in there, I hope it eases up some soon.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    Dear Tish,

    This is a very belated thank you for this kind comment. This last week has been tough again, but I did have a break of a couple weeks where things were much better. The ebb and flow is a little hard to take, but I’m a trooper!

    Take care, and thanks again.

    -Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

  • Tish
    4 years ago

    I sometimes, have to agree with you. Though I am much, much older,☺️,I am disabled, but still relatively active. Soo, yes, there are times when I welcome a bit of a rest. It does sound funny for my situation especially. I do have on an everyday sort, not the kind of schedule that you, as younger people deal with, but as you grow older, for the most part, though we don’t want admit it, we cannot keep up the way we used to.

    Example; last week we had to take a three and a half hr. drive into the desert to look at some property we are thinking of selling. An all day affair, and very, very hot! Trigger alert! And yes, I came home with a migraine, but the first couple of days I could not baby it. Mine, on the average, can last, on average 1 day-2weeks. I cannot take Imitrex, because of heart disease so I take other meds.

    I had some pressing things I had to deal with the first couple of days after we came home, more heat! We also live in the Desert! More triggers making matters worse! I could not lie down no matter how much I wanted to! Finally, I was able to lay down and things started to smooth out. This one is still hanging on and it’s going on two weeks now!! I’m sleeping at the most, 4hrs a night, and am so very tired.

    Migraines for me, have brought on a whole different view of the world! It seems at times to be in a continual haze brought on by the pain.

    We all have found different ways to deal with the pain and if you find a bit of relief in the time you have! More power to you! Do not apologize! God bless you!

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