Ten Self-Care Tips for Back-to-School Time

August is almost over, which means many of us are preparing for back-to-school time. Here are some tips migraineurs can use to help ease the transition into earlier mornings and more hectic afternoons.

If you’re going back to school

  1. Stock up on high-protein, easily portable snacks, like almonds, tuna, flax seeds, walnuts, mozzarella cheese sticks, yogurt, and/or granola. Added tip: If foods are a trigger for you, make sure to stay away from fermented foods, aged cheeses, and cured meats. Generally, the longer a high-protein food ages, the higher the tyramine content, which means more migraines for you.
  2. Try to schedule your classes around your ideal schedule. If you know you function best when you wake up at 7 a.m., take a nap around 2 p.m., and go to bed around 10 p.m., consider scheduling two of your classes in the mid-morning and two more in the late afternoon and/or early evening. If that isn’t possible, see tip #3.
  3. Change your daily routine as slowly as possible. If you know you’re going to have to start getting up at 7 a.m. and you’ve been sleeping until 9 or 10 every morning, begin setting your alarm for 8:45 or 9:45 a.m. now. Every three days or so, adjust your wake-up time another 15 minutes earlier until you reach the time you’ll need to get up for school. Ideally, you’d have at least three days to get used to this wake-up time before attending class. If you don’t have enough time for this adjustment schedule, try waking 15 minutes earlier every day until you reach your new wake-up time.
  4. Invest in a good lunch bag and BPA-free containers. Eating good meals at the right time is critical for migraineurs. The easiest way to make sure you have the foods you need when you need them is to bring them with you. (It’s also nearly always more cost effective than eating out!)
  5. Plan ahead. Fresh salads and fruits, soups, and sandwiches all make easy, portable lunches. Consider your weekly meal choices before heading to the grocery store, and make sure you have lunch items on hand. If you’re going to cook anything, consider cooking Sunday evening, so everything’s ready to go during the week.

If your children are going back to school

  1. Start prepping now.Summer triggers are still at their peak, and the last thing you want to do is to cram all of your back-to-school shopping into one or two days in 90-100 degree weather. Schedule trips for supplies and clothing several days apart and try to take advantage of early morning or late evening hours, when the weather is cooler and there are less people (and therefore less potential for smell and noise triggers). You might also want to consider purchasing some items online.
  2. Make a weekly or monthly meal plan. Once school starts, you’ll probably be rushing to and from work, school, after-school activities, and weekend events on a near constant basis. One of the easiest ways to keep on top of your health is to control your food. A weekly or monthly meal plan enables you to make sure you have good quality (trigger-free) food on hand whenever you need it. It also takes away much of the stress of trying to figure out what you’re going to cook each night.
  3. Assign school-time chores, if your children are old enough. Many of us assign our children chores during the summer, but we often let those chores slide once school starts up, homework begins, and after-school activities eat up the afternoons. Requiring your children to carry some of the household workload, however, is essential to your well being. (Remember: You’re going to be doing a lot more, too!) If you worry they’re going to be doing too much, lighten the load a little either by cutting out certain tasks or by scheduling some tasks on a less frequent basis.
  4. Schedule time for exercise you enjoy.Exercise can be a potent migraine preventative, but it’s easy to stop working out once our children’s extracurriculars take up much of our time. Whether it’s a three-times-a-week yoga class, a morning walk, or an evening spin class, find something you like to do and do it. No matter what.
  5. Prioritize yourself. When school is in session, the demands on our time seem endless. Field trips, parent-teacher meetings, fundraising events, sports practices, tournaments, and sleepovers can easily fill our time if we let them. Doing so, however, leaves us less time to rest, rejuvenate, and de-stress (all things that are essential to managing our migraines.) Know when to say “no.”

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