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Getting Things Done When You’re in Pain

Last updated: November 2022

My to-do list is always longer than there is time in the day.

I’m a working momma and trying to maintain a clean home for the family. Even with “normal” energy, I still wouldn’t get it all done. So, add migraine to the mix, and I feel completely defeated. Really, how can we get motivated to get out of bed and function when we have a migraine, let alone fulfill the many hats we wear? We simply do the best we can each and every day. But here’s the most important step – we reset expectations.

What can you accomplish today?

If we’re constantly expecting ourselves to do more than what is possible, we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment. And if you’re like me, that sends a lot of negative thinking through your already pounding head. What you can accomplish in a day will differ from day to day. So it might be helpful to make this part of your morning routine.

How are you feeling?

Check-in with your body to see how you’re feeling. What’s your level of:

  • Pain?
  • Energy?
  • Emotion/Mood?

What needs to be done?

Next, check in with your to-do’s for the day.

  • What must get done today?
  • What can be delegated?
  • What can be eliminated?
  • What can be postponed?

And of course, some days you may be able to ask yourself, what can you get ahead on? Based on the answers to these questions, you can then set expectations for that day.

I personally like to identify the one thing that is most important to get done, and when possible, I get it done as early as my body will enable me to do so. It’s a big weight off my mind when I know that I accomplished my biggest task for the day.

Can you adjust your plan?

Of course, there are many times that, despite my best planning, the days simply don’t go as planned. I may start with a low level of pain, but it increases as the day goes on. Or I may start off with no pain and then a migraine strikes out of the blue.

In those moments, I have to adjust. This might be a time to revisit those morning questions and change your plans accordingly.

Can you reset and restart?

And for the days (or sometimes weeks!) that seem to go all wrong, I let go of any guilt for “falling behind” with things or trying to push myself too hard, and I simply begin again.

Every moment brings an opportunity to begin again.

Take a couple of deep breaths and decide what is the best next step for you in this moment. Sometimes the answer will be to rest. Other times it will be to focus on your most important task of the day.

As is typical with migraines, there’s no magic formula for every migraine or every migraineur. So, remind yourself that you are doing your best to manage a chronic illness. And most of all, you are not alone in this journey.

Please share your experience and tips below for staying motivated amidst migraine pain.

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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.

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