A person sitting on their home office couch rubbing their neck.

Making My Home Office More Migraine Friendly

I’ve been working from home as a freelance writer as my main profession for a few years now. I don’t work full time because of my kids, mainly, but also because of my migraines.

How does migraine impact my career?

I simply can’t have a job where I sit in front of a screen all day. I get auras and start to feel a fog setting in if I type for too long. Then, no more thoughts from me! I have to take the rest of the day off or, at least, take a long dog walk.

Why is it hard to work at night?

If I work at night, the contrast between a screen and darkness is an aura trigger of mine. Turning on a bright task light always gave me a headache, too, so I had a hard time finding a happy medium. Plus, I was often tired or burned out from parenting at night. I prefer to work during work hours whenever possible, but would like the option to have a nice, cozy space to work at night if inspiration strikes.

How have I adjusted my set up?

Even with many breaks built in, I was still getting frequent migraines triggered by staring at a screen. I turned down the brightness on my computer and have blue light filters on my glasses. I wondered if part of the problem was my set-up. I made the text bigger on the screen. Still had some problems. I tried to sit at a desk instead of slumping on the couch. Not much better.

What did I learn from "tech neck"?

Then, after writing an article on “tech neck,” and after a comment from my new neurologist about how a headache that is technically caused by muscle tension can turn into a migraine for someone susceptible, I decided to follow the advice of the expert I spoke to for the “tech neck” article and create a dedicated workspace in my house. I had a desk and I was going to use it.

What does my work space consist of?

I went to my local “Buy Nothing” group and found a keyboard, laptop stand, footstool, and chair. This allowed me to sit in an upright and locked position with my spine in alignment throughout the course of a writing session. The chair isn’t as cute as the vintage one I was using, but it’s far more comfortable.

I also put soft bedroom lighting in my office. The room has ugly sconces which give off a white, dim light. It wasn’t helping my headaches. The natural light in the room is minimal due to that part of the house being in perpetual shade. The warm light behind the computer screen helps cut down on the fatigue from the brightness, especially at night.

Has my new set up helped?

I have been in my new set up for a while now and haven’t had to stop working to take rescue medications yet. I’m hopeful the modifications I made to be more ergonomic and the lighting changes to reduce triggers have helped. Plus, having a dedicated space that makes me feel productive helps me work when I’m working and stop when I’m done, thereby making me more efficient and spending less time on the computer overall.

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