Navigating the Holiday Season with Migraine

Tis the season for holiday cheer… and migraine attacks.

Let’s face it, it’s not easy managing migraine any time of year, but it can be especially hard during the holidays when you want to join in on all the holiday fun – the parties, concerts, parades and so much more.

How does migraine get in the way of holidays?

But every time you put an event on your calendar, that little voice creeps in saying “What are the chances of you actually going to this? Migraine will likely ruin this one too!” And unfortunately, the added stress of the holiday season can even increase our susceptibility to a migraine attack.

How can I adapt?

Having lived with migraine since childhood, I know the reality of this firsthand. But I also refuse to just “give up” on the holiday season. What I choose to do is find a way to adapt that factors migraine into the picture.

Tip #1

Recommit to healthy habits. Personally, this is motivation for me to recommit to the health habits that can support me in managing migraine. For example, I know when I’m eating well and staying well hydrated, I simply feel better in my body. My energy is better. My mood is better. My physical body just feels better overall. Is food or water a “cure” for migraine? I wish! Unfortunately, this is no cure for this neurological condition.

However, what I’m looking for here, is simply the opportunity to feel better in my body, and if that happens to reduce the frequency or intensity of migraine, that’s 100% worth it in my opinion.

Tip #2

Prioritize sleep. I consider sleep as part of my healthy habits, but I want to call it out separately here, but I put that much emphasis on it during the holiday season.

It’s a busy time of year and it feels like the stimulation to our nervous system is everywhere. The music, lights, traffic, and crowds can all prompt us to feel a little more exhausted than normal. So even though I know that quality and consistent sleep is important everyday living with migraine, I find that it’s especially important during the holiday season.

Tip #3

Plan accordingly. This is also a time of year when I have to be mindful of my schedule. As I shared, just the extra stimulation at this time of can be exhausting, so I need to lighten my schedule as best that I can. This means doing online shopping instead of running around the malls and shopping centers.

It also may mean saying no to commitments that I would be able to do at another time of year, but not now.

It also means that I give myself permission to let some things go that I would others prioritize. Something as simple as the cleaning may have to be simplified down to the basics, so I have even just a little extra energy in the reserves.

How do I manage attacks when they come?

And last but not least, we all know that despite our best intentions and effort, migraine can still ruin our plans.

My recovery plan for this, is to communicate any changes that I need to make to my schedule, especially declining a holiday gathering. I resist my tendency to overexplain or justify – I’m still a work in progress here.

And then I do what I can to make myself comfortable. If I’m lucky enough to be able to tolerate TV, I’ll grab a cold ice pack from the freezer and curl up on the couch with a holiday movie. Otherwise, I take that ice pack to bed with me and know that I’m doing what I need to do to take care of myself right now.

What do you find helpful to navigate the holiday seasons with migraine? Would you share your experience in the comments below so we can learn from you too?

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

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.

Join the conversation

Please read our rules before commenting.