Did Mindfulness During a Migraine Attack Help?

Every week, it seems, I have the same conversation with my therapist. I complain that I’m still feeling stuck, unable to do everything I used to be able to do, unable to give myself grace about not being able to do everything I used to be able to do. She tells me to let go of the patriarchal capitalistic system that’s holding me to these unreasonable expectations. I think to myself, easy for you to say, you have a full time job that you — I hope — love. Then she suggests mindfulness.

How have I felt about mindfulness?

I’m not against mindfulness — not at all. My kids, both of whom are neurodivergent and prone to big feelings, have learned some great mindfulness exercises that have helped them through meltdowns, stress, and conflict. I have tried several mindfulness techniques, especially back during the pandemic when I developed a panic disorder. They help!

I’m not great at meditation, though. I’m very prone to rumination and have a hard time being still.

Migraine, though, has other ideas for me.

Was I going to have a productive day?

It was the most perfect “Here Comes the Sun” spring day, the last in a string of sunny days during what we in the Pacific Northwest call the Spring of Deception. What that means is, it’s perfect out — 65-75 degrees, not a cloud in the sky, and the cherry blossoms pop, reaching full bloom, making everything look magical. Tomorrow it was going to rain, but today it was gorgeous. I’d been enjoying the sun the last few days, gardening, taking the dogs on long walks, playing with the kids, and today I needed to get some things done. I had a dog walk planned for myself and then was going to take the laptop outside and bang out some actual work.


How did I feel when I woke up?

I woke up feeling off. My stomach was upset and I felt more exhausted than made sense. I got the kids to school and put myself to bed. An hour later, I woke up to a headache worse than any college hangover. Migraine time. My prescription was almost ready at the pharmacy, so I went to the coffee shop next door, where my friend had texted she would be working for a few hours, and loaded up on caffeine. It didn’t get better. I went and got my meds, went home, and took them. Still painful.

How did I practice mindfulness with a pounding head?

So I had to be mindful. I couldn’t pretend it wasn’t happening. It was too strong. I grabbed my headache hat out of the freezer and took to the deck. I pulled the cold cap over my eyes and lay down on my newly cleaned deck couch. I couldn’t see but I could hear. I heard several kinds of birds chirping in the bright green or blooming trees. I heard the wind rustle the leaves. A squirrel skittered by. I could hear cars in the distance but was mostly surrounded by nature sounds. I tried not to focus on the pounding and instead felt the perfectly temperate air surrounding me, the light breeze cooling me but not giving me a chill. The couch pillows held me up nicely, making it so all I had to do was lie there and be mindful.

Did the mindfulness help my migraine?

I took a deep breath. My headache hat was warm so I took it off and ventured a look at the cerulean sky. I wasn’t completely better. My head still ached dully and my stomach still felt a bit like I was at sea. But my vision had cleared and I could enjoy the yellow green leaves on my favorite tree in the yard, one that, when the leaves come in completely, makes a tambourine noise I find very soothing.

Did the mindfulness help alleviate my symptoms? Or did the medication just kick in after a while? I don’t know for sure, but I do know the mindfulness helped my mood. I’d been frustrated and cranky about missing out on the sunny day and work due to migraine, but I hadn’t missed out at all. I’d gotten to appreciate the gift of the nice day. So, while I was not at all thankful for the migraine, I was thankful for the chance to slow down.

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy.

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.