A man tells a funny story to people sitting at a table with him while people dance, drink, and ride a mechanical bull in the background.

Surviving the Bar Scene as a Migraineur

If I’m being honest, the bar scene was never my scene, but it was for many of my friends. And the truth is, I didn’t want to feel left out on St. Patrick's day, and I did enjoy the festivities. So, I had to figure out how to navigate the bar scene.

Why is the bar scene hard for me?

First, let’s call it what it is – bars can be loud, crowded, hot, and smelly. Any one of these elements is enough to trigger a migraine, so the combination can be brutal. However, it doesn’t mean that you have to decline every social event. You certainly can, if that’s your preference, but if you’d like, there are some ways to support you with an occasional RSVP, yes!

How do I navigate around my migraine attacks?

First things first, know where you are with your current migraine attacks. If I’m in a cycle of bad migraines, I do everything possible to minimize and eliminate any additional triggers. After all, we know that the more migraines we get, the more likely we are to get another.

So, if I’m in a cycle of bad migraines, I’m staying home with Netflix and green juice and passing on the Erin Express Bar Crawl. But if I’ve been feeling decent, then I want to start stacking the odds in my favor even further. Leading up to a social event, I want to be extra mindful of getting good sleep and eating well.

How do I prepare ahead of going out?

I also want to make sure that I’m staying well-hydrated. This is a given whether you’re drinking alcohol or not, but definitely if you are having any adult beverages, get well-hydrated the day or two before an event.

To set myself up for success the day of, I want to make sure that I’m doing whatever habits help me to feel best. For me, that means doing some type of exercise in the morning – depending upon my energy. It could be a yoga practice, walking outside, or strength training at the local gym.

It’s also important that I have a substantial breakfast and take my supplements and/or medication. I try to have some downtime right before I go out just to fill my tank a bit.

How do I manage when I'm out at a bar?

Once I’m out, I remind myself to stay true to myself and what my body needs. If I don’t want to drink because I want to reduce one more possible trigger, then I’ll order a soda in a rocks glass, so I have a beverage in my hand but one that I feel better consuming. If I do have an alcohol beverage, I make sure to have a big glass of water afterward.

And I always have an “escape plan.” I could use this for a variety of reasons. Maybe I’m just ready to go home, my friends often stay out much longer and later than I enjoy, so I will often drive myself, so I can leave when I want. I also make sure that I have any migraine medication in my purse so that if I get the slightest hint of a migraine coming on, I will take my medicine and say my goodbyes. I don’t announce that I’m leaving because of a migraine. I simply say goodbye and leave. You may have some friends who are disappointed that you’re leaving early, but you have to keep in mind that they’re not looking at it through the lens of a migraine. They’re in the moment, having fun, and they enjoy your company. Hold true to what you know you need to do for your health and share that you had fun, but you have to go. Personally, I like to make my exit short and sweet. I don’t want to overexplain or drag it out. Once I’ve decided to leave, I want to be on my way home.

There’s obviously no rule book when it comes to navigating the social scene as a migraineur, these are simply some of the steps that have helped me. I’m curious to know, what helps you? Share below so we can learn from you too!

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