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Migraine Life Hacks: Dealing Better with Migraines

MigraineLifeHacks Diana Lee has chosen a great topic for the March, 2011, Migraine blog carnival, "Life Hacks: Tweaking Work & Life to Deal with Migraines." Over the years, I've written several articles about various aspects of this topic. It's really one of my favorite topics because it's one way we can actually exercise control over this darned disease.

It so often seems that Migraine disease controls us. Too often, it does, BUT if there's one good thing about this disease, it's that there are indeed things we can do to control our lives that in some cases help control the disease. Even those that don't control the disease, can make it easier to live with the disease by our taking better control of our own lives.

So, let's get down to taking a look at some "live hacks" that can make it easier to live with Migraines. These fall into two categories, those related to Migraine triggers and those not directly related to triggers.

life hacks elated to triggers:

  • Trigger identification and management is an essential part of Migraine management. Some triggers are avoidable, some are not. One we know what our triggers are, we can avoid some Migraines if we find that we have any avoidable triggers. If our triggers aren't avoidable, knowing what they are won't help us avoid Migraines, but it can at least help us be better prepared for them.
  • If you're tyring to identify your triggers, keeping a Migraine diary can be extremely helpful. You can find more information and download a free diary workbook in Your Migraine and Headache Diary.
  • For some lucky people, many Migraines can be avoided by avoiding certain foods or beverages. Is that you? Do you know if any foods or beverages are triggers for you? You can learn more and download a free work book in Managing Migraine - Migraine Trigger Foods.
  • Are loud music and crowded clubs a trigger for you? Ask your friends to spend an evening with you at home where you can have quieter music and a less crowded environment.
  • Is alcohol a trigger? Club soda with a twist of lime tastes great, especially when it means you won't have a Migraine!
  • MSG a trigger? Then you know you can't order Chinese take-out unless it can be ordered without MSG. You know you can't eat that bag or Doritos. Which is more important? Eating the junk or feeling well? You decide.
  • Messed up sleep. Too much, too little, disrupted, and poor quality sleep can all be Migraine triggers. If they're a problem for you, then you know you're going to pay for it if you don't pay attention to your sleep. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

life hacks not directly related to triggers:
These are mostly organizational suggestions that can make things much easier when you live with Migraines:

  • Keep your prescriptions filled so you don't run out of medications.
  • Shop ahead. Make a short list of things that you really need to have in the house when you don't feel well. Make sure you're always well stocked on these items. It's helpful if they're items that can be kept - canned or frozen, for example.
  • Cook ahead. When you cook a good, healthy meal, think about doubling the recipe and freezing an extra meal. It will come in handy when you're in a hurry or when you don't feel well.
  • Whatever you can plan ahead or do ahead, do it. When we do this, we give ourselves huge breaks. It's such great feeling when events are planned ahead, when holiday shopping is done well in advance.
  • Dump the guilt. Nobody is perfect. If you miss an event or a few details, the world is not coming to an end.
  • Be realistic. This is one of the biggest favors any of us can do ourselves. Be realistic in our expectations of ourselves and others. Look at the overall picture and don't let small details ruin things.

In the end, how effective Migraine life hacks can be is really up to each individual Migraineur, and that's going to vary from time to time. There are going to be times when we get angry and don't want to compromise because of having a disease. You know what? That's perfectly reasonable, when it happens occasionally. We all feel that way, sometimes.

In my day-to-day communications with Migraineurs from all over the world, I'm seeing a growing group of Migraineurs to whom I'd like to offer some encouragement and perspective when it comes to these Migraine life hacks. I think there are elements of today's fast-paced life that are building unrealistic expectation:

  • Cell phones mean we don't have to wait until we get home to phone people.
  • Text messaging means we don't even have to wait until we can call someone to tell them something.
  • Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter give us "instant" updates on what people are doing.
  • Email means we often don't have to wait for a regular postal letter to be delivered for "mail" communication.

These things make it easy for us to feel that we "can have it all" and forget that living fully, well, and successfully is usually a series of compromises. Nobody gets their way all the time. Maybe I shouldn't be, but I'm surprised when I get an email or a Facebook message from someone who has avoidable Migraine triggers such as foods, alcohol, smoke, loud music, or crowded bars and is upset because they have to give up certain social events or suffer with a Migraine. Now, I'm not so old that I can't remember hating to miss a big party or an important family event. Still, if I had a choice between going to a New Year's Eve party and drinking club soda with lime or drinking alcohol and being deathly ill with a Migraine, that seems to me to be an easy choice. If I knew chocolate was going to give me a level 10 Migraine, I think I'd prefer to abstain from it.

Anyway, what I'm really trying to say is that each of us has to decide what it's worth to us to avoid Migraines and to live better when they do strike. To me, it's well worth avoiding known triggers and some advance planning.

Do you have migraine life hacks to suggest? If so, please leave a comment and share them!

Live well,



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© Teri Robert, 2011
Last updated March 11, 2011

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