Migraines: 5 Tips to Take Control
Don't Eat Chocolate in the Rain
Many people know what their migraine triggers are. But what they don’tknow is that some triggers happen together. Chocolate and changes in weather could be one example.
Keep a diary to see what sets you off and, if nothing seems obvious, look for "coincidences." Once you've found any single, double, or triple triggers, it’s easier to avoid them.
For example, you can block out offending light with sunglasses (including some that are specially made for people who have regular migraines), anti-glare screens on your computer, and using the right light bulb. You can dress in layers to adjust to temperature changes that may trigger headaches. You can even prevent migraines by avoiding motion sickness. For instance, sit in the front seat and don’t read in the car. If you get woozy during 3-D movies, skip the glasses.
Common food triggers are aged cheese, red wine, chocolate, caffeine, and avocado. Often, something as unexpected as egg whites or corn is the problem.
But don’t overdo it, doctors say. "It's important to realize not every trigger is specific for that person," says Lawrence C. Newman, MD, president of the American Headache Society. "Don't go changing your life by avoiding everything."
Once Jacobson looked back on her migraines, she discovered that the only days she didn't have a headache were the ones when she was on vacation. Why? She wasn't checking her email or taking work calls. In other words, she wasn't stressed.
Stress is a major migraine culprit. But often, you don't know what's happening until it’s over and you're relaxing. This is the so-called "letdown" headache. "Students with migraine often make it through the big test, then get a headache the next day," Lipton says. "Lawyers make it through the big trial or big deposition."
If you have stressful things in your life that you can change, change them. If not, change how you react to what stresses you. "The way stress gets translated into physiology is through perception," Lipton says. "Things are neither stressful nor not stressful; but thinking makes them so."
You can try to relax with meditation, guided imagery, yoga, or just by focusing on one task at a time. Exercise 30 minutes three times a week, too. It may be one of the surest ways to de-stress.