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Migraines & Headaches Health Center

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5 Important Lifestyle Changes for Migraines

Don't Eat Chocolate in the Rain

Many people know what their migraine triggers are. But what many don’t  know 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 trigger headaches in some people. You can even prevent migraines by avoiding motion sickness by doing such things as sitting in the front seat and not reading 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 are the villains.

But, doctors say, don’t overdo it."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."

Avoid Letdown

Once Jacobson looked back on her migraines and 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 the major culprit when it comes to migraines. But often, you don't know what's happening until the stress is 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 life circumstances 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."

Relaxation and cognitive behavioral strategies can reduce stress. These include mindfulness exercises, like meditation and guided imagery; yoga; or even just focusing on one task at a time. Exercise 30 minutes three times a week. It’ll help you de-stress. 

Vacations are good, too.

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