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Migraines & Headaches Health Center

5 Important Lifestyle Changes for Migraine Patients

Daily habits may make a difference in your migraines.
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5. Reduce stress.

"Stress seems to be one of the biggest lifestyle factors associated with migraine," Tietjen says.

Of course, you can't get rid of all stress. But there are things you can do.

"Learning stress management techniques, like biofeedback, meditation, and cognitive behavioral strategies, is absolutely imperative for people with frequent headaches," Tietjen says.

Metzger notes that she's had to give up more intense exercise, like the indoor cycling classes she used to love, because she found that they brought on more pain than they relieved.

"And if I'm in a bad migraine cycle, I can't exercise," she says. "But if I get a break in the migraine cycle and work myself into a place where I'm exercising moderately on a regular basis, it's really good."

Keeping a journal is the best way to figure out which lifestyle factors may play a role in your migraines, Tietjen says.

Here's how:

  • Every day, write down what you ate and drank and when; when and if you exercised; when you went to bed and got up; and any big stresses you experienced.
  • Record when you get migraines.

After a few weeks, you can start to look for patterns in your journal.

"A lot of people will find that none of the identified triggers apply to them," Friedman warns. "And some triggers you can't do anything about. For example, strong odors trigger migraine for many people, and there's only so much you can do about your coworker's stinky perfume."

But if you can identify lifestyle factors that trigger migraines that are modifiable -- such as when you're eating and how much you're sleeping -- you may be able to find some relief.

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Reviewed on July 25, 2014

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