There’s plenty of advice about what you should or shouldn’t do over the holidays to avoid a migraine.
I’m not going to tell you what to do.
I’m simply writing a list for me to refer to so that I can avoid migraines this Xmas whilst eating trigger foods (like chocolate!) and drinking alcohol.
A few years ago when my migraines were raging out of control I wouldn’t attempt to eat chocolate or drink alcohol. Today things are different. If you’re migraines aren’t chronic, you might find some interesting approaches in this Christmas survival guide to myself.
This is what I need to do:
Sleep for me is a force multiplier. Everything is harder when I get less than 8.5 hours sleep. With 9 hours sleep and waking up at the same time for 2-3 days in a row I’m golden. I’ve got loads of energy and feel like I’ve never had a migraine in my life.
This is one of my biggest factors. And it’s so easy to stay up late during the holidays. If I follow everything else in this list. Sleeping well comes relatively easy (note: I don't have kids yet).
2) Eat better (except Xmas day)
Remember, what you put into your mouth can be either your medicine or poison.
Many foods are triggers and you’ve been lazy and complacent lately. We know where that eventually leads.
Tighten up the belt and be more disciplined with what you know you’re safe to eat. You’ll feel good and be in a much better position come Xmas. Then, you can have a guilt free day when you want to go overboard on everything delicious.
Every day. Cardio on every alternate days and strength and flexibility in-between. Getting my heart rate up builds resilience, reduces pain sensitivity and pumps natural “feel good” chemicals into the brain that help defend against migraine.
Feeling good translates into looking good. You can guarantee there will be lots of family photos on the day if that's any extra incentive ;)
10mins each day. Simple.
You know how good it makes you feel afterwards so keep it up. Even if you’re tired. It’s better for you than an extra 10 mins of sleep.
You need at least 3 days in a row to start noticing the benefit throughout the day.
If you don’t feel like doing it. Just take 10 deep breaths sitting on a chair with good posture before going to bed. It’s better than nothing and still helps.
5) Keep up the vitamins
You’re disciplined with your vitamin intake each day, keep doing this as it helps reduce your migraine vulnerability and sensitivities whilst facilitating optimal brain function.
6) Drink lots of water
Dehydration is a trigger and drinking enough water reduces your migraine vulnerability. It’s also required for your body to function properly.
7) Keep making your diary entries
Your daily migraine diary keeps you honest and on track. You know when you’re falling behind on meditation or sleep or when your undisciplined diet is starting to affect you.
Use the diary as your performance barometer and course correct when required.
On Christmas day:
- Keep abortive medication nearby just in case. Keep a medicinal preventative on as well incase your feeling particularly vulnerable at any point.
- When about to consume strong trigger foods/drinks do so after you already have something in your stomach – not on an empty stomach! It seems to have significantly less of an impact that way.
- Enjoy yourself in moderation. Don’t over indulge.
- Check in with yourself before you go for that extra piece of chocolate or alcoholic drink to make sure you can handle it.
- Drink water in between drinks.
- Keep the next day relaxed and easy going.
- Be present on the day and enjoy the company of friends and family, there's nothing more important than them.
I'd love to hear your plans for a migraine free Christmas! Let me know what you'll be doing in the comments section below.
(This really is a short personal note to myself this year. If you'd like me to explain anything in more detail let me know in the comments.)