The holidays are filled with family, friends, all the joys of the season but also stress. Unfortunately for the more than 28 million people in the US who suffer from migraine headaches, the added stress of trying to get everything done, entertain, travel and keep up with normal daily life can trigger the dreaded migraine. In fact, 60 to 70 percent of those who get migraines say that stress is a major contributor. During a time when we should be enjoying the holidays, it helps to have some easy strategies to help destress and stave off tension.
Perhaps the simplest strategy is to adjust your expectations. If your overall health requires that you do less, modify holiday traditions or ask for help so that you can spend more quality time with friends and family, then do so. Keep in mind that even the best laid plans sometimes do not go as expected and there are events that cannot be controlled.
When tackling your holiday lists, keep a checklist so that you can easily see what you have to do and what you can skip, if necessary. Consider buying your gifts online to avoid the hectic crowds at the mall. Many online stores will wrap and mail the gifts directly to the recipient and the post office during the holidays is a definite stressor! Gift cards make excellent choices as well and today we can add personal notes and send right to someone’s email or smartphone with ease.
When it comes time to think about the holiday meal, simplify your recipes. There are tons of tips online for easy ways, or “hacks” to shortcut prep and cooking time while still achieving a meal that everyone will remember. When choosing holiday foods, be sure to keep in mind any food triggers that you might have. That holiday ham may have nitrates that are definitely not migraine-friendly.
Always pace yourself. We know our own bodies better than anyone else so keep in mind what you can do and if you need a break, then take one. The to-do list will still be there when you are ready to resume. If you are the consummate multitasker, step back and take on one thing at a time. Taking on too much can lead to anxiety and feeling frenzied. Enjoy the time you spend baking or trimming the tree instead of thinking ahead to the next task.
Try to maintain a steady sleep schedule. Although changes in sleep patterns are extremely common during the holidays, migraine sufferers are more susceptible to a headache when their sleep patterns change a great deal.
The holiday season is a very special time of year so with a little planning ahead, some stress management techniques and a little time out for yourself, the magic of the season can be yours without the pain associated with head pain. Happy holidays from Dr Ellis and the team at Georgia Chiropractic Neurology Center.