Migraine attacks are a giant pain in the… well, several places, depending on whether we’re speaking literally or metaphorically. During the holiday season, their impact is often magnified because they can so strongly impact our ability to take part in even the smallest holiday events. They can cause us to miss holiday events at work, family holiday celebrations, religious observances, and more. So, it makes sense to look at ways to avoid or manage those holiday Migraine triggers.
Not only must we deal with the pain of Migraine, but all the other symptoms as well, both physical and emotional. Between Migraine attacks, we worry about when the next one will hit. What will it cause us to miss?
There are two issues that come into play especially strongly during the holiday season:
- Guilt. We often feel guilty, feel that we’re letting down the people most important to us. Maybe it’s because we’ve been unable to do holiday shopping, wrap presents, prepare holiday meals or celebrations, or attend events with those close to us.
- Isolation. Migraine often makes us feel isolated, and never more so than during a season when there’s so much going on, so much to do.
Feelings of guilt and isolation can be made worse if the people who are important to us don’t understand Migraine disease and that we can’t help missing events and being unable to do all the things we want or need to do.
Since we’re quickly approaching the winter holiday season, I’d like to offer you a few practical suggestions for facing the challenges of holiday Migraine triggers as well a letter about Migraine disease that you can email or print out to share with friends and others who are close to you but don’t really “get it” yet.
Some holiday Migraine trigger suggestions:
- When possible, rest up. Migraines can strike more frequently and severely when we’re tired. Be sure to get enough good quality sleep at night. It’s recommended that Migraineurs go to bed at the same time every day, including weekends and holidays because too much sleep, too little sleep, or an irregular sleep schedule can be strong Migraine triggers. If napping isn’t a trigger for you, fit in a nap before an event to be sure you’re well rested.
- Choose your location. Are you better off hosting events at your home so you have more control over your surroundings, or are you better off when someone else hosts events so you don’t have to do as much preparation? If you’re better off in your home, and your friends are amenable to it, host holiday events yourself.
- Plan foods. If you have Migraine food triggers, plan ahead. If you’re going to an event with food, take a Migraine-friendly dish with you to share.
- About that alcohol. Are alcoholic beverages a Migraine trigger for you? For some of us, all alcoholic beverages are a trigger; for some, only certain ones are triggers. Club soda or tonic water with lime are refreshing, and they look like a mixed drink. They let you fit right in with everyone else without triggering a Migraine. You can also buy non-alcoholic champagne.
- Don’t skip meals. Going to a holiday dinner? Is it scheduled later than you usually have dinner? If so, have a snack at home so eating later doesn’t trigger a Migraine.
Helping others understand Migraine:
Let’s be honest here. People who are truly our friends will work to understand Migraine disease and its impact on us. If they don’t want to enlighten themselves, we may need to reconsider some friendships.
Some people have said, “If someone hasn’t had a Migraine attack, they can’t understand.” I don’t believe that. Other people may not be able to know exactly what an attack feels like, but they’re capable of understanding what Migraine attacks do to us — IF they want to. If we say to someone, “If you’ve never had a Migraine attack, you can’t understand,” it can be offensive to some people. AND it can actually make the social stigma associated with Migraine disease worse. Instead, we need to offer them information about Migraine in an effort to educate them, to give them a chance to understand.
Below is a letter that you can download to help educate others about Migraine. You can save the PDF and email it, or you can print it to give to people. I keep a copy in my wallet at all times so I always have it handy.A letter to help others understand migraine