Migraines or not, February tends to be a month when people discuss relationship issues. These are vitally important all year, so I'm deliberately not writing about this on Valentine's day.
True relationships, as opposed to mere acquaintances, are replete with challenges. When one or more of the people involved in relationships have Migraine disease or another headache disorder, there are more, often more complicated, challenges. Still, relationships are vital to our mental and physical health and are worth the work that needs to go into them.
Scientists have shown the value of friendship to our health. Isolation can be horribly detrimental to our health and well-being. Lisa Berkman, an epidemiologist at the Harvard School of Public Health has extensively studied the impact of social isolation. Her research concluded that people who were socially isolated were 2.5 to 3 times more likely to die over the next seven years than those who were not. In reaching these results, she ruled out risky behaviors in the subjects that could impact the results, and commented,
"What social isolation was doing was making you more susceptible or less resilient to any disease you might get."
Some basic facts about relationships are relevant to all relationships, whether Migraines are a factor or not:
- Although we often forget this and seldom discuss it, it takes work to sustain good relationships.
- Give-and-take is needed on both sides of relationships. With out it, relationships become strained, sometimes to the point of ending. The balance of give-and-take naturally fluctuates, but should balance out overall.
There are some simple methods we can employ to maintain relationships and hopefully avoid some of the strain that Migraine an other chronic illnesses can create:
- Keeping in Touch:With today's technology, it's easier to keep in touch with people. Combining basic communication with technology can go a long way toward maintaining relationships.
- Telephone, email, text messages, and old-fashioned postal mail can be used to catch up with how our friends are doing, which reminds them we're here and care.
- Social media, smart phone applications, and the calendar programs on our computers can be used to send us reminders of dates that are important to remember - birthdays, anniversaries, and more.
- Some florists and gift shops, online and bricks-and-mortar, often have reminder services. Some also have services that allow us to order gifts sent on specified dates or on a repeating schedule, so gifts can be sent even if we're not feeling well and might have forgotten.
- Showing Appreciation: One of the most important things my father taught me was not to wait to tell people we care about them because we never know how long we'll have those people in our lives. We need to let people know we care about them, and we need to do it often. Especially when Migraines keep us from seeing those people as often as we'd like, we need to let those we care for know we're thinking of them.
- Initiate Invitations: We've all had to say, "No," to invitations because we didn't feel well. When this happens often over time, the invitations we receive may dwindle. When we feel well, we need to extend invitations to our friends and loved ones. A quiet evening of conversation or a movie night in our own homes where we can control the environment may well allow us to socialize more than going out, so think about what you can do and invite some friends.
When Migraine related issues strain our relationships, there are approaches and tools we can utilize to strengthen or even mend them: