Migraines and Headaches - Coping and Staying Whole
Migraine disease and headaches can be devastating. They can make us feel isolated, ineffective, and guilty. After a while, we can begin to wonder if part of it IS "all in our heads," even though we know better intellectually. Our emotional selves are sometimes at odds with our more rational intellectual selves.
What we must remember if we're to cope well with Migraines and headaches is to take a holistic approach and treat mind, body, and spirit. Here are some suggestions for traveling that path...
- Remember that we are NOT our illness. We must not let Migraines or headaches define who we are.
- Control our level of acceptance. I've read that we must accept any illness we may have, that it's healthy to welcome what we cannot cure. Nonsense! To welcome something gives it power. We may have to accept that Migraines and headaches are part of our lives, but we don't have to welcome them.
- Breathe and relax to maintain overall health. Dr. William Young (Jefferson Headache Center) gave me an invaluable piece of advice. He told me to find a relaxation CD that I liked and listen to it every day -- regardless of how I felt, regardless of how my Migraine frequency stood. The reason? Relaxation improves overall health, and improving overall health makes us less susceptible to our Migraine triggers.
- Take Some "Me Time" Each Day. All of us want to be at our best for our family, friends, and jobs. Here's something to consider -- How can we be at our best for others if we don't take care of ourselves? The truth is pretty straight forward. We can't be at our best for others if we're not taking care of ourselves so we can be at our best for ourselves. Part of this has to do with our frame of mind. Our days and our responsibilities rush us, and we too often don't take time for ourselves. Try taking 30 minutes of "me time" every day, and you'll be amazed at the difference it makes. What you do with that time is up to you as long as you're selfish with it and use the time for yourself. You can meditate, journal, pray, do relaxation exercises, take a bubble bath, whatever works for you. You'll find that you're more focused and centered and ready to take on the world if you take this bit of time for yourself.
Dump the Guilt:
Guilt is destructive and unnecessary, and we bring most of it on ourselves. Guilt is also a very negative expenditure of energy, and our energy is too valuable to spend it in negative ways. Instead of spending energy on feeling guilty about things we miss or things we can't do, it's far better to conserve that energy and use it in positive ways. Quite bluntly, if someone in our lives criticizes us or makes us feel guilty for events we miss or things we can't do, it's really their problem not ours, and only the person who owns a problem can solve it. If there's someone in your life who continually makes you feel guilty, talk to them. Maybe they don't realize they're doing it, and pointing it out to them can bring about a change. If they just "don't get it," and don't want to effect a change, then it's time to reevaluate their place in your life. You deserve better.
Remember, You Can Be in Control:
Repeat after me: "I have Migraines, but Migraines do not have me. I have headaches, but headaches do not have me." We do not have to let Migraines or headaches control our lives. Let's make it a primary goal to work toward controlling them rather than them controlling us! It can be done. Follow these suggestions, and you'll find that control coming within reach more and more.
Want more tips for living well despite Migraines and headaches?
You can find them in Migraines and Headaches - Tips for Living Well All Year.