Migraines and Guided Imagery

Nancy Harris Bonk Health Guide
  • While visiting with a group of friends recently, we were catching up on our lives, children, health and families. We shared the good, the bad, and the ugly. Parenting and marriage filled most of the conversation, with some health issues mixed in. Most of us hadn't seen each other in over a year, but were able to talk like we had seen each other yesteday.


    Migraines came up a few times early in the day. Nothing I could sink my teeth into or get on my soapbox about. I was eager to share any information about Migraine disease I could. I try not to be too invasive, really I do! Maybe passionate is a better word. But then it happened. One of the women had a Migraine attack. 

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    Our friend was looking a little pale and kept closing her eyes during our conversations. Finally, I asked her if she was ok. She admitted that she was having a Migraine attack and had taken all the OTC medication she could (that was good, she knew about Medication Overuse Headache). Still in pain, she didn't have any rescue medications and wasn't sure what to do next. Our hands were tied, so we went a more natural route, guided imagery and cold compresses

    One cold compress was placed on her forehead and the other on the back of her neck. When they warmed up, I ran them under cold water again, and repeated the placement. She loved the way they both felt on her skin and had never done that before. I think she even had a low grade fever with this Migraine attack.


    Then I tried a form of guided imagery. I asked her to think of her favorite place and go there in her mind. Actually see the sky when she used to go there: were there clouds in the sky? what color was the sky? was there a breeze? any birds singing? Now be there with all those things...


    I said this in a calm, steady voice, asked her to slow her breathing down and try to relax. She said it was hard. The pain was too much. We kept at it. We moved to trees, and grass, and mountains... you get the idea. All to relax and remove her from her pain. It worked after a bit, but not enough to bring her pain to zero. It was a new idea she would explore after she saw her doctor the next day for some abortive and rescue medications.


    Guided imagery may be another tool for some of us to put in our toolbox. Have you tried using guided imagery to help relax and alleviate pain during a Migraine attack? If so, we'd love to hear about your experiences.

Published On: February 23, 2009