10 Tips for Enjoying the Holidays Despite Migraines

Patient Expert
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Holidays are times to enjoy, but those of us with problem Migraines and headaches can find themselves actually dreading the holiday season. Don't give up on the holidays though! There are many things you  can do to reduce or avoid episodes, provide some control over our disorders, and restore quality of life.


Get those zzzzs!

Too much, too little, poor quality, or disrupted sleep are common triggers. Experts recommend we set bed and wake-up times and stick to them, even on weekends, holidays and vacation. If you often wake with a Migraine, don't feel rested after a night's sleep, or experience excessive daytime sleepiness, talk to your doctor about your sleep patterns. See Transformed Migraine Related to Sleep Problems.


Avoid dehydration

For some people, even mild dehydration can trigger head pain, so drinking lots of fluids is essential. Take a bit of care with what you’re drinking as some fruit juices and caffeine can be triggers. Proper hydration is essential to good health in general, so you’ll be working on more than head pain prevention! More info: Dehydration - An Avoidable Migraine Trigger.


Meal times

Meal schedules can get erratic at times, especially during the holidays. We often don't even think of this, but it can be a huge trigger. Make a special effort to have balanced meals on a regular schedule. If your schedule is busy, keep healthy snacks handy. Look out for fast food snacks though. They can do as much harm as good. Check out Managing Migraine - Migraine Food Triggers.


Keeping track

Don't ignore your Migraine diary during the holidays. Triggers may differ during this time, and if you can identify them, perhaps you can reduce your Migraines and headaches. Remember: You may encounter a trigger up to 48 hours before a Migraine begins. Your diary may reveal patterns that hadn’t been spotted before. See Your Migraine and Headache Diary.


Take time for you

We all need time to ourselves. Set aside a period of time every day that is just for you. Whether you meditate, listen to a relaxation CD, exercise a bit, just sit quietly, or soak in a bubble bath, use this time to focus on you, how you’re feeling, what you need. Use this time to recharge and center yourself. It will pay off, leaving you more relaxed and aware of yourself.


Wear those shades!

Consider this an investment: a good pair of optical-grade, polarized sunglasses. Optical-grade lenses don’t have the distortion that some inexpensive lenses have. Polarization is essential for cutting glare. Wear them indoors and out, whenever the light is bothersome. Add a ball cap when light comes in above the sunglasses so the bill can block that light. See Good Sunglasses.


Remember your meds!

Check and refill your prescriptions as soon as refills are available so you don't find yourself without your medications. Don't forget to take your preventives. Set an alarm clock as a reminder if you need to. Keep abortive, nausea, and rescue meds with you at all times. More meds info: Preventive, Abortive, and Rescue Medications - What's the Difference?


Eat, drink, be merry

Is alcohol or certain foods a trigger? When you attend a party, ask what's on the menu. You can always take something with you if you're comfortable doing so, or eat at home beforehand. If alcohol is a trigger for you, drink sparkling cider or tonic instead. More: Managing Migraine Trigger Foods.


Planning ahead

Make lists, delegate, plan ahead! Repeat after me - "Lists are our friends." In your word processor, type up a list of things that need to be done. Then delegate - split up what needs to be done and engage everyone's help. Stress can bring on nasty tension-type headaches which, in turn, can trigger Migraines. So, give stress the boot by planning ahead!


Enjoy yourself

So what if the gifts aren't all perfectly wrapped, or the turkey is a bit dry? Don't worry about it! Our loved ones are more interested in us. We simply can’t let little things bother us. Stress can trigger tension headaches and Migraines. We have to learn to prioritize and do the best we can. See: Marcia Cross on Navigating Holiday Parties with Migraines.