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5 Ways MyMigraineTeam Members Cope With Chronic Migraine

Medically reviewed by Manuel Penton, M.D.
Written by Anika Brahmbhatt
Posted on February 26, 2024

Unlike regular headaches, migraine is a complex neurological condition, and scientists continue to research what causes them. Although chronic migraine and migraine auras can significantly disrupt daily life, there are several ways to manage the condition.

Read on to see how MyMigraineTeam members prevent, treat, and cope with their migraine attacks.

1. Eliminating Certain Foods From Their Diet

Some MyMigraineTeam members report that adjusting their diet helped their migraine symptoms feel less severe. “I’m starting to notice differences since I started eliminating things from my diet,” shared one person.

Dietary migraine triggers vary from person to person, and even some characteristics or processes — like fermenting, pickling, and curing foods — can make food items more likely to trigger a migraine attack.

Some people with chronic migraine find relief by following an anti-inflammatory diet. One MyMigraineTeam member suggested, “Try eliminating processed and artificially flavored, sweetened, and colored foods from your diet. I did this about five years ago and had great results. … [My bad spells] would be so much worse if I went back to my old way of eating.”

Another member wrote: “After almost 50 years of migraines, my doctor suggested I try going on an all-natural diet: nothing artificial or processed. … After two weeks, I was almost totally migraine-free. I still get them, but not every day at a pain scale of 8 or above. It’s not always easy — there’s a lot of cooking involved — but it’s certainly better than having a daily migraine.”

The timing of your meals might also affect your migraine attacks. Try to eat at the same time each day and not skip meals, since fasting can increase your likelihood of developing a migraine.

Remember that there is no one “correct” diet for people dealing with chronic migraine. As one MyMigraineTeam member put it, “Diets help, but your triggers may be different than others’, so keeping a log is the best way to figure it out.”

2. Keeping a Migraine Diary

Journaling about your migraine triggers, whether food-related or not, is a good idea. MyMigraineTeam members discuss how keeping a log of their migraine pain has helped them.

“Still trying to pinpoint my triggers for my migraines. Joined MyMigraineTeam to see what other people are doing for theirs,” wrote one person.

Another responded, “I keep a detailed migraine diary, keeping dates, severity, length, etc. I discovered my migraine attacks were linked to hormones and not foods.”

Write down your symptoms, what you were doing just before them, and the time of day, so that you and your doctor can look for patterns later on. You may realize that a large number of migraine attacks happen after certain activities, and that can clue you in on your triggers.

Staying on top of a headache log when you are dealing with chronic pain can be tough, but it can be very rewarding in the long run. “Over the years, it has been amazing to realize how long my list of triggers is,” shared one team member.

3. Managing Their Stress Levels

Stress is a common trigger for migraine attacks. “Stress and anxiety make the migraines come on,” shared one team member.

Another member wrote that better managing their anxiety helped reduce their migraine attacks: “I went to my headache specialist today and asked why my anxiety medication seems to help my headaches. She said my anxiety is triggering headaches. So by the anxiety medication treating my anxiety, that is reducing my headaches!”

People with migraine may be more susceptible to anxiety and depression, so know that you’re not alone if you struggle with mental health disorders. If support groups and stress-management techniques don’t seem to be enough to make you feel better, ask your doctor about medications for anxiety and depression, psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, biofeedback, and other mental health treatments.

MyMigraineTeam members talk about how they manage stress in their day-to-day lives. One person wrote, “Just finished hosting my in-laws for lunch at my house. I cooked the main dish yesterday, so I just had to warm it up today to save myself from stress. Been fighting four-plus years of daily migraine. Finding ways to help reduce stress seems to be helpful.”

Another member wrote about the difficult balance of caring for others and caring for themselves: “I was a caregiver for my family when I finally figured I had migraines. I had to fight a little for more self-care, and it was worth it.”

Taking care of yourself is essential. Mount Sinai suggests practicing deep breathing, meditation, and yoga. “I do yoga and it helps,” shared one MyMigraineTeam member. Another member wrote, “My head is killing me. I went to yoga and the pain is better.”

Lifestyle changes, like taking some to-do items off your plate or practicing relaxation techniques, can help prevent migraine attacks. Knowing how to treat migraine can be tough because migraine attacks can be so unpredictable, but practicing stress relief strategies can help you feel more in control of your condition.

“Had a pretty good week, some ups and downs, but nothing major — but that can change in an hour,” wrote one member. “I’m working on acceptance, breathing exercises, meditation, and exercise along with all the regular drugs, which are a hit and a miss.”

Whether you relieve stress by meditating, physical activity, or connecting with friends and family, finding ways to keep stress levels low is an important part of managing migraine pain.

4. Regulating Their Sleep Schedules

MyMigraineTeam members discuss how sleep affects their symptoms. “If I get less than five hours of sleep, it’s an automatic migraine trigger,” wrote one member.

“Migraine yet again, from the weather change and lack of sleep,” another shared.

Some people’s migraine headaches may be triggered by too little sleep, others by too much sleep, or both. One member wrote: “Had a migraine yesterday, so I went to bed super early last night and slept in. I know that a lack of sleep is a trigger for my migraine. I got a full 12 hours of sleep and woke up migraine-free today.”

Getting proper sleep can make a huge difference. “I actually got some decent sleep today!” shared one team member. “Slept until almost 10 a.m. ... Woke up energized and feeling like I could conquer the day!”

To regulate sleep, the Mayo Clinic recommends going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, practicing relaxation techniques before bed, keeping work out of your bedroom, and checking to make sure your medications don’t contain any stimulant drugs.

5. Discussing Migraine Treatments With Their Doctors

Ultimately, the most important coping strategy for migraine is to communicate with a trusted health care team. When over-the-counter treatments like acetaminophen and ibuprofen aren’t enough to manage headache pain, you may have to ask them what you could try next. You might want to chat with a health expert about preventive medications or how to manage your condition more generally.

MyMigraineTeam members have many positive things to say about working with health care professionals whom they trust. “I’ve moved and had to find all new doctors. Love all of them, especially my neurologist,” shared one team member.

Team members benefit from talking about medication management with their doctor. “I struggled with my medication,” shared one member, offering advice to another member. “I liked that I didn’t get side effects from it, but it didn’t work by itself. I had to pair it with something else. … I’d talk to your neurologist and see what they’d recommend to take with it/if you can take something additional with it for next time.”

Having a health care provider in your corner can make it easier to tackle your treatment plan. When MyMigraineTeam members were surveyed about what they thought made a good migraine doctor, the most important factor was having someone who actively listened to them.

Remember that you are not alone in dealing with chronic migraine. With the support of health care providers, loved ones, and a support group, you can find coping strategies that work to improve your quality of life.

Find Your Team

MyMigraineTeam is the social network for people with migraine and their loved ones. On MyMigraineTeam, more than 81,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with migraine.

How do you cope with chronic migraine? Do you have any tips for others living with chronic migraine? Share your experience in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.

    Posted on February 26, 2024
    All updates must be accompanied by text or a picture.

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    Manuel Penton, M.D. is a medical editor at MyHealthTeam. Learn more about him here.
    Anika Brahmbhatt is an undergraduate student at Boston University, where she is pursuing a dual degree in media science and psychology. Learn more about her here.

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