As we get into warmer weather it that time of year when the heat will trigger more migraines. I have been doing so well for about two months with barely any attacks until last week and I had several days when I slept all day and probably only exercised once maybe twice when I am to six days because of pain. Bad pain is a reality of life when you live with migraines and I am fortunate that I have my migraines pretty much under control and don’t have many bad pain weeks where my entire week is totally unproductive. Not everyone has that and some people experience high pain week like this quite often and I feel for you because it is frustrating. Finding stuff to do during high pain days that won’t trigger more pain can be difficult so I thought I would talk about what I do to prevent it from getting worse so I can feel better as soon as possible.
Sit in a dark room- When you are experiencing a migraine attack light from a computer screen or any at all is a common migraine trigger and can make the pain worse for some people. Sometimes when the pain is just too much I sit in a dark room for as little as thirty minutes to several hours depending on how severe my pain is and often times I will be able to get enough relief to where I can function.
Watch Netflix- When your entire body hurts sometimes you can’t really do much of anything except lay in bed and watch some of your favorite movies and tv shows. I love a good Disney film and I never tire from an oldie but a goodie the Gilmore Girls! People often judge those living with pain when you need to lay in bed all day watching Netflix but you should never feel guilty about it because you are doing what you have to do to get better. No one can fully understand what your going through unless they have personally gone through themselves and if they are making wrongful accusations of you then just ignore it and know they’re wrong and it’s there a problem, not yours!
Have a hot bath- When I have high pain my entire body aches like I haven’t stretched in weeks and I am physically exhausted even if I did nothing that day that would cause me to be tired. Stretches can help get relief but on high pain sometimes it does very little and I need a hot bath to relax and if it’s really bad I’ll add some peppermint oil to my bath because that will help get relief from joint pain or headaches which is often the reason I am taking it. Baths don’t always get rid of all my pain but it can take unbearable pain and make it bearable so I will be able to at least try and do something productive that day which I would not have been able to do without it.
Talk to someone who understands– Many people will be sympathetic towards condition but unless you personally have experienced it you have no idea what it’s like and reading blog posts or knowing someone who is disabled is not the same thing as fully understanding it. If you are a migraineur and are struggling with coping with migraines talk to another migraineur because although they can’t get rid of your pain they may be able to help you cope and give you comfort for your pain. Sometimes when pain is high you may feel alone but it’s important you know that your not and many people with chronic conditions experience the same types of things you do. Reach out to someone who has your condition and have a chat because having a new can make the journey so much easier.
Take naps- One of the most annoying things about my pain is that my brain is the most active at five a.m. before I have even gone bed yet and the most tired at noon when my day has just begun but it would be great if I could reverse this and have normal sleeping patterns! My medication has helped decrease my migraines but just like any medication it isn’t perfect and what it hasn’t done is improve my sleep. I don’t know if it ever will or if there is a medication that can help regulate my sleeping patterns and I have accepted that. I don’t sleep well a night but I sleep fine during the day so I take long three-hour naps daily to make up for the sleep I lost during the night. I did an experiment to see if I tried to fight it and took these naps out if I would sleep better at night but it ended up being a total fail and I was just more sleep-deprived. It can get annoying to have to take four-hour naps in the middle of the afternoon but sometimes that what my body is telling me to do and it’s not the best idea to fight it for lower pain. Naps won’t get rid of the pain or really affect your pain levels at all but if you aren’t getting enough sleep your pain could worsen and make pain that is already bad a whole lot worse.
Make sure your hydrated- It’s always important to stay hydrated to prevent from causing any medical problems that could be aggravated by dehydration but if you are having a high pain day it’s even more important if you don’t want to prevent your pain from getting any worse because it definitely can trigger migraines. When you are dehydrated you will have increased levels of pain so track how much water you are drinking and make sure you are getting enough of it and not getting dehydrated. It will be much harder to treat pain from dehydration than it would have been if you just would have prevented it all together by getting your daily water intake.
Limit alcohol- It is a fact that alcohol worsens chronic pain and migraines. Some people who only get an occasional migraine might be able to have an occasional drink without a problem and others will have one sip and get and a raging headache. Alcohol can have a huge effect on your body if you are not paying attention to how much you are consuming causing elevated heart rate and severe migraine which can be dangerous. I have never had a high tolerance for even before my migraine days because the only time I drank was on special occasions but now I can’t even handle it without getting excruciating that will put me out for the day. The pain I get from alcohol is never worth I have just given that up because there are other things I can substitute and will enjoy far more!
Try low-intensity exercise- Inactivity can cause joints to weaken which will make any recurring pain start to worsen and everyday tasks more difficult so if you can move your body because if just five minutes will make a huge difference for your health. To make your life easier try doing something low intensity like Pilates or Yoga that can help control your breathing and keep you strong so your pain won’t worsen from lack of physical activity. Sometimes when you’re in pain it can be difficult to motivate yourself to be active but even just five minutes to make a huge difference in your health. Sometimes I incorporate weights in my routines if I am having a good day because it can add more resistance to your workout but when pain is high I stick primarily to bodyweight exercises.
Don’t exercise at all- When someone has chronic pain people often are very quick to suggest Yoga or some other form of low-intensity exercise because they think it is the cure and will help. Many chronic pain sufferers prefer low-intensity routines such as Yoga but you shouldn’t be so quick to suggest it because not always is it a good idea to exercise. If pain is too high you shouldn’t be exercising or pushing your body but focusing on recovery because doing so will make it worse.. When I have to take a week off from doing Pilates I often feeling guilty about not doing it and have to remind myself it’s not by choice or from me being lazy but because my body demands it if I want to feel better.
Stretch– Stretching improves flexibility and range of motion which are important for less pain. Muscles get stiff when you exercise a lot or sit at a computer all day so even if you can’t workout you may still be able to benefit from stretching unless you have a disability where it becomes difficult or won’t give you any benefits at all.
Know your food triggers- Foods can either nourish your body or cause your pain so it can be helpful to track what you eat for less pain. I have more potential food triggers than foods that don’t trigger me at all so it would be nearly impossible to avoid them all but I do it as well as I can and to the best of my ability which is all you can do. You can’t always avoid all your triggers if you have too many or your out and don’t want to be rude but you can remove what you know will cause you even more pain and give you the most trouble.
Don’t skip meals- The absolute worst thing you can do for pain is to skip meals as it will worsen your pain. Skipping meals will cause your blood sugar to drop triggering the worst migraines you will ever have. Once migraines strike it’s not so easy just to get rid of them and it could be hours to days with excruciating pain before you get relief. Nourishment is what your body needs when you are in pain not deprivation so feed your body good foods and make sure you are getting all the vital nutrients.
Distract yourself- High pain days can last anywhere from twenty-four hours to weeks at a time. If pain is higher than normal just laying there and waiting until it passes will seem like an eternity. Find something to distract yourself from the pain like listening to music or if you are up to it find a craft you enjoy. You can’t always get pain down but laying there and thinking about it will not make it go away any faster so try and distract yourself so you will at least be in good spirits.
Scream in a pillow– Pain messes with your emotions and can turn the nicest people into monsters with the click of a switch. We all have those days when we feel like yelling and screaming at everyone around us but it doesn’t mean we should or that it will help you feel better. Randomly putting out a high pitch scream might annoy or shock your peers so instead scream in a pillow to let your frustrations because it okay to be angry and frustrated but it’s not okay to take that anger out on others just cause you can. It’s important you let your feeling out in the best way you but not in an angered manner because no one will want to help you if you act that way. People will be sympathetic towards your pain if they know why you are upset but if you just start yelling and screaming at someone for no apparent reason it might just make them mad and wonder why you have such an attitude.
Increase my caffeine- Caffeine is not the ultimate fix for migraines but for some people it might worsen there pain and they should cut back or not drink it at all. For me, it helps so when pain is elevated I take an Excredin which has caffeine in it and I drink an extra cup of coffee and usually, that will give me some relief.
When you have a high pain day or week it can be frustrating when you have tons of things you want to get done but don’t have the energy to do it. I have been fortunate that my medication works most of the time and significantly reduces my migraines days but it hasn’t always been that way and before my doctor found a medication that worked for me there was a time I had multiple migraines a week with practically no relief. During the search to find a medication it was hard to just get out bed and for some, they are still living that reality because there is no solution that will significantly reduce their bad pain days. It’s okay to be angry but you have to remember your pain is something you have to live with but it isn’t who you are so don’t ever lose sight of that. Practice self-care on bad pain days because your biggest regret will be trying to push yourself into doing something that could have waited until you were feeling better. It’s frustrating to have to put things on hold when it feels like you shouldn’t have to but you know yourself and what will be even more annoying is needing a longer recovery because you wanted to do it all. What do you do on bad pain days?