Stress is one of the biggest triggers of migraine. But, they say, stress is an inevitable part of life. So, how can one get rid these notorious headaches that are a result of stress? Firstly, it is important to understand what migraine is. It is a neurological condition that causes a throbbing headache with a pulsating sensation on one side of the head. Often, one also feels nauseated and there will be an increased sensitivity to light and sound. A migraine attack can last anywhere from a few hours to even a few days.
As a matter of fact, it is a cycle—stress triggers migraine and the chronic pain causes more stress. It can also lead to a tension headache, which is a slightly different type of headache from migraine which is usually without nausea. Here are some strategies that can help reduce stress and deal with migraine.
Eat a well-balanced diet: Food rich in Vitamin B-2 (riboflavin) and magnesium can be helpful.
Consume salmon: It is abundant in omega-3 fatty acids and can help control migraines. Whole grains, beans and leafy dark green vegetables are all high in magnesium, and according to the research, people who have magnesium get migraines. Mushrooms can help you deal with headaches and control migraines. Even carrots and sweet potatoes help alleviate the pain.
Learn to say no to certain things: Avoid chocolates, cheese, red wine, tobacco, alcohol, citrus, and processed foods. Avoid food with preservatives like monosodium glutamate and artificial sweeteners which are migraine triggers.
Adopt a healthy lifestyle: Follow a regular schedule with respect to eating, sleeping and exercise. Adequate sleep for seven to eight hours will help you get rid of the headache. Relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation can help you to de-stress. Try doing deep-breathing exercises as well. Exercising daily can also be beneficial. It can help you stay stress-free. You can do activities of your choice like running, walking or even aerobics.
Keep a journal: Write about the situations that cause stress and result in a migraine. Write about your feelings. Then watch out for those triggers and avoid them.
Stick to a proper schedule: Build a routine. Make a time table of the tasks you are supposed to carry out throughout the day. Stay organised. Don’t forget to take out some time and rejuvenate yourself. Indulge in activities like reading, gardening, listening to music or painting. This can help you stay stress-free and in turn reduce your chances of suffering from a migraine. Also, try to spend some quality time with your family and friends. Open up about your feelings. Try to speak to your near and dear ones about the things that worry you.
It is essential to get rid of stress in order to manage your migraine. Also remember that you must not self-medicate. Doing so is a strict no. Consult your neurologist if your migraine is bothering you.
Agarwal is senior consultant, neurology, and head of movement disorders clinic, Global Hospital, Mumbai.