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Managing Stress to Manage Migraines

Stress has been tied to many chronic diseases and mental health problems. According to the American Headache Society 4 out of 5 people with migraine report stress as a trigger for migraine.

Did you know that you should practice stress management techniques even when you are not stressed for it to be effective?

Practicing even a few minutes of your chosen stress relieving activity daily allows your body and mind to "understand" the relaxing effect that you are trying to achieve when you are stressed and try to do the activity. In other words, if you only meditate when you are stressed you may find that it does not work for you. Your mind needs you to meditate when you are NOT stressed to know that (state of not stressed) is the state of mind that you are trying to achieve.

Ways to Ease stress


Sit on a straight-backed chair or cross-legged on the floor. Focus on an aspect of your breathing, such as the sensations of air flowing into your nostrils and out of your mouth, or your belly rising and falling as you inhale and exhale. Do this for 10 mins.

  • Use guided meditation

  • Deep Breath

  • Use moving meditation such as walking, coloring, knitting, Take 10 minutes of quiet time to yourself

Improve time management

Delegate or remove unnecessary tasks after evaluating your priorities (ensuring there is time for you). Set aside time for different tasks throughout the day, such as answering emails, writing memos, and returning phone calls. Put away distractions while you're working online - no texts, tweets, emails, or games while you're doing your tasks.

Improve your mood

Take cognition distortions into account. Are you magnifying a problem, jumping to conclusions, or applying emotional reasoning? Take a moment to reflect and breathe. Many mistakes and regrets can be prevented this way.

Have you heard of "fake it till you make it"? The action of smiling can actually change your mood for the better.

Feeling uncertain?

If you ever feel uncertain about a situation or problem, ask for help. Don't be afraid to get support. Ask a knowledgeable friend, check reliable online sources, or call the local library or an organization that can supply the information you need. Write down other ways that you might get the answers or skills you need.

Find time to decompress

Make mini-relaxations a habit. Focus on each aspect of a specific task or pleasure. Commit to one week of rising a bit earlier or paring down your schedule enough to allow time for relaxation.

Stop with the pessimism

Remind yourself of the importance of optimistic thought: a more joyful life and, possibly, someone who is healthier. Reduce cognitive distortions by practicing deflation. Watch funny movies and read funny books. Write down the reasons you are grateful.

In case the list seems too short, consider beefing up your social network and adding creative, productive, and leisure pursuits to your life.

Reduce conflicts with others

Don't let the conflicts with others make you feel upset. Be open about how you feel but avoid placing the blame on the other person. State your needs or distress directly, and say, “I feel _____ when you _____.” “I would really appreciate it if you could _____.” “I need some help setting priorities". Ask yourself, "What needs to be done first, and what should I address later?" If conflicts are a significant source of distress for you, consider assertiveness training.

Connect with others

Having just a brief conversation with a friend or a stranger at a grocery store can make all the difference. Don't be afraid to make a conversation, most people would be happy to make new friends and talk. Become a volunteer. Participate in community or religious events. Invite an acquaintance to coffee. Get in touch with someone you miss.

Creating a community or a "Tribe" that you can call or turn to can be a huge "game changer" in terms of reducing stress, anxiety and depression. We all need those people that are going to be on our side. Someone to hear us. Even pets can fill the need for companionship without judgement.

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