How to Create a Desk Toolkit for Migraine at Work

May 29, 2024
May 24, 2024
How to Create a Desk Toolkit for Migraine at Work

Migraine doesn't clock out when you start your workday. The demands of a job, from stressful deadlines to flickering fluorescent lights, can often trigger or exacerbate migraine attacks. This vicious cycle leads to a significant decrease in productivity, as you struggle to focus amidst the pain and accompanying symptoms.

A well-stocked desk migraine toolkit can provide a sense of control and preparedness, empowering you to take swift action when a migraine attack strikes. By having readily available remedies tailored to your specific needs, you can potentially shorten the duration and severity of attacks, minimize lost work time, and maintain your productivity.

What are the elements of a desk toolkit?

1. Essential Medications

  • Gepants (e.g., ubrogepant, rimegepant)
  • Triptans (e.g., sumatriptan, rizatriptan)
  • NSAIDs (e.g., ibuprofen, naproxen)
  • Acetaminophen
  • Anti-nausea medications (e.g., metoclopramide, ondansetron)
  • Additional Options (Depending on individual needs) include Ditans (e.g., lasmiditan), Ergotamines (e.g., ergotamine, dihydroergotamine), Benadryl (Diphenhydramine)

2. Rescue therapies

  • Neuromodulation devices like Cefaly, gammaCore, Savi Dual, Relivion, Nerivio, or a simple TENS unit.
  • Lidocaine patches or sprays
  • Salonpas patches
  • Peppermint oil, Tiger balm or menthol-based creams
  • Acupressure tools for relieving tension
  • Sea-bands
  • Compact hand-held massager
  • Cooling ice packs
  • Heating pad (Optional)

These are just suggestions, and the most effective rescue therapies will vary depending on your individual preferences and migraine triggers. Experiment with different options to discover what works best for you.

Don't hesitate to consult your healthcare provider for personalized recommendations and guidance on incorporating these therapies into your migraine management plan.

3. Sensory management and comfort tools

Migraine attacks often come with heightened sensitivity to light, sound, and smell, along with nausea and discomfort. Sensory management and comfort tools can significantly alleviate these symptoms, creating a more bearable experience and promoting faster recovery.

  • Dark/Pink-tinted glasses
  • Portable green light lamp
  • Flux app or having a screen adaptor to help with lens glare
  • Earplugs or noise-canceling headphones
  • Weighted or heated blanket
  • Baseball cap to shield your eyes from overhead bright lights
  • Aromatherapy inhaler or essential oils
  • Noise-canceling headphones or earplugs
  • Comforting beverage like herbal tea (ginger, chamomile) or a soothing broth.
  • Fidget toys or stress balls
  • Comforting music or sounds
  • Darkroom tent
  • Water bottle, electrolytes, ginger snaps, ginger candy or chamomile tea, and nausea-friendly foods.

How to organize your desk toolkit

A well-organized migraine toolkit is essential for quick and easy access to relief when an attack strikes. Here's how to create a system that works for you:

  • Designated container: Choose a container that's easy to access and discreet enough for your workspace. A small storage bin, a cosmetic bag, or even a repurposed lunch bag can work well.
  • Compartmentalization: Use smaller pouches, bags, or boxes within your main container to separate different types of items. This can help you quickly locate medications, rescue therapies, or comfort items.
  • Labeling: Clearly label everything in your toolkit, especially medications and their expiration dates. This ensures you're using the right medication and that it's still effective.
  • Prioritize accessibility: Keep the most frequently used items within easy reach. For example, place your go-to pain reliever or rescue therapy in a front pocket or at the top of your container.
  • Regularly replenish: Check your toolkit periodically to ensure you have enough of each item and to replace any expired medications or depleted supplies.
  • Adapt to your workspace: If your workspace is limited, consider using a hanging organizer or a small drawer to store your toolkit.
  • Digital organization: In addition to a physical toolkit, create a digital version on your phone or computer. This could be a list of your medications, dosages, and instructions, as well as contact information for your doctor and emergency services.

Tips for a migraine-friendly workspace

Here's how you can create a supportive environment to optimize your productivity and well-being even during a migraine attack.

  • Lighting: Opt for adjustable lighting with dimmer switches or task lighting to control brightness levels. Consider using full-spectrum bulbs that mimic natural light.
  • Noise: Reduce noise pollution by wearing noise-canceling headphones or earplugs. If possible, position your desk away from high-traffic areas or noisy equipment.
  • Temperature: Dress in layers to adapt to fluctuating office temperatures. Keep a small fan or a personal heater at your desk for personalized comfort.
  • Ergonomics: Ensure your workspace is ergonomically designed to prevent strain and discomfort. Use a chair with good back support, adjust your monitor height to eye level, and keep your keyboard and mouse within easy reach.
  • Hydration and nutrition: Have healthy snacks like nuts, seeds, or fruits available to avoid dips in blood sugar.
  • Stress management: Practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing exercises or mindfulness meditation at your desk to reduce stress levels.
  • Scent-free environment: Avoid using strong perfumes or scented products.
  • Regular breaks: Get up and move around every hour to improve circulation and reduce muscle tension. Take short walks outdoors for fresh air and natural light exposure.

Creating a personalized action plan

Developing a written action plan can empower you to manage migraine attacks effectively at work. Here are the key components:

  • Recognize early warning signs such as fatigue, mood changes, or visual disturbances.
  • Outline your toolkit usage. Detail the steps you'll take when a migraine attack occurs, including which medications or therapies you'll use and in what order.
  • Inform your colleagues and supervisor about your migraine condition and your action plan. This will help them understand your needs and offer support during an attack.
  • Determine the criteria for seeking professional help, such as if your migraine attack is unusually severe, unresponsive to treatment, or accompanied by alarming symptoms.

Asking for workplace accommodations

You have the right to a safe and productive work environment, even with a chronic condition like migraine.

  • Know your rights: Research legal protections for employees with migraine in your area.
  • Start a conversation: Initiate a discussion with your supervisor or HR about your migraine diagnosis and its impact on your work.
  • Focus on solutions: Suggest specific accommodations that would help you manage your migraine at work (e.g., flexible hours, quiet workspace, adjustable lighting).
  • Provide documentation: If needed, obtain a doctor's note to support your request.
  • Be open to compromise: Collaborate with your employer to find mutually agreeable solutions.
  • Regularly communicate: Keep your employer updated on your needs and the effectiveness of the accommodations.

Your Neura provider and care coach can be invaluable allies in creating a personalized desk toolkit tailored to your specific needs. They can offer expert guidance on medications, rescue therapies, and lifestyle adjustments, empowering you to manage migraine attacks effectively at work.

Additionally, Neura's patient support team can assist with navigating workplace accommodations and paperwork like FMLA, ensuring you receive the support you need.

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Shruti Shivaramakrishnan
Neura Health Content & Social Media Manager
About the Author
Shruti is a chronic and mental illness advocate, sharing relatable insights as ChronicallyMeh on Instagram and her blog. With a global perspective, she candidly discusses the challenges of invisible illness, tackling topics like stigma, career breaks, and parenting with migraine. Shruti combines her empathy-driven marketing expertise with her passion for storytelling to help others feel less alone.

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