Managing Migraine During the Holiday Season

holidays
Migraine
November 28, 2022
November 21, 2022
4
minutes
Managing Migraine During the Holiday Season

The holidays are a special time of the year that we look forward to in celebration of traditions with family, friends, and coworkers.  Although this is a time that is busier and can be unpredictable, and more likely to create change in our environment, routine, and diet. In addition, stress can increase around holiday gatherings, travel, and shopping. These changes can trigger and impact the lives of those who experience migraines. Here are some tips to help enjoy this next holiday season with friends and family.

Plan Ahead

Use a calendar to your benefit, go over and prioritize what needs to be completed each week. Plan shopping and travel plans in advance. Create a gift list earlier on to avoid stress around last minute gift giving. If possible shopping online can be done in the comfort of your home avoiding exposure to many triggers. In addition, most stores offer curbside pick up.

Create flexibility in your schedule and avoid packing your schedule with too many activities. This will allow time to rest and recharge especially if you are experiencing a migraine episode. Communicate with friends and family earlier on what you may need. It is also okay to set expectations prior to the event if you need to leave early.

Traveling and seeing friends and family can create added stress during the holidays. Allow time for yourself, this may mean scheduling in 30 minutes for practices to help with stress management. Use this time for relaxation, such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, or a nice quick walk outdoors. This can also be a time to complete a fun hobby of yours as well.

Be sure to stick to your routine, make time for your exercise program and continue a consistent sleep schedule.  Strive for at least 8 hours of sleep per night.

Managing Triggers

Be sure to watch what you eat and drink.

Food triggers may vary per individual. While some may not be sensitive to certain foods, it is important to be aware of the potential food triggers that can cause a migraine. Known triggers include caffeine, chocolate, alcohol, aged cheese, processed meats, artificial sweeteners, nuts, and foods containing MSG. Speak to the host of the holiday event to find out the menu ahead of time. If there is still time to make changes to the planned dishes you can communicate what you need to avoid or can decide to eat beforehand.  

Swings in blood sugar and dehydration can be triggers for headaches.  Be sure to not skip meals. Take snacks on the go in case needed. Consumption of alcohol may be more than usual during the holidays. Be sure to avoid it if possible or consume in moderation. In addition, caffeinated beverages may increase to keep up with the busier schedule. This also should be consistent and limited. Balance the consumption of caffeine and alcohol with adequate amounts of water. Drink plenty of water throughout the day,  at least 64 ounces is recommended.

In addition, the holidays can bring on more exposure to triggers such as flashing lights, loud noises, and odors. Try to avoid this in your home, do not introduce holiday scents if this is a sensitivity for you. Certain triggers may be difficult to avoid when attending a holiday event, have your rescue medications with you in case needed. Taking your abortive treatment earlier on in the migraine episode will allow for you to not miss the event and enjoy with your loved ones.

Avoiding potential triggers can be challenging, and at times a preventive treatment may be considered. A headache specialist can assist with finding the right medications for you. Discussing a treatment plan with your provider prior to the holidays can help with the worry of migraine and avoid the debilitating symptoms associated with your migraine attacks. This will also allow for some peace of mind and reassurance that you have treatment options available when needed and can continue to enjoy the activities planned during the holiday season.

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Jasmine Bhasin, PA-C
Jasmine Bhasin is a Physician Assistant specializing in headache medicine, based in the San Francisco Bay Area.
About the Author
Jasmine Bhasin is a Physician Assistant specializing in headache medicine, based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Prior to joining Neura Health, she worked in the Department of Neurology at UW (University of Wisconsin) Health where she specialized in migraine and headache disorders. Jasmine began her career in family practice and aesthetics where she adopted an interest in alternative medicine. She continues to focus patient care based on preventative medicine with a holistic approach, where treatment plans are incorporated with non-pharmacologic management such as lifestyle changes, alternative medicine, physical therapy, and supplements. She also performs botox injections, supraorbital nerve blocks, occipital nerve blocks, and trigger point injections. Jasmine completed her undergraduate degree in Human Development at UC San Diego. She went on to receive her Master of Science in Physician Assistant studies from Western University.

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