This year’s holiday season might look a little (or a lot) different, but it’s still sure to include tons of migraine triggers you’ll want to avoid. From eye-straining Zoom parties to stressful online shopping to noisy homeschooling, the most wonderful time of the year is full of triggers that can make things not-so-wonderful for migraine sufferers—to put it mildly.
We put together this guide to avoiding the most common holiday triggers so you can actually enjoy the season, no matter what that looks like for you.
1. Plan ahead
The best way to make sure your season isn’t stuffed with triggers is to plan as much as you can. You may not be taking your usual vacation this year, but even Zoom parties can be tiring. Make sure to leave time between obligations for you to rest and recharge. If it helps, let friends or family members know in advance if you’ll need to sign off early so you won’t feel guilty when it’s time to duck out.
And don’t stop with your schedule—make shopping lists, to-do lists, and grocery lists for important meals. An added benefit of having your gift list ready early is being able to take advantage of online sales, which also let you get your shopping done from the safety of home.
Of course, one important part of being prepared is having the treatment you need to deal with an attack as quickly as you can (and hopefully get back to having fun).
If you need help figuring out which medications are best for you, a licensed Cove doctor can help you determine the right acute or preventive treatment for your specific needs. Get started here.
2. Stick to your routine
It can be tempting to sleep in on days off from work or school, or stay up late to finish binge-watching a new show. Unfortunately, messing with your sleep schedule can bring on a migraine attack. Instead, pick a time to wake up and go to sleep every day and hold yourself to it.
If you have an exercise regimen, try not to let it lapse during the holidays. Getting regular exercise helps reduce stress, which in turn lowers migraine frequency (not to mention the many other ways workouts can benefit your health). But that doesn’t mean you have to stick to the same exercises you did pre-COVID. For example, if you don’t want to head outside for your usual jog, you could try yoga instead.
3. Watch what you eat (and drink)
We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but many holiday food favorites are potential triggers. That includes the processed meat, canned cranberry sauce, and boxed stuffing you might have on Thanksgiving, plus seasonal indulgences like chocolate and alcohol.
Want to make sure your meals don’t leave you in pain (aside from that well-earned stomachache)? Check out our guide to the most common food triggers.
Of course, avoiding attacks isn’t just about what you don’t eat and drink, it’s also about what you do. In this busy time of year, it’s not hard to get so wrapped up in whatever you’re doing that you accidentally skip a meal or forget to drink water (especially when your mouth is blocked by a mask). Stick to your normal eating routine as much as possible and carry snacks with you when you go out. And if you’re cooking more often, try to incorporate pain-safe foods to craft a healthy migraine diet.
4. Take care of yourself
When you’re spending so much time thinking about your loved ones, it’s easy to forget to make time for yourself. And stressors like planning, shopping, and hosting (even virtually!) can really pile up.
Stress is one of the most common migraine triggers, so be sure to set aside time for calming activities like yoga and meditation. Need some inspiration? You can find plenty of ideas in our guide to stress management.
Even though triggers may seem to be everywhere during the holiday season, you can take steps to minimize their impact. Sticking to a not-too-busy schedule, maintaining a healthy migraine diet, and having the medication you need on hand can help you lessen the chances of an attack and quickly relieve the ones that do happen.
The information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely upon the content provided in this article for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.