Migraine Relief Self-Care Tips

Migraine Headache

Although you may sometimes need medication for migraine relief, drugs can have undesirable side effects and often don't address underlying problems. Let's look at some self-care tips for relieving migraine headaches.

The first step is to consult your healthcare provider to know for sure you are having migraine headaches. Severe pain doesn't always mean it's a migraine. Also, you want to be sure you don't have another, more serious, underlying medical condition.

Common symptoms of a migraine headache are:

  • You feel pain, often severe or extreme, on only one side of your head.
  • You see auras (visual disturbances such as flashing lights or zigzagging lines) or experience numbness or paralysis 20 to 60 minutes before the head pain starts. 
  • You experience nausea and/or vomiting.
  • You are sensitive to light and noise.
  • You are unable to continue with your daily activities.

Massage Therapy For Migraine Relief

How can massage help with migraine headache pain? People who experience migraines generally have stiff, tender muscles in the back of the head, neck, and shoulders. These muscles may have trigger points that cause pain. Massage to release the trigger points can reduce the pain and tightness in the muscles.

Massage therapy is great for reducing muscle tension and relieving stress. Massage is most effective when received regularly, preferrably once a week until you are getting fewer headaches.

A few studies have shown that, at a minimum, massage therapy helps people who experience migraines sleep better and often significantly lessens headache pain. More about massage for migraine relief.

When receiving massage therapy, be aware that mild discomfort can occur with even light, very gentle pressure from the most qualified massage therapist. However, if the pain becomes intense, immediately tell the therapist to stop.

Relaxation Techniques For Migraine Relief

Relaxation techniques are safe with almost no side effects, although a few rare people might experience more anxiety rather than less. The following relaxation techniques can be done just about anywhere at any time:

  • Deep breathing: Simply breathe in through your nose as much as you comfortably can, letting your abdomen gently expand. Hold your breath for a few seconds, and then slowly exhale through your mouth. Repeat for three or four breaths several times a day.
  • Active relaxation: Starting with the muscles in your feet, tense and then relax each muscle group in the body until you reach your head.
  • Stretching is a way to loosen tight muscles and relieve stress.
  • Meditation and self-hypnosis are important relaxation techniques for relieving pain and stress. Meditation has four elements: a quiet environment, a point of focus such as a neutral word to help with concentration, being in a comfortable position, and an accepting attitude. Meditating one or two times a day for 10 to 20 minutes can relieve chronic stress and also increase your ability to tolerate stress.
  • Visualization involves using your mind’s eye to imagine how you can successfully deal with a stressful situation. Picture the stressful situation in your mind and then rehearse the outcome you want. You can also use visualization techniques to imagine a peaceful scene that you find relaxing.

More Migraine Relief Tips

Diet can trigger migraines for some people. Watch out for these foods:

  • Alcoholic drinks (especially red wine)
  • Foods containing the amino acid tyramine (such as, sour cream, yogurt, and aged cheeses)
  • Dairy products
  • Chocolate
  • Foods that contain additives (such as nitrites, aspartame, or MSG)

Other lifestyle factors that can trigger migraines include change in sleep habits, overuse of headache medicines, too much stress, and environmental factors such as:

  • Change in weather
  • High altitudes
  • Loud noises
  • Fluorescent or bright lights or bright sunlight
  • Strong odors

You might want to keep a food, lifestyle, and headache diary to see you if can find a correlation between these factors and your headaches.

Another possible trigger for migraines is emotional factors. Everything in life has an emotional component. If you want to address the emotional component of your migraines or any other condition, I highly recommend You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay.

Also see aromatherapy for migraines.

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