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Real Self-Care Routines That Migraine Sufferers Swear By

The pain, the sensitivity, the nausea. Nothing hurts more than a wallop of a migraine. After an attack, all migraine sufferers want to do is get back to a place of normalcy and peace of mind, literally. One way to help ease and prevent the pain is adopting a self-care routine that helps ease and prevent those heavy-duty migraine attacks. While these rituals might not be a cure to the migraines themselves, they can definitely help alleviate and prevent the attacks before they hit.

Keep on moving

“The less active someone is, the tighter their muscles are and the more likely they will experience headaches,”Dr. Michele Renee, D.C., M.Ac., Director of Integrative Care at Northwestern Health Sciences University, tells SheKnows. To relieve this pain, she recommends movement. Whether it’s going for a run or a walk, Dr. Renee says it’s important to keep the body and mind moving.  Yoga is another activity that relieves headaches and migraines. “Not only does this mindfulness practice decrease stress, but it also keeps the body moving to eliminate tension.”

Stay hydrated

“The brain is very sensitive to dehydration. Ensuring adequate hydration can help prevent headaches that turn into migraines,” Melissa Macher, RD, LD, and owner of Grateful Meal Nutrition, tells SheKnows. “At a minimum, most people benefit from at least 64 oz. of fluid daily (the old eight 8 oz. cups per day), but some need about half of their body weight in oz. of fluids daily.” For example someone that weighs 150 lbs. could drink 75 oz. of fluids. Water is always best, says Macher, but other fluids including caffeinated beverages count too. However, Macher notes that caffeinated beverages are challenging for those with migraines as some report the caffeine helps and others feel it makes their migraines worse.

A key indicator in knowing if you’re getting enough fluids, according to Macher, is your urine color. “The darker (and smellier) the urine, the more dehydrated you are. I recommended my patients aim to keep their urine looking like watered-down lemonade.” Though she does point out certain groups of people like those with heart failure or kidney disease that should look to their physicians for hydration recommendations.

Sleep more

Probably one of the best self-care tips: more shut eye.

“People with migraines are more likely to have poorer quality of sleep so it’s important to develop self-care routines that help you improve your sleep,” says Dr. Brian Wind,  PhD clinical psychologist. “Take a warm bath or read a book before sleeping. Some people also like to do an Epsom salt bath to relax before bedtime.”

Incorporate acupuncture

“When you have a migraine, there is a blockage in the free flow Qi, resulting in tension,” Elizabeth Martin,  an acupuncturist and Chinese Medicine practitioner, tells SheKnows. ”When an acupuncture needle is inserted into the body, it sends a signal to the brain to release endorphins- the body’s natural painkiller. Acupuncture also constricts blood vessels and releases vasodilators, which decreases cerebral blood pressure – helping with headaches and migraines that stress the body.”

According to Martin, migraines are typically associated with the liver and gallbladder channels, since these channels run mostly around the head and are responsible for the free flow of Qi. “Working on any of the key four points associated with those channels will help relieve migraines because they help to reduce inflammation, release endorphins, and regulate the flow of Qi and the channels that go to the head.

Chill out to essential oils

Incorporating the usage of essential oils in your daily routine can help significantly to reduce migraine problems. “Oils such as peppermint and lavender are a source of finding relief as they help block pain transmission, desensitize pain fibers, and reduce inflammation,” Alessandra Kessler, a certified holistic health coach, tells SheKnows.  “You can even combine the two oils for better results.”

However, specific guidelines need to be followed when using any essential oils — and especially if you have migraines, you want to make sure you avoid any scents that can give you strong reactions or trigger an episode. So, be sure to consult a doctor before adding them to your routine. 

Add supplements to your routine

Chances are those who experience headaches need to focus on their diet and supplements, says Dr. Renee. “Increasing nutrients, such as magnesium, Coenzyme Q-10, and riboflavin (a B vitamin) can help minimize pain.” However she cautions that before stocking up on supplements, be sure to consult with a holistic practitioner to make sure you are making the wisest and safest selections for you. Bonus tip – these vitamins and minerals can also be found in common household foods like dark chocolate, leafy greens seeds and nuts, meat, fatty fish and legumes.

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