A migraine is a specific type of intense headache that often affects one side of the head and brings with it pulsating pain along with increased sensitivity to sound and light.
As far as pain management is concerned, there are two kinds of strategies to consider:
- how to ease your discomfort when you already have a migraine;
- how to prevent the onset of migraines in the future.
Understanding both aspects is what can effectively help you stop migraines for good.
Remedies for stopping a migraine: relieving pain in the here and now
Essential oils & herbal treatments
The herb feverfew is a popular remedy for the treatment of migraines. You can find feverfew in ready-to-go capsules that you can swallow with water like a traditional, over-the-counter medicine or you can brew your own feverfew tea by adding boiling water to crushed up feverfew leaves.
When shopping for feverfew products, make sure to get an all-natural option that doesn’t have any unwanted fillers. You can likely find dried feverfew leaves or a great capsule-form supplement at your local health food store or online.
Commonly used for soothing tension headaches and stress-related migraines, peppermint oil is a great relaxer and is considered to be able to alter pain perception. You can apply a few drops to your temples or across your forehead, as desired, or you can pour a few drops onto a wet washcloth and then drape the fabric over your face with your eyes closed.
Depending on your particular circumstances, a warm washcloth or a cool washcloth may feel more soothing so go ahead and try both throughout the course of your pain to determine which method suits you better. You might alternatively enjoy using a lavender oil, which can provide similar pain-relieving effects for some sufferers.
Massage therapy can be an incredibly effective way to relieve tension and relax the muscles, helping your migraine pain to soften. Sometimes your body is so tender to the touch, though, that having someone else try to give you a massage is just too painful when you’re actually in the midst of an intense migraine.
Even if you rub your own fingers over your skin so that you can be in complete control of how much pressure is applied, consider rubbing your neck and shoulders along with the back of your head and your temples. Keep the massage as light as you need it to be for comfort’s sake and, if it’s still causing too much agony, stop for now and feel free to try again later to see if your pain has shifted enough to benefit more from a massage at that point.
Massage can reduce tightness, increase blood flow and minimize migraine pain. You can also look into acupuncture as an alternative medicine route for combating migraines.
Silence, dark & rest
Because migraines often increase your sensitivity to sound and light, being around other people or in a lit room can continue to aggravate a painful migraine.
To help stop the pain, go ahead and excuse yourself from whatever company might be around and lay down in a dark room. If there’s too much pressure on your head when you lay down flat, use a few pillows to prop up your neck comfortably while providing support. Sleep off the migraine, if you can.
Obviously, if you’re at work or somewhere else where sneaking off to a dark bedroom isn’t an option, then it’s infinitely harder to find a spot where you can get some real relief. Go ahead and just take a ten minute break, finding the most comfortable spot you can where you’ll be away from others and able to close your eyes. If feasible, you might benefit from going to a rooftop or an otherwise secluded yet outdoor place to get a fresh breeze.
Strategies for preventing migraines: stopping future pain before it even starts
Managing your stress
Anxiety, depression and chronic stress can all contribute to the occurrence and frequency of migraines and headaches. If life events have recently increased the number of migraines that you usually suffer from, consider talking with a counselor or other medical professional about your situation and feelings. If you suspect clinical depression is something you suffer from, think about prescription or alternative treatments to tackle your mental health condition head on.
Emotional disorders can take a drastic toll on our bodies, migraines sometimes being only one small part of the pain we’re experiencing overall. There is no need to feel bad about getting help and addressing your concerns with professionals who understand how to aid you back to a good state.
If you’re dealing with a less clinical version of depression that doesn’t require the help of medical specialists, you may benefit from mentally getting back to the basics by cutting out of your life people and things that bring unnecessary drama and weigh you down.
Say no to toxic relationships and minimize the number of commitments you have from extracurricular activities. Count your blessings and savor even the little beauties of life like a gorgeous sunrise or less traffic one day on the way to work.
Turn to your spiritual beliefs for hope, trusting that you can get through this stretch of life and that good things are to come. Positive thinking may not solve everything now, but reducing your stress level and regaining control in life can have a huge impact for good when it comes to minimizing the onset of migraines and tension headaches.
Watching your diet
For some, eating certain foods can actually trigger migraines. Keeping a food journal can help you begin to recognize patterns between when your migraines occur and what you’ve eaten lately that could possibly have contributed to your head pain.
Specific items like chocolate, red wine, gluten and citrus fruits can set a migraine off, but broader categories like sugar and fat can also negatively affect how your head feels. In general, a healthy and well-balanced diet that’s based on fruits, vegetables and lean proteins is the safest solution for avoiding food-related migraines.
For migraine prevention, part of watching your diet means watching the clock and not skipping meals even when you’re busy and it’s inconvenient to take a lunch break. Going without food can negatively impact your state of being and headaches are a common side effect of fasting.
When you’re on the go, make sure to keep an energy bar or a bag of nuts in your purse so you have a quick source of protein and calories to keep you steady. If you’re going to be away from a drinking fountain or other water source, be sure to lug around your own water bottle so you can stay hydrated and well.