As much as I love celebrating the holiday season, it can often feel like navigating an obstacle course when living with chronic migraine. This time of year fills my heart in so many ways, while at the same time, the combination of triggers that accompany travel, increased activity, and irregular routines puts a serious strain on my already sensitive migraine brain.
Through the years, I’ve learned that embracing a mindful, compassionate approach to the holidays reduces some of the stress of managing my pain, even when my attacks are out of my control. I hope these strategies, which are integral parts of my “migraine holiday toolkit,” can help you, too.
1. Communicate in advance with friends and family.
Setting realistic expectations about what my body needs over the holidays is one of the best gifts I can give to myself and my loved ones. Getting on the same page before events–explicitly communicating my activity limits, dietary needs, or boundaries–prepares others to better support me and eases some of the worry leading up to big days. It’s been difficult to learn to speak up for myself, but pushing through that discomfort and engaging in kind, clear, honest dialogue about my migraine needs has been one of the most powerful ways to improve my holiday experience.
2. Practice trading your “I’m sorry” for “thank you.”
It is so easy to find myself over-apologizing when migraine limits how I want to show up for others. However, I’ve learned that saying “I’m sorry” for things out of my control (like migraine attacks) isn’t as helpful as it might seem. Instead of apologizing, I try to replace “I’m sorry” with “thank you for understanding.” This subtle switch redirects disappointment away from me as a person, and toward my symptoms of migraine where it rightfully belongs…