I'm a chronic migraine sufferer — here are all the things that I've found work for me
I get headaches pretty frequently. I actually get them frequently enough that even when I don’t have them, I have anxiety about when I’ll get them next — and usually, I get worked up enough over the idea of a headache that I end up getting one, anyway. I’ve dealt with chronic headaches (often migraines) since I was in my early teenage years, and I’ve tried nearly everything under the sun to fix them. I’ve tried multiple migraine medications, home remedies, and I even tried acupuncture briefly (admittedly not long enough to give it a chance — I might give it another try soon). Over the years and my many, many trial and error experiments, I’ve found a lot of things that don’t work for me, as well as things that do. Here are some things that I have found ease my anxiety, as well as my pain:
It’s been proven that magnesium (as well as a few other supplements) help to relieve the pain of headaches, as well as prevent them altogether if you take them regularly. This website lists supplements that help migraine-sufferers, as well as a few different brands that offer combination pills of these supplements — I take MigRelief, and find it to be super helpful.
Drink a lot of water.
Okay, this one seems obvious. But one of the major signs of dehydration is a headache, and to fix it, all you have to do is drink water. When I’m feeling headachey, I’ll often down as much water as I can — it often helps, at the very least, to calm me down.
I know. You’re probably thinking, “Won’t this give me a headache?” And the answer is that yes, it will, at first — so do it slowly, and in stages. But after I quit caffeine, I found that my headaches were less frequent. I think that so many of us are using caffeine as a crutch, and are caught in the cycle of feeling like we need it, then crashing, getting a headache, and basically taking it as medicine all day long, and that’s not good for anyone.
Massage: either self-massage, from a friend or partner, or even from a tennis ball.
Sometimes when nothing else is working, massage can be a lifesaver. If I am feeling up to it, I’ll do self-massage, or sometimes I’ll ask my partner to press the pressure points where it hurts the most. I’ve also found that lying down on a tennis ball, so that it’s either pressing on the back of my neck or on my temple, is super effective.
Make sure you’re using the right pillow.
Depending on whether you sleep on your side, back, or stomach, you’ll need a different pillow. I was using a pillow that was way too flat for a side-sleeper, and my neck was bent too much — I was waking up with a headache every day due to neck pain. I tried out a bunch of different pillows and finally found one that gave my neck proper support and it made all the difference.
Use a bite guard.
Another thing that I was doing wrong with regard to sleep: I was grinding my teeth all night and doing nothing about it. I knew I did it for years, but just kind of…let it happen. Each morning I woke up with jaw pain, but I just kind of assumed that was how my life was — I didn’t really connect that this jaw pain was also connected to my migraines. I talked to my dentist about it and she said I should try out one of the bite guards from the pharmacy or Amazon before opting for the expensive, custom made one. I ordered this one online, and it works perfectly.
These glasses will help you look at your screen without getting a blinding headache.
Okay, these glasses are super cool. See Concept’s glasses are not prescription glasses, so if you need glasses to see, you’ll have to wear contacts. These glasses “filter out 40% of the potentially harmful blue light emitted by LED screens, thus protecting your eyes from digital eye strain and helping you sleep better at night.” I wear them at work when I feel myself getting a headache but have a long day of editing ahead of me that I need to get through. They’re also super cute. You can purchase them online from the MoMA store in two different styles, both available in a range of colors.
A strange remedy for when nothing else is working.
I can’t remember where I heard this, but whenever nothing else is helping (even medicine), this is my go-to cure. If you have access to a sink you can sit on, fill it with hot water and stick your feet in it. Then, rest your forehead on your knees and put an ice pack on the back of your neck. Relax as much as you can. I’m not sure the science behind this exactly, but something about the differing temperatures at your extremities helps your blood flow where it needs to go, and it’s always helped me tremendously.
Make a DIY essential oil roller!
My last tip is pretty involved, but it smells good and it’s kinda fun to make. I bought some empty glass roller bottles on Amazon, and filled them with a mixture of fractionated coconut oil (which is used to be a carrier oil, or an oil meant to dilute other oils), magnesium oil (already proven to be good for headaches!), lavender oil, and peppermint oil — both also good for pain relief. Whenever I’m feeling a migraine come on, I rub the oil on my temples. It’s not enough to completely dull the pain, but it helps until I can get home and take the medication I need to completely knock it out — plus, it smells fantastic.
Have any tips? Feel free to send them in.