Manhattan Health Education School - Swedish Institute - New York, NY

How to Keep Stress at Bay to Keep Migraines Away

Understanding Stress to Prevent Migraines - Swedish Institute - New York, NY

Let’s face it: stress happens to the best of us. If you’re among the 37 million Americans who suffer from the throbbing pain of migraines, you know all too well how stress can trigger these debilitating headaches. In fact, nearly 70 percent of migraine sufferers claim that stress is the primary cause that brings on their migraines.

So, what are the best ways to prevent stress? How can we keep stress, and risk of migraines, at bay? First, let’s talk about what causes a migraine and some of its symptoms.

What is a migraine?

A migraine (or vascular headache) occurs when blood vessels in the head swell and constrict. Migraine sufferers will describe the pain as a constant pounding and throbbing which can last anywhere from four to 72 hours. Other symptoms may include:

  • Light sensitivity
  • Sound sensitivity
  • Pain on one side of the head
  • Nausea
  • Blurred vision
  • Vomiting

Identifying stressors

We all experience stress differently, but it’s how we react and respond to it that determines its effects on our well-being. It may be easier said than done when it comes to taking things in stride but having the right coping skills can make all the difference in the long run. Here are some tips to pinpoint what may be triggering your migraines:

  • Keep a journal or migraine headache diary
  • Record your feelings, emotions and events that surrounded each migraine
  • Record what you ate and drank that day
  • Evaluate and reflect on each situation to pinpoint the types of situations that may be triggering your migraines

Managing stress

Prolonged stress can lead to health issues, including headaches and migraines, among other risks. And sometimes the headache may not take hold until after the stressful situation has passed. This “let-down period” can hit you out of nowhere and keep you down at the worst possible times (like on a weekend after a stressful work week or during vacation time when you’re finally relaxed). So, what are the best ways to manage your stress before a migraine strikes? Here are some strategies to help you cope with stress:

  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Maintain a healthy diet
  • Exercise
  • Engage in a hobby that you enjoy
  • Spend time with friends and others that bring you joy
  • Practice a spiritual routine
  • Use essential oils, such as peppermint and lavender
  • Set realistic expectations

Migraine Prevention with Massage

When a migraine strikes, relief can’t come fast enough.

Massage therapy has proven to be an effective hands-on approach in the reduction of stress and the treatment of migraines. Massage therapy can help bring relief, as it…

  • Eases and relaxes muscle tension in the head, shoulders and neck
  • Relieves pressure on nerves and blood vessels
  • Improves blood circulation, relieving pain
  • Reduces anxiety and stress
  • Helps maintain emotional balance

Other natural and holistic remedies include:

  • Vitamins and supplements such as Magnesium, Vitamin D and Vitamin B2
  • Herbal treatments such Feverfew and Butterbur
  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Acupuncture
  • Tai chi
  • Hypnotherapy

April is ‘Stress Awareness Month.’ Are you ready to live a stress-free life and kick those migraines to the curb? Now is the time to face those stressors head on and start enjoying the life you were meant to live.

Contact us today to learn more about Swedish Institute’s Massage Therapy program.