How To Deal with Headaches and Migraines (What Helped Me)

This post will be a little different from my usual ones. A few months ago I put a poll on my Instagram asking whether you would like to know how I deal with headaches and migraines, and the response was surprisingly high, so I decided to make a whole post about this theme. I will share a few tips that helped me a lot, some are just basic (eliminating stress, not to over-exhaust your body, etc.) but really important. I have been getting headaches and migraines since high school, I had done several tests but nothing seemed to be wrong. You those who don't know - a migraine is not just a bad headache like some people think, it's much worse. Different people have different experiences, but some migraines come with fatigue, blurry vision... Some are "mild" and some are bad to the point you can't even stand up from the bed. I got awful migraines in high school but through the years they got much better. I also finally got some proper medications that work better. Funnily enough, so many people have these types of problems but most doctors (at least here in Slovenia) hardly know what a migraine is and they don't have a single clue how to treat it. As far as I know, there are a lot of different medications for migraines but I don't even know if we have them here in Slovenia (and yes, the regular pain killers, even the strongest ones, do nothing with a migraine). That's why I also wanted to write this post, when I started getting migraines I didn't have a clue how to help myself, so I want to help others that are struggling with the same problem :).

First I will talk through some of the tips that I do to try to avoid a migraine. The biggest tip is to live healthy, which is an obvious one but the hardest. Try to have a regular sleeping schedule and try to sleep for around 8 hours. Then you should also be eating clean. There are a lot of foods that can trigger a migraine, google them and keep a food diary to see which ones trigger your migraine. I didn't notice any particular food that would trigger my migraines. My biggest tip is to not skip meals. I am used to eating a lot, I can't eat a lot at once but I do eat several meals throughout the day. Try to not eat much sugar, try eating fruits in-between meals if you need a boost of energy.

One more thing to consider is caffeine. I read a lot about caffeine triggering migraines. I can't say much about that because I don't drink coffee. I tried drinking tea a couple of times but I hate the taste and I discovered it actually makes me sick. The same goes for energy drinks. I tried drinking them but they made me sick. I actually feel like I'm hangover when I drink them. If it works for you, drink it, but keep in mind that it is a trigger by most migraines. 

Also, through the years I realized I'm highly sensitive to lights. If you get migraines try to avoid flashy, bright lights and maybe get some tests done for your eyes. One more thing I'm highly sensitive to is the scents. Most of the days I don't wear perfume anymore because it can trigger migraines. If I do wear it, it's one spritz and that's it. 

A big factor for me is also stress, try to simplify your life. I stress a lot, I'm a perfectionist and I just can't stand still not even for a minute. But anything that you can do to simplify your life will make a difference. Try to take breaks and relax, maybe try to exercise. Trust me, is better to take a break and have something done a few hours late than to get a migraine and being unable to do it for three days or more (migraines usually last for up to three days, if more, then it's not a migraine)I'm an overthinker, so for me it really helps if I write down a to-do list, if I don't I'm constantly thinking about what I have to do and also forgetting stuff. Maybe even do a list of things that you must do and a list of things that you don't have to do right away. Also, try to do the biggest and most important one first. My mind always focuses on that one and I won't have peace if I don't do it even though I crossed out 10 other tasks for that day.

Another huge factor can be your menstrual cycle, some women get migraines just before starting their period but I haven't made the connection for now. Still, one of the biggest differences I made in my life, was that I stopped taking birth control pills. At this point, most people know that these pills are not good for the body. I knew it for a long time but it was convenient and I was scared of change, so I put it off for the longest time. When I was still on the pill I was getting headaches every single day and they did not feel normal, they felt like I had some kind of pressure behind my eyes that hurt a lot and I was constantly tired. I have stopped taking the pill in October or November 2019 and I feel so much better. I still get headaches here or there but they are not nearly as severe as they were before and I usually know why I got them (I didn't drink/eat/sleep a lot, a lot of stress...). Just stop with the pill, you have other protective methods where you don't harm your body. Some people also reported they didn't get migraines at all anymore when they stopped the pill but I still got a few. I can say I don't get them as much anymore. I usually had about 4-5 migraines a year but I haven't had one since last May (knock on the wood).

Try to incorporate some vitamins and supplements into your life. I started with B12 and magnesium, now on a regular basis, I take magnesium, vitamins C, B12, and D. All of these, really helped me. On the photos, I showed some brands that I like to use. I like Magnesium Diasporal, Valens and Mivolis (this is from DM, their vitamin C is very cheap but good). I also used to use BetterYou sprays of vitamin D and B12 but Valens's are cheaper and just as good. I got the recommendations for all of these from Ana (@antiageanasan on Instagram). I do recommend you have some tests done to check your levels of vitamins before you take these.

The biggest difference was when I started using magnesium. I heard about Magnesium Diasporal via Ana and I started using it a few years back. You have different versions - Direct where you can directly sip the powder into your mouth, a normal one that you mix into water and a Depot version that also contains some other vitamins. I like to use all, it depends on how much time I have. If I get home late, I take the Depot or Direct version and if I have more time, I mix the normal one into water (it's almost like drinking Cedevita). I have more about Diasporal magnesium under my Insta stories). At this point, I just want to say that a pack of normal and a pack of Direct Magnesium Diasporal has been sent to me but I wasn't obligated to post anything on my blog. Of course, you can use other brands of magnesium but make sure it's good quality.

The last thing is just to try and keep a migraine diary. When you get a migraine, write down when and where it happened, how it happened, what do you think triggered it, how long it lasted, did you get any aura symptoms (aura is something some migraine sufferers get before the actual migraine, it is different for everyone - blind spots, numbness, fatigue...), what did you do, did it help, also write down everything you remember that you ate in the last three days. Write down everything and anything that you remember and once you have some data you can see how often you get the migraines and maybe connect them to your menstrual cycle or a particular food or any other trigger. 

And now some tips for what to do when you actually get a migraine. I take magnesium on daily basis but once I feel a migraine starting I do twice the recommended dose, as well as the vitamin C. Try to always have an ice pack in the freezer and keep it on the side of the forehead where the pain is or on the neck. Turn off all the lights and make a room completely dark, eliminate the noise too. I'm not sure about the next tip, I have read that salt can also trigger migraines but on the other hand I've also read that the migraine can happen if the body has a lack of salt. I'm not a doctor but the first one seems more believable but my body always craves salty food really bad when I have a migraine. You can find a lot of tips on the internet (putting your legs into hot water and hands into cold, pressure point massage, and lots more) but none really worked for me. What I think worked wonders by me: first of all, quitting the pill and close second are all of the tips that I just talked about.

Do you have any more tips? Or more questions that I should answer? Thank you for reading!