Migra Well

Understanding Stress and Migraines

Stress is a common migraine trigger for 70-80% of people with migraines. Managing stress is not about eliminating it completely, but about altering your body's response to it. Behavioral treatments for migraines can be quite effective and are often recommended as part of a comprehensive treatment plan. Explore evidence-based stress management techniques below that can help mitigate the frequency and severity of migraines.

Stress Management for Migraines

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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that helps patients recognize and change detrimental thought patterns and behaviors. For migraine sufferers, CBT aims to reduce stress and improve pain management through structured sessions with a trained therapist. Studies have shown that CBT can lead to significant improvements in migraine frequency and stress levels.

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Biofeedback: Listening to Your Body

Biofeedback teaches you to control physiological functions that are typically automatic. Sensors measure body functions such as heart rate, muscle tension, and skin temperature, while a therapist helps you learn how to adjust these functions consciously. Studies show that biofeedback can be especially helpful for reducing chronic headache or headache related to medication overuse.

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Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a program that combines mindfulness meditation and yoga can be a beneficial tool in managing migraines. Several studies have found that an 8 week course of mindfulness, mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), can be especially helpful in reducing migraine disability as well as improving outlook and mood in those who completed the course.

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Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, and diaphragmatic or deep breathing exercises can be effective tools in the migraine management arsenal. These techniques help in reducing muscle tension and calming the mind, leading to a lower incidence of stress-triggered migraines. See how to practice progressive muscle relaxation  below.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR)

The following is a short PMR exercise that can be daily which has been shown to improve stress levels and migraine.
This technique involves tensing and then releasing different muscle groups in your body.
1.    Find a Comfortable Position: Sit or lie down in a comfortable position. Close your eyes and take a few moments to breathe deeply and relax.
2.    Focus on Your Feet: Begin by focusing on your feet. Tense the muscles in your feet by curling your toes and arching your feet. Hold this tension for about 5 seconds, then slowly release. Notice the sensation of relaxation.
3.    Move to Your Calves: Next, tense the muscles in your calves. Hold this tension for about 5 seconds, then slowly release. Again, notice the sensation of relaxation.
4.    Move Up Your Body spending 5 seconds or so tensing and then relaxing your thighs, buttocks, stomach, chest, hands, arms, shoulders, neck, and face.
5.    Relax Your Entire Body: Once you've gone through all the muscle groups, take a few moments to relax your entire body. Notice the sensation of relaxation and calmness throughout your body.
6.    Return to Your Day: When you're ready, slowly open your eyes and return to your day, carrying this sense of relaxation with you.
Remember, it's normal to find this exercise challenging at first. With practice, it will become easier, and you may find it a helpful tool for managing stress and potentially reducing migraines.

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Stress management for migraine relief is about finding the right balance of techniques that work for you. By combining therapies like CBT, biofeedback, MBSR, and relaxation exercises, you can create a robust plan to manage your migraines effectively.

Begin with one technique, such as CBT or biofeedback, and incorporate it into your routine. Add other methods like MBSR and relaxation techniques gradually. Consistency is key – regular practice can enhance the benefits over time. It's also essential to tailor these techniques to your personal preferences and lifestyle.