Migraine & Exercise

Regular exercise can reduce the frequency and severity of migraine attacks. Exercise is also a well-known migraine trigger. I explore my attempt to strike a balance in “Riverdance” — Migraine & Exercise on

This post is in response to today’s Migraine & Headache Awareness Month blog challenge question, Have you found a way to work exercise or movement into your life with migraine/headache disorder? What is it?


A Technique for Quieting Self-Criticism

Though I’m no public health expert, I feel well qualified to declare that self-criticism an epidemic among migraineurs. We blame ourselves for migraine attacks, berate ourselves for canceling plans, criticize ourselves for not keeping up with housekeeping. Actually, this negative self-talk seems pretty common among people with any kind of chronic illness. Toni Bernhard, author of the superb book How to Be Sick, recommends asking yourself what you would say to a friend who was criticizing herself in the same fashion.

In Befriend Yourself to Silence Self-Criticism, I wrote about her technique, then shared my experience of responding to my inner critic with kindness and compassion in An Experiment in Quieting My Inner Critic, both on That was a few months ago and was so positive and uplifting that I’m still doing it. Such a relief for my mental health — I can’t recommend the strategy highly enough!




Subverting the New Year’s Resolution

Instead of committing to change something about myself or my behaviors in 2013, then berating myself for not measuring up, I have made a new year’s “unresolution.” I’m going to try to embrace a simple truth: I’m doing the best I can. Learn about this unresolution on A New Year’s Unresolution.


My Latest Posts for “Shoulds,” Comparisons & Prodrome

Oops! I’ve forgotten to share my most recent posts with you. They’re just like what I write for The Daily Headache, just published somewhere else. My latest:

  • Wrestling With Self-Criticism and “Shoulds”: “I have that nagging voice that says, ‘You’re so much better than you were. Why aren’t you doing more?’ I try reminding myself that ‘better’ is far from great, but I still feel like I’m not doing enough.”
  • Migraine Perspective: No Two Migraineurs are Alike: “Human nature is to assume everyone else experiences something the same way we do. Like snowflakes, no two migraineurs are alike. Our migraine attacks differ, as do our responsiveness to meds, our support systems, and our ways of coping emotionally differ.”
  • Prodrome: Migraine Warning Signs: “Tearing is the most reliable warning sign for me. Sometimes it is accompanied by yawning, but not always. Frequent sighing is often a predictor, though I also sigh a lot when I’m physically tired and it can be hard to tell which is which.”

Take a look around while you’re there. is a tremendous resource for information and support. I feel fortunate to be part of the team of patient advocates and to work with the staff.


Dogs Could Alert Owners to Migraine Attacks Before People Notice Symptoms

Medical alert dogs are service dogs trained to warn a diabetic if their blood sugar drops or an epileptic if they have an oncoming seizure. Migraine is possibly another condition dogs can alert their owners to, according to a survey conducted on

Over 1000 of you completed this survey and 54 percent of you reported that you recognized a change in your dog’s behavior before or during the initial phases of your migraine. Most people reported their dog became excessively attentive before or at the beginning of a migraine. People often described their dog as becoming “clingy,” “glued to my side,” and “Velcro dog.” Intense staring, frantic licking, pawing, and whining were also frequently described. Interestingly, over half of those recognizing a migraine alerting behavior reported that this typically occurred before any migraine symptoms, usually within 2 hours of an impending migraine. And this link between a change in your dog’s behavior and a migraine occurred consistently for about 60 percent of people.

I frequently referred to my last dog as Velcro. I thought she damaged from being in a puppy mill, but maybe she was just warning me of impending migraine attacks. Since they were nearly constant, I wouldn’t be able to tell between her normal behavior and pre-migraine behavior.

Seriously, though, this could be significant for people with episodic migraine. Migraine abortives work best if they are taken as early as possible in the migraine attack. If you are able to correlate a change in your dog’s behavior and your migraines, your abortives could be more effective.

Does your dog behave differently before you have a migraine attack?