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Mindfulness: An Amazing Tool for Coping With Migraine

“[T]echniques based on the Buddhist teaching of mindfulness have reliably been the most effective, helpful coping strategies I’ve used in my 25 years with chronic migraine. While plenty of people approach Buddhism as a religion, I think of it more as psychology; a collection of wise insights to help people live their fullest lives.”

Migraine & Mindfulness — “Bruce Almighty,” my favorite of the posts I’ve written for Migraine and Headache Awareness Month is now up on Migraine.com. No matter what your religious or spiritual bent is, mindfulness is an amazing tool, not only for coping with migraine, but with all of life’s stresses. To make this wonderful technique accessible to everyone, I focus on a secular approach to mindfulness in the beginning of the post, then include links to other incredible leaders who are more religious in their teachings.

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Stress, Migraine & Other Headaches

While some folks debate whether stress is a trigger for migraine, tension-type or other headaches, research and anecdotal experiences satisfies me that there’s a connection*. Even if it’s not directly related, stress can induce other headache triggers, like not getting enough sleep and eating poorly. Besides, reducing stress is something that nearly everyone can benefit from because, well, life is happier and easier that way.

After feeling relaxed all week, I’m a tense kitty today. Lucky for me, checking Bloglines turned up a ton of recent blog posts on the topic.

May favorite is how to ensure that your life is stressful. This tongue-in-cheek post got my attention much more than the usual tips on reducing stress, which are so widely distributed that they’re easy to overlook. It really made me think about specific thoughts and behaviors that contribute to stress.

The fifth tip, be more and have more, hit me upside the head. I have half of this one beat as I’m trying to have less in my life; the other half I do all too well.

When does trying to make yourself a better person cross over to being too hard on yourself? For me it was a long, long time ago. Realistically, I can only improve on one or two faults at a time, but I’m forever thinking about all the others I want to “fix.” All that leads me to do is berate myself for all my negative attributes. Hmm. . . .

In the more typical list format, the American Lung Association suggests 52 stress relievers, which they claim are proven. Each one is only a couple sentences long so they’re easy to digest. Some that caught my eye:

  • Take more time between tasks to relax. Schedule a realistic day.
  • “Worry about the pennies, and the dollars will take care of themselves.” Pay attention to the details in front of you.
  • Do one thing at a time. When you are working on one thing, don’t think about everything else you have to do.
  • Simplify, simplify, simplify.
  • Forgive people and events. Accept that we live in an imperfect world.

I’m going to spend the afternoon trying to figure out how to stop nagging myself. I have no doubt that this will increase my already high stress level.

[via Lifehacker & Lifehack]

*Note, 01/19/07: The ACHE article that I link to in the first sentence says that stress is a headache trigger. My sloppy paragraph and ill-placed link imply otherwise. While some people argue that stress is not a headache trigger, they are a small minority. In fact, I’ve never seen that argument made by a health care provider.

So, yes, stress is a headache trigger, but it is not the cause of the headache. (You can read about the distinction in the fourth paragraph of this post.) Thanks to Dr. Peterson for pointing out my mistake.