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Migraine Savvy Monthly Newsletter Issue 5 July 30th 2011 Positive Thinking for Migraines?
July 30, 2011

Positive Thinking and Pain – The Connection

July 30th, 2011 – Issue #005 – Intellectual

Welcome to Part 3 of my 6 Part series of aspects to cover for Migraine health and well being.

Physical – Emotional – Intellectual – Social – Spiritual – Financial

Editors Note: I don’t know just how your migraines affect your life overall, but my long term nasty chronic ones have resulted in a lot of fear and anxiety and some extremely negative thoughts that accompany my pain episodes. Cognitive Behavior Therapy provides some tips to help us cope more effectively with the negative and fearful thoughts that come up around those challenging migraine episodes.

Thinking positively, for me, has not resulted in finding any reduction in the frequency or severity of my migraines but has retrained my mind towards a more realistic outlook and as a result has created an increased sense of inner peace. There are so many things to consider and so little space, so let’s get started!

Part 3 - Intellectual

I prefer to look at it like this – helpful or unhelpful ways of thinking about pain. Are your thoughts around your attacks helping you to cope or are they making you more stressed and anxious? In the book Manage Your Pain by Nicholas, Malloy, Tonkin and Beeston, they say “in fact, a little worry keeps us safe from taking unwise risks” but that it will eventually lead to unwise decisions once panic sets in. They state that when worry from real or imagined fears grow into anxiety and then panic – it might force us to do something drastic or avoid the situation – which is fatal for some of us either way and we eventually lose confidence in our ability to make wise future decisions.

The thought process might look like this: “What if this migraine gets worse? ... What if it lasts all week? This will never get better ... This pain is never going to go away ... I can’t cope ... I don’t know what to do ... I’m useless ... I’m always sick ... I can’t do anything .... I’m a failure”. If it escalates to the panic stage we might make unwise decisions like take one too many tablets, and accidentally over dose. The end result is not good.

In the book 10 Simple Solutions to Migraines , Dawn A. Marcus, MD says that we can distract our brain from pain! Marcus says that “cognitive restructuring teaches you to send yourself more realistic and positive messages when a migraine occurs” – so instead of those worrying negative thoughts above you might say these kinds of things to yourself: “If I go put my relaxation tape on and take my medicine my migraine should improve in a few hours” ... or “I can feel the migraine coming on and I know that if I rest I will be back in action tomorrow”. Ok that last one doesn’t work for me – but you get the idea!

So what I’d really like to point out here is that Marcus says these techniques really work! “Research studies consistently show that regular use of relaxation techniques results in a 40 – 50% reduction in migraines (Holroyd and Penzien 1990: Lake 2001, cited in Marcus).

My migraine mantra to repeat to myself now is “Breathe, I’ve had these before and I know what to do” and once I breathe “it’s time to take my abortive and go to bed – my quiet warm safe haven”.

So it sounds like the best strategy might be to use a combination of medications, positive self talk and relaxation techniques to keep us calm whilst spiraling into the unknown migraine black hole.

The book Migraines for Dummies gives us 5 overall lifestyle ideas for managing our migraine episodes:

1. Accept what is happening. You have migraines, it’s not fair that you have to suffer, but there is a world full of other people suffering from much worse health conditions, so when you can – try to practice acceptance. I do struggle with this one – I must admit.

2. Decide what you want to do in your life and with your life. Make some attainable goals for yourself and step towards them. Don’t back down because of this extra challenge in your life. Some of the greats had migraines – Elvis Presley, Elizabeth Taylor, Vincent Van Gogh, Julius Caesar, Thomas Jefferson, Lewis Carroll (the author of Alice in Wonderland), Charles Darwin and Albert Einstein – the list goes on.

3. Learn to think positive. Don’t let the migraines become your identity. They are not you; they are only one thing you experience. You are not disabled! You can still move towards your dreams if you plan to take actions.

4. Be proactive. Make some lifestyle choices that will help you manage your on the link above for more details on this.

5. Learn some good coping strategies. Learn how to best handle your own stress. Worrying can lead us in the wrong direction – as mentioned above. So - practice stress management, good time management and relaxation.

These may sound really basic, but some migraineurs might struggle with a few of these areas. I know I do. See the next issue for some stress management technique ideas.

Ask the Editor:

Do you have a question you’d like to ask the editor on this topic? If so please click here to Contact Me. I will respond as soon as possible.

YOUR INPUT – Give YOUR Migraine A Voice

This is a safe forum to express your troubles – tell your story – show your art - find solutions with new ideas - and get professional health advice . Just click on the links underlined above if you would like to contribute.

Remember that your contribution will help others too! We are not in this alone, even though it feels like it most of the time. Our stories and input can help each other.

My Question to You

What have you done or what strategy do you have in place that has turned out to be the best thing to help you cope with the impact of migraines in your life? We’d love to hear from you. Click here to tell us.

Other Migraine Aids:

TheraSpecs are now on Amazon. Just click here on our Pain Relief Store to check them out.

Issue 6 - Part 4 – Social

The Biggest Mistake Migraineurs Make

The biggest mistake migraineurs make is pushing through the early warning signals and ignoring them and then ...

I hope you ENJOYED this issue of The Pain Chronicles!

If you’ve missed an issue click here to read the back issues.

And before I forget!

Please send this to your friends and family. It’s time to spread the word about Migraines and educate our loved ones! They can click on this link to subscribe as well.

Talk to you next month, until then, I wish you many Migraine FREE days.

From Holly at

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