Migraine Headaches and Holidays
12 Stress Busting Tips for Christmas

Christmas time can be so stressful. Migraine headaches and holidays, you never know when the next migraine will strike and where that will leave you. So here are 12 ideas to help you prepare better this year.

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I wanted to send you an email every day for 12 days, you know, like the 12 days of Christmas.

But my husband talked me out of it. He said it would drive you crazy to have an email a day for 12 days.

So here it is - all on one page. Let me know what your best strategies are in the form below tip #3.

Dr. Friedemann Schaub author of The Fear and Anxiety Solution says "When stress hormones travel through the body's cells, the results can be long-term changes in metabolism, structure, and behavior of cells." We already know that migraines are stressful enough all on their own, so it's important to reduce anxiety where ever we can.

Long term, chronic stress is even more problematic. And for many of us migraineurs, stress is a trigger. Never mind the added tensions when your budget is tight and your family is demanding.

Merry Christmas from MigraineSavvy.com

Plan Ahead

Migraine Headaches and Holidays Stress Busting Tip #1

Planning is so important around this time of year. You never know when the next migraine will strike. So here are some ideas to help you plan ahead.

Delegate some jobs amongst all the family members attending the different meals. Make up the meal plan and then organize who will bring what, already cooked. Ask for help, or even consider catering and get everyone to contribute to the cost.

Cook ahead of time and freeze what you feel you can safely. Some things like mashed potatoes just do not freeze well.

Arrange for the children to sit separately from the adults and feed them first. Let them talk and then go play, so you can all eat without interruptions. Have some games, coloring, or movies planned for them to watch.

Buy your gifts ahead of time or shop online. Stick to your budget.

Stay Within Your Budget

Migraine Headaches and Holidays Stress Busting Tip #2

Migraine Headaches and Holidays Budget

I probably should have made this number one to help reduce stress around the holidays. And potential migraine triggers!!!

Staying within your budget this time of year is really hard.

Even I struggle and I am little miss budget!

So sticking to your budget should reduce the constant worry around having more migraine headaches this holiday season. And we must always be vigilant and avoid our known triggers where possible.

Set a limit on what everyone spends on gifts so it’s all fair. If you have a really big family, try putting names in a hat and just picking out one. Then you only buy for that one person. This will be much easier on the budget.

Make something. Make some homemade chocolates, jam or preserved lemons. Whatever your specialty is. Migraine free I assume!

Or a special homemade gift basket of that person's favorite organic food, wine or snacks. Ok, maybe not wine if they get migraines!

Use eBay or Gumtree! Sell the old stuff you never use a few months ahead of time, and then check out eBay for what you need to buy. Do this well ahead of time.

Google 'cheap wine deals' to search for deals on booze if you need it. Or check out our migraine drink recipes. Migraine headaches and holidays are made worse with too much alcohol consumption. That's a fact!

Set Strong Boundaries

Migraine Headaches and Holidays Stress Busting Tip #3

"If you can produce an ulcer by reacting to stress, then you can heal the same ulcer by changing your reaction." Dr. Norm Shealy

Setting strong boundaries might make you feel anxious at first but it will pay off in the long run. Here are some ideas to learn how to respond when someone says “No” to changes you need at Christmas.

This happened to me quite a few years ago now, when I decided to stop doing ALL the work at Christmas, and then 2 years of having my husband do everything because of the relentlessly poor timing of migraine attacks and consequent down-times. 

After asking for others to pitch in and help, and after 3 of them saying “No, we like the way you do it.” I simply replied “Well then, I am just not up to having Christmas or boxing day this year, you will have to make other plans. I am sorry, but I am just not able to do it the old way any longer.”

And sadly, with that, we stopped having Christmas. And you know what – it was lovely.  My husband and I did the food we wanted, got up when we wanted, and well just had the whole day to exactly what we wanted. It was freeing and we made it FUN.

I am sure this won’t work, nor might you want complete cut-off, so here is another option for your kind response:

"I love you, and we are coming to see you, and I'd love to keep doing it the way we used to, but I am sad to have to say that the old way isn't working for me (us) anymore. Which of my suggestions will work best for you, or do you have any suggestions that work better than mine?"

What responses do you use, that work nicely? Please share with it with us in the comments box below.

Share Your Tips for Reducing Stress at Christmas Time

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Try Some New Breathing Techniques

Migraine Headaches and Holidays Stress Busting Tip #4

"Physical healing can occur after integrating breathing practices into our lives. The human body is designed to discharge 70% of its toxins through breathing." Dr. Gay Hendricks

There are numerous breathing techniques that help reduce stress and anxiety. I find that when I am feeling anxious and I tune in, I become aware that I am breathing really shallowly. So here’s my tip.

When you become aware of your breathing, at the same time as feeling how stressed you are …. say hello to your stress ….. and start counting your exhale to the count of four. So one thousand, two thousand, three thousand, four thousand, exhaling ….. and then pause for two counts.

Then inhale to the count of four and pause for two. Do this three or four times and then see if you feel more calm. I teach this to all of my clients who experience anxiety. Being in the pause, quietly, is really important. Really savor the peace in the silence.

This is my favorite, and might I add the most useful stress busting tip for the festive migraine headaches and holidays season.

Another tip here is to pace yourself over the holidays. Don’t try to do too much or you will just feel more stressed.

Learn to Meditate

Migraine Headaches and Holidays Stress Busting Tip #5

"Your inner state is what matters. The circumstances will pass. Be filled today with an attitude of gratitude!" Mary Morrissey

Learning to meditate changed my life. I could not have survived these horrific attacks without meditating. With 14 years of no effective pain killers, I had to meditate the pain away. Or at least find inner peace and calm until I passed out from the pain.

Click here for more details on the Wild Divine Biofeedback Training System

It is well known that meditation reduces stress and helps to reduce migraine attacks. I use the Wild Divine Biofeedback System. It reduces my anxiety ten fold and teaches me ways to cope better with this chronic condition.

Another suggestion is to treat yourself to a massage and just relax for one whole hour. Check out our tennis ball massage if you need something more regularly. Or just do what you love and find relaxing.

But truly, learning biofeedback will help you long term. The more you do it, the better you get. The less tense and irritated you will feel during stressful times like Christmas holidays.

Schedule in Some Time for Yourself

Migraine Headaches and Holidays Stress Busting Tip #6

Migraine Headaches and Holidays Stress Tip #6

"Stress and emotional pain is not caused by external issues, but by the battle between who you really are and the false ideas you've been brainwashed to believe about yourself." Derek Rydall

Scheduling in some time for yourself, will help reduce stress. The festive season tends to make us all think of our relatives, which is lovely in some ways. But I think I used to go way over board and leave myself out completely.

And I also mean to include some downtime you might need for the migraine attacks or recovering afterwards.

I suggest talking a walk in nature and really taking some time to see where you are walking. Be present with your environment. Look at the things you pass by.

Look at the trees and the grass. Feel the wind or cool air. Smell the grass. Use all the senses you can to help you be present in the moment.

It might work to say in your own mind “I am taking this time just for me. Nothing I need to do, no one I need to please. I am just walking and breathing. I am breathing in and I am breathing out.”

Pull all your energy back inside yourself. And just be with you.

Do A List With A Twist

Migraine Headaches and Holidays Stress Busting Tip #7

"Make a conscious choice on your part. That's how you get your own personal power back. That's how you have a more fulfilling life, by doing your own dream and not someone else's." Will Arntz

Now almost everyone has heard of a TO DO list. I am suggesting trying to add to that and make it a Want To Do List. Take some time to tune in and make sure all this stuff you are doing is what you actually want to be doing.

I know there is a lot of guilt around family obligations. But I suggest making a list of “have to’s” and sitting with them all to see how you can turn some of them in “want to’s”. Some have to's will have benefits that can turn them into a want to.

Plus you get to add one want to, to your list. Just because you want to! See tip nine for more details. Doing things you want to will help reduce migraine headaches and holidays stress.

Keeping a journal is another way to relieve stress related symptoms as it helps your brain make sense of what’s going on by seeing it. It makes the connection more clearly when it sees your written word.

I suggest keeping a separate positive and negative journal, so you can dispose of the negative one and remove the unwanted energy from your home.

You have probably heard of a gratitude journal. That will be your list of 3 – 5 things that you are grateful for each and every day. You can write it at night or in the morning. But you may have a better sleep is you do if just before you go to sleep.

Reflect on what you value in your life. What we focus on grows.

Find Time to Laugh

Migraine Headaches and Holidays Stress Busting Tip #8

Find time to laugh. It is well documented that laughter reduces stress and enhances health and the quality of your life. If you can’t actually laugh, then find what brings you joy and fit it in. If you don’t  - who will?

I found these one liners at Painsupport.co.uk hope you like them:

Energizer bunny arrested ... charged with battery.

How does Moses make his tea? Hebrews it.

A dyslexic man walks into a bra.

Choose Your Priorities

Migraine Headaches and Holidays Stress Busting Tip #9

First write down all the tasks you have to do today. Writing them down will get them out of your head. Beside the task write time needed and then number it according to the priority. #1’s get done today or tomorrow according to the time needed. The 2’s the next day, and 3’s the next day.

I can already hear you saying "I need to get them all done today!" Well too bad. You are only human. Pace yourself and these things will get done. If you have spare time you can go to the next thing on your list.

Next, pick one thing you actually want to do and add it to your list. Yes – make sure it’s less than one hour so you can fit it in. Five or ten minutes would be even better so you will definitely fit it in.

I put it in an excel spreadsheet, then print it out. I highlight what my number one priorities are for the day and then cross them out when I am done. So it goes for day 2 and three.

But I always schedule in my want to first. Maybe not first thing, but when I know I will need a fun break in the day.

And just FYI. There is always more to do – that’s because we are alive! And you will always make a list for a week not a day. That’s just how our minds work. So be gentle with your self and your TO DO list.

And if you get stressed doing this – just take a little time out. Here is number ten.

Take a Little Nap

Migraine Headaches and Holidays Stress Busting Tip #10

Migraine Headaches and Holidays Stress Busting Tip #10

Take a Little Nap. Our sleep cycle is about 90 minutes, so don’t nap longer than that.

Just a short little nano nap might be just what you need to help boost your energy through this festive season.

Also, make sure you are getting a good night sleep.

Many different healing modalities say to get to sleep before 10pm and wake up around 6am everyday to help your organs function optimally.

Exercise Mindfully

Migraine Headaches and Holidays Stress Busting Tip #11

Exercise - that's right - how can we not put an exercise regime in help for migraines! Do migraine specific exercises, like these easy headache migraine neck pain stretches regularly, between migraines and/or during one could really help.

Obviously you won't be exercising during an attack. I almost always stretch out my neck before the pain phase hits.

Doing the right exercises specifically designed to treat migraines may assist in reducing the number of attacks you experience and even possibly reduce the intensity. Especially if yours are worse with tension.

After all, if your migraines are persistent - like mine - you may not be able to cure them but you can learn ways to significantly decrease the frequency and severity of the attacks.

It is your mission today to walk mindfully. I have already told you about breathing more fully and pausing. So, take a deep inhale and just allow every tight tense spot in your body to release with the exhale. Pause there. Do this while you are walking. Slowly and mindfully.

Eat Mindfully

Migraine Headaches and Holidays Stress Busting Tip #12

It is so very easy to over eat around Christmas time. Your mission for 4 days, should you wish to accept it - December 23rd, 24th, 25th and 26th is to eat in moderation. If you moderate what you eat today, you will have more energy to cope with the other days ahead of too much food.

I think the food lasts at least two weeks. How about you?

Eating mindfully means to chew your food. Chew it slowly and for about 30 chews. That's a long time compared to normal! Taste it and don't gobble it down. Look at the colors, enjoy the textures and smell the juicy yumminess.

Eating in season is a great way to stay in tune with yourself and nature. What you eat at Christmas in American – Turkey and all the fixings, would melt me here in Australia. We have cold meats, and prawns with avocado and salad. I have veggies and humus, and things that are cooling.

You can still eat the rainbow and get lots of nutrients into you regardless of the climate.

Try taking a magnesium supplement to help reduce stress.

Don’t drink heaps of caffeine when you are stressed. It will hype you up. Try other alternatives like Coconut water that is hydrating or herbal tea.

Making fresh ginger tea helps digestion and reduces stress. Just peel 1 inch of fresh ginger root and cut it into pieces. Cover with 2-3 cups of water and boil for 10-20 minutes. You can drink it with honey or on its own to help aid digestion and reduce stress.

More Ways Manage Migraine Headaches and Holidays

Read these pages to help with migraine headaches and holidays and reducing stress. 

› Migraine Headaches and Holidays Stress Busting Tips for Christmas

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