Do you panic before an attack? I used to. Learning focusing with migraines gave me a way to approach my overwhelming emotions and calm down.
You can use it whenever you need it. Even at 3:00 AM or ten times a day.
The Neuroplasticity theory claims calming down the nervous system results in pain reduction and that's just what you need.
If you get migraines, you already know you need to act fast. Using focusing techniques, I can tune in, calm down, and then make wiser decisions. These crucial action steps help me stop my attack as early as possible.
Do you want more relief? Learning new coping skills will help.
Is stress is a migraine trigger for you? Do you notice when stress increases your pain?
I never made the connection, but neuroscience is proving this now. There is increasing evidence that naming the emotions that accompany your painful symptoms and conditions help the mind make the connection and calm down the nervous system.
Using focusing techniques might just stop future attacks.
In treating chronic pain, there seems to be a huge gap leaving out migraines. In my experience, most therapies pertain to the spine or back, the neck, a limb or some trauma or injury.
Not one treatment modality has said with migraines, when you can't think ... do this. So, with every therapy I learn and use, I need to tweak it for migraines.
Not so much with focusing as it includes all body sensations and you find the word that fits for you. And as Ann Weiser Cornell says "just let the word pain float away."
Now we both know it’s not as simple as that. I don’t know about you, but I used to have huge overwhelming emotions come up around this whole migraine condition and I didn’t know it then, but my anxiety was probably making the pain worse.
Question the validity of your ideas and feelings.
"If the emotions that either accompany or worsen your pain are too frightening to face, ask why this is so?
Do not give into the fear. Ask yourself what is so frightening about what you are feeling? What is so terrifying about the pain?
Is it the fear that you will not be able to do what you have planned? Is it that you will have hours or days to pay for some perceived excessive activity?
Is it that the things you have learned to diffuse your pain will not work and that you will have no defense against it?
Is it that the pain will never leave you and that this will make you miserable for the rest of your life?" (source)
Focusing with migraines can help in so many ways, I was going to write a course on it, but my guru (Ann Weiser-Cornell) has this short course to help you get started right now.
Let’s face it, I get 20 migraines every month and there is no way I could afford to have someone talk with me around them that often. You need something you can use, when you need it. Night or day.
The thing I love most about this therapy is that you can do it with a trained therapist, a focusing buddy, or just by yourself. And it is amazingly effective at helping you cope with overwhelming emotions, especially at 3AM.
Here are some tips from my guru, Ann Weiser Cornell.
In her emails she says "Do you have a question about Focusing? Just REPLY to this email with your question."
So I did. I did not actually expect a response for some reason, but within the week she answered. This email is shared with her permission.
Is change possible with chronic illness?
So here's what I wrote in to ask about focusing with migraines:
"Last week’s Tip really spoke to my heart as I have a few chronic illnesses I am managing. They feel like stuck places. (Chronic migraines and chronic fatigue syndrome).
So many people believe you can just solve these somehow, if you just stop stressing or just think positive!
There is a part of me that is hoping for change and is often being let down (24 years). And there is the part that needs to be real to deal with the day to day.
Is there some way to just be OK with barely functioning each day? How do we speak to the illness in the body that won’t shift?
I believe change is possible, and yet I grow weary. Become skeptical and deflated. Focusing helps me greatly with emotions ... but what about when it's physical? Physical stuckness, that more than likely won’t change."
This is Ann's reply:
I hear a lot of courage in your determination to find some way to live resiliently with your chronic illnesses. No wonder you grow weary... or something in you does.
I am a big believer in being real. From the Focusing viewpoint, being real means sensing and dealing with how it is right now. Nobody knows the future.
Something in you might say, "Be real. Accept that this can never change." but I would call that a part of you, not the whole You.
Here are some tips that might help.
(1) Although having a diagnosis is helpful so you can get the right treatment, you can also let go of the label (for example, "chronic fatigue") and just make a relationship with how you are actually feeling right now.
(2) With chronic conditions we can start to think the feeling will be always the same, like "always tired." But body process is always subtly different. Try sensing how you feel (how "it" feels) right now as if you had never felt it before. Allow fresh images and metaphors to emerge. "It's like..."
(3) Say "Hello" to the feeling that is here right now and sense how It would like You to be with It. What happens might surprise you.
Please be in touch and let me know how it goes ...
Ann Weiser Cornell
Now besides feeling like a rockstar just because Ann replied to me, it made a lot of sense. So simple and so clear. Something new.
And I needed that because I used to beat myself up for not being able to cure my migraines, and many times I hated my body for betraying me.
Focusing with migraines is a great resource for building your resilience muscles.
As a qualified counsellor I use focusing with migraines with some other tools I find to be effective, so help is on the way to calm the emotional chaos. Don't let your overwhelming emotions add to your symptoms or increase your pain any longer.
Here are some other ways I can help right now...
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