At this point, I’ve suffered from migraines for about 5 years. As someone who used to be able to do anything I wanted with no consequence, the drastic lifestyle changes I’ve undergone as a result of my migraines have been hard to handle at times. It took a lot of adjusting to learn how to be social without alcohol, how to get up at the same time each morning and go to bed the same time each night, to minimize stress and put myself first. These have been very important lessons for me, and something I needed to be cognizant of for quite some time. But these days, I’m finding that I’ve gotten too careful and have started to let the fear of migraines run my life.
I often find myself living day to day and not making a plan for the week because “I’ll see how I feel”. I tend to assume that I’ll get a migraine, and you know what happens when you assume something like that? You get a migraine. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, and I know I probably get migraines just because I’m stressing so much about NOT getting them. You can see how this turns into a vicious cycle…
During my first year in grad school, I decided one month that I was over all these migraine shenanigans, and that I just wasn’t going to get migraines for a while. I know, that sounds crazy, right? But the minute I put my mind to it, sure enough, I didn’t have a migraine for about a month. That still remains the longest I’ve gone without a headache in years – and during the time I was finishing my thesis, no less!
I often find myself scheduling around the possibility of a migraine, or not planning things because I might get a headache. But I’ve found that when I allow space for headaches in my life, that’s when they creep on in. If I don’t allow space for them, whether that be mental or actual space in my schedule, they somehow know they are not welcome. Even recently, I’ve been afraid to plan my workout schedule more than a day or two in advance so I didn’t have to worry about canceling workout classes. When I realized I need to plan my workouts and be sure to include them each day, I set my mind to that and decided not to worry about headaches. They’re still going to happen, I know, but when I have other things to think about I find that I’m less fixated on avoiding migraines.
I’m also working on not being mad at myself if I get a headache. Since I’ve become very aware of what my triggers are, it’s very easy to blame myself for a headache. After all, I ate that chocolate chip cookie didn’t I? And I know chocolate is one of my triggers, right? But you know what? Sometimes the headache was coming anyway, and it turns out I’m looking for a way to place blame on myself for the one thing I didn’t perfectly control. That just makes me feel worse. When I allow myself to plan a full life that doesn’t account for headaches, I feel better admitting when I’m doing too much or when I need to take a break, and it’s easier to manage the headaches I do get.
This can take many forms for many people: from anxiety, to managing your money, to relationships. When you plan a life as you want it to be, your actions will be in accordance with that goal. When you set your mind to making new friends, you’ll see new people and new possibilities everywhere. Your thoughts create your actions, which then create your emotions. The mind is a powerful tool – use it for good!