Monday, I posted that Rosie didn’t have a migraine on Facebook. It was huge deal for her because usually she has them after a big event like a dance competition or this weekend’s parent show. I had a friend reach out to me after and mention that she gets migraines too after a full weekend. I encouraged her to keep a migraine journal to track what’s going on to see if there’s a pattern to her episodes.
While that may sound pretty basic, in the beginning most people just get migraines and they don’t know why. Keeping a journal allows you to see possible triggers so you can control them and have an open discussion with your doctor about what medications are working or aren’t and other treatment options that may work like Biofeedback. When I started to track Rosie’s, I tried using a calendar, but there wasn’t enough room so I bought a basic journal and I just write in the dates. My husband tracks on an Excel spreadsheet that he brings with him to the doctor. Here are the things that we track on a weekly basis to try and get some insight into how to get migraines under control.
So what do you track in a migraine journal?
Time of Day– Do you wake up with migraines or do they come on during the day? After tracking, we realized that 90% of the time, Rosie will wake up with one. This allows us to adjust our schedule to be able to get her medication quickly to help salvage some of the day.
Activity– Was it a non-stop busy weekend? If so, you may pay for it at the top of the week. Stressful day? Start logging and you may notice a pattern to your headaches. Often we have Tuesday migraines. Why? Sometimes going back to school on Monday can be stressful.
Emotions– We all know stress can be a trigger and so can anxiety. Be mindful of how you’re feeling and write it down.
Sleep pattern– What time are you going to sleep? How many hours of sleep are you getting? Is it restful or are you up and down all night? We’ve noticed that if we sleep too little or too much it can bring on a migraine.
Exercise– Track when you take a brisk walk or make it to the gym. The stress relief of exercise may help or in some cases hurt if you overdo it. Be mindful of activities that can put pressure on your neck like pilates or yoga.
Foods– Before you start eliminating foods, start tracking what you eat. Common triggers? Alcohol, chocolate, aged cheese, foods with lots of preservatives and for some people, gluten. For us, we haven’t been able to see any kind of pattern when it comes to food except when Rosie doesn’t eat. Low blood sugar can bring on a headache. So can dehydration.
Weather– My teen is a human barometer. If it’s overcast or raining, she’s sensitive to the pressure changes. On days when you have a migraine, pause and write down the weather and even look at the day before.
By keeping a migraine journal, you’ll be able to see some of your triggers. If it’s food, you can eliminate on your own. Stress? Try to avoid those situations or adjust your reaction to the situation with relaxation techniques. And, of course, your physician will be able to help you once they have more information with medications, physical therapy and even counseling if needed.
If you have migraines, is there anything else you’d add to this list? What are your triggers?
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