How to Avoid Migraine Triggers During the Holidays

How to Avoid Migraine Triggers During the Holidays

The holidays can be a time of joy, giving, and spending time with family. Unfortunately, they can also come with migraine triggers that lead to debilitating pain. Learning how to avoid migraine triggers during the holidays doesn’t mean you have to skip the festivities. Today, we’re looking at a few simple tips and techniques to avoid the holiday migraine and enjoy each minute to the fullest. Read on, and have a happy holiday!

Avoiding Common Holiday Migraine Triggers

You want to spend your evenings baking cookies or enjoying a home-cooked meal with your family, not fighting back a holiday migraine. The holidays come with many migraine triggers from additional stress to strong holiday fragrances. Knowing how to avoid migraine triggers during the holidays, however, can keep you feeling great and enjoying every moment. We’ve taken out the guesswork for you and put together a list of how to avoid migraine triggers during the holidays including:

  • Exercising regularly
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Avoiding overly strong fragrances
  • Watching your caffeine intake
  • Recognizing foods that cause migraines
  • Managing stress levels
  • Avoiding shopping nightmares
  • Managing exposure to lights and sun glare

Exercising Regularly

First up on our list of ways to avoid migraine triggers during the holidays is to exercise regularly. Keeping active not only promotes better blood circulation, but also helps the body release endorphins. These endorphins act like a natural painkiller and mood elevator for the body, which can keep migraine triggers at bay. Exercising regularly during the holidays also helps with managing stress levels and getting better sleep quality, pairing this tip with several others you’ll see on our list for even better effect.

Getting Enough Sleep

Speaking of sleep, making sure you get adequate levels of sleep during the holidays could be key to avoiding that holiday migraine you’re worried about. Experts recommend adults get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Even though this can be difficult while juggling the added pressures and busy schedules of the holidays, sticking to a consistent sleep schedule makes a huge difference. Not only could it help avoid migraine triggers during the holidays, but you’ll awaken feeling more rested and ready to take on each day. 

Avoiding Strong Smells or Fragrances During the Holidays

We all know the smells of the holidays. Cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, holly, and many other potent fragrances seem to suddenly be all around us! While these scents can be full of nostalgia, they can also serve as holiday migraine triggers for many. You may not be able to avoid these scents entirely (or even want to), but you can find ways to consciously minimize your exposure to them if they are a cause of migraine pain for you.

Instead of staying indoors for an entire party, consider stepping outside for a breath of fresh air, if you’re able, or positioning yourself further from the source of the holiday fragrance.

Watching Your Caffeine Intake

While you may be inclined to drink an extra holiday latte or find yourself ingesting more soda than usual at a party, keep in mind that caffeine is a well-known migraine trigger that could be problematic for you later in the evening. The easiest way to avoid this is to monitor your caffeine intake and adjust accordingly. Swap out that extra festive latte for an herbal tea or glass of water, instead.

Recognizing Foods That Cause Migraines

When it comes to holiday migraine triggers, what we eat can have a direct impact. It's best to avoid certain foods that cause migraines as much as possible, or minimize how much of them you eat. As with all things, moderation is key. Some of these foods to consider when learning how to avoid migraine triggers during the holidays include:

  • Cured meats and smoked fish
  • Chocolate
  • Certain cheeses (such as feta, parmesan, swiss, and cheddar)
  • Dried fruits and pickled foods (pickles, olives, pickled okra, etc.)
  • Alcoholic beverages (especially red wine)

Keeping an eye on what you’re eating at any holiday event can keep you from experiencing a painful migraine later.

Managing Stress Levels

No doubt about it, the holidays can be stressful! Unfortunately, all that added stress can easily turn into holiday migraine triggers and have you feeling awful instead of enjoying yourself. To circumvent this scenario, it’s important to find ways to manage holiday stress levels. This could be even the simplest tasks like calming breathing exercises, journaling each night before bed, or relaxing in a zero gravity chair to unwind.

Checking in with your emotions and mental well-being each day also helps keep stress levels under control. Combining these stress management techniques along with adequate sleep is a prime way to avoid a holiday migraine and let you enjoy the entire season.

Avoiding Shopping Nightmares

We all know holiday shopping can test our limits when it comes to stress and patience. Holiday shopping is a major contributor to holiday migraine pain for many people, making it important to address. Instead of going to the stores this year, consider the ease of ordering gifts online. Not only can you shop from the comfort of home, but you’re able to avoid the crowds, traffic, and other migraine triggers that could knock you off your feet. Just be sure to order gifts in plenty of time to allow for extended delivery times so you’re not left stressing out about whether your gifts will arrive on time!

Managing Exposure to Lights and Sun Glare

Last, but not least, on our list of holiday migraine triggers to avoid during the holidays is managing exposure to lights and sun glare. We love beautiful and festive holiday lights, but overexposure to them can be commonly-overlooked as a migraine trigger for many people. Additionally, if you live in a place that gets snow, the glare of the sun off the snow-covered yards can also contribute to migraine pain. Wearing protective eyewear to minimize this glare is an effective way to avoid a holiday migraine and simply enjoy the beautiful winter months.

We hope this guide has given you a lot of ways to consider how to avoid migraine triggers during the holidays. Each person has different triggers, but identifying common triggers is the first step to adjusting away from them! This year, don’t let a holiday migraine keep you from the fun. Instead, be mindful of your migraine triggers and adapt to enjoy your holidays to the fullest.

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