If you suffer from migraines, you know better than anyone how uncontrollable they can be. When you’re at home, you can at least curl up in bed. But when you’re at work, you likely don’t have that luxury.
Other than tough out the pain, what can you do? No solution works for every migraine sufferer. But there are a few things you can try:
Keep Medication Nearby
If you suffer from frequent migraines, you should have a supply of medication on deck. Although it might not make your headache go away, it should allow you to finish your shift.
Over-the-counter painkillers like acetaminophen and ibuprofen are inexpensive and effective. If they don’t cut it for you, talk to your doctor about other migraine treatment options. He or she may prescribe antiemetics for nausea, triptans to reduce inflammation, or beta-blockers to reduce the effects of stress hormones on your vascular system.
Keep your medicine in a cool, dry place. If you work outdoors, ask a supervisor whether you can keep it in their office. Don’t store it in a vehicle, where it may get too hot or cold.
Get Some Peace and Quiet
Sensory overload can make a migraine worse. When you feel the effects coming on, find a quiet location to let it pass. Avoid environments with excess light and noise. Even strong smells or tastes can trigger migraines in some people.
If there’s no way for you to get away from the stimulation, invest in mitigation tools. Bring a pair of noise-cancelling headphones or earplugs to work. Don’t be afraid to don sunglasses indoors.
Another technique you can try is meditation. A quiet meditation session can counter excess stimulation. Learn to let go of stress before it brings on a temple-throbbing migraine.
Dim the Lights
If you have your own office, use a floor or desk lamp to avoid using fluorescent overhead lights. Shut the blinds, and turn down the brightness on your computer monitor. Get a pair of blue light glasses if you stare at a screen all day.
If you work in a shared space, encourage your employer to keep the lights only as bright as is necessary. Ask to move your desk to a dimmer area, such as a corner or alcove.
Talk to a Supervisor
Don’t just ask your supervisor to dim the lights out of the blue; explain why. By keeping your migraines to yourself, you’re only making your life more miserable.
If your supervisor is aware of the pain you’re in, he or she should want to help you. Identify things you can do when a migraine strikes, such as taking a five-minute break. Come up with a code word, such as “banana,” if you don’t wish to share your health issues with your co-workers.
Take a Walk
Exercise is a type of stimulation, too much of which can trigger migraines. It also, however, releases endorphins. Endorphins act as natural painkillers, which can reduce migraine pains in some sufferers.
If you suffer from frequent migraines, add more walks into your schedule. If you notice you often get them at a similar time of day, take walks right before that time.
What about vigorous exercise? It’s not a good idea. Not only might the intensity make your migraine worse, but you may injure yourself in the process. Take it easy on yourself.
Work From Home
If the option is available, take your work home. Make yourself comfortable, and finish up at your own pace. Let yourself take a ten-minute nap, after which you’ll be more productive.
Remote work was already on the rise before Covid-19 made it the norm. If you experience migraines frequently, ask whether your employer would let you work from home.
Drink More Water
As is true of many physical ailments, hydration can make all the difference. Drinking a cup of water or two may not be able to prevent a migraine, but it should take the edge off.
Avoid getting dehydrated in the first place. Take a reusable water bottle with you to work that you can sip from throughout the day. If you struggle to remember to drink water, set calendar reminders throughout your day.
Try Some Caffeine
One dehydrating substance that might help with your migraine is caffeine. Caffeine is a common ingredient in headache medication because it constricts blood vessels and augments pain killers.
With that said, caffeine is not for everyone. Caffeine can accelerate the let-down effect, increasing the frequency of your migraines. Try other methods before resorting to an energy drink to get through the day.
Most people who experience migraines have certain triggers. Keep a notebook or journal about your migraine episodes. Every time one strikes at work, record when it happened, what you were doing at the time, how severe it was, and what, if anything, seemed to alleviate it.
After a while, these notes will help you pick up on your migraine patterns. You might realize that your migraines always occur in the afternoon and are more likely to occur when you skip lunch. You can then make a point of always eating lunch at noon.
Don’t let migraines hold you back. Whether you’re working from the office or from home, use these techniques to help you overcome the pain and stay on track. Above all, respect your limits as a human being; any employer worth working for will too.