Christmas Survival Tips
Christmas, whether we celebrate it or not can be one of the most fun times of the year, but it can also be one of the most stressful and for some, the most depressing times of the year. Whether it’s due to family arguments, the wrong Christmas present, just the incessant cheery tunes being played in every shop you go into, even if it’s just to get a sandwich, or having to go to all those Christmas and New Year parties, it can really take its toll. It’s especially difficult for people who suffer from a neurological disorder such as migraine.
To try to help you to cope with all of the Christmas Craic this year, here are some tips which we hope you will find helpful…
- Be Organised – Make a Christmas Plan:
- As boring as this sounds having everything organised can reduce stress enormously. You won’t have to worry about last minute shopping, the supermarket running out of turkey and ham, and you will have time to visit those relations you only see at Christmas without worrying about rushing. Make a to-do list of all the things you need to do and allocate the time to them. Don’t forget to factor in the ‘just in case my migraine attacks’ bit so that even if you do have an attack you will still have time to do everything. Bring in members of your family to help take some of the pressure off.
- Remember to Breathe:
- If you practice Yoga or Pilates you will already know how to use your breathing to help relax you, but if not, teach yourself some simple breathing techniques that you can use anywhere. Don’t be afraid to leave a room for a few minutes if it’s too chaotic to find a quiet place to breathe. You could try some exercises used in the Mindfulness and Relaxation Centre at Beaumont Hospital. Relaxation breathing can help you to deal with stress. Know your tolerance limits and don’t be afraid to leave a party early or switch from alcohol to water (fizzy water can hit the same spot a Coke or Fanta can)
- Talk to your Doctor:
- If you feel that you may be in need of extra help then it might be a good idea to speak to your doctor or your therapist (psychotherapist, complementary therapist, any therapist you see) beforehand. They may be able to give you something that will keep you calm, help you to sleep and allow you to enjoy the madness. Some supplements may help but make sure you pass this by your medical specialist before trying anything new.
- Get enough Sleep:
- A good night’s sleep is necessary for most people to be able to function well. Try to keep your normal sleep pattern during your days off but don’t be afraid to take a nap if you need to. Take a relaxing cup of chamomile tea or lavender Earl Gray before bed to help you to fall asleep. With enough good (REM) sleep you can take on the Grinch and the Krampus singlehandedly!
- Eat, Drink and be Merry Careful:
- The food around at this time of year is delicious, but it can be a source of triggers for migraine. Know your triggers, don’t over-indulge in anything. If drinking alcohol, take your time, drink water in between alcoholic drinks and know your limits. Don’t over stress either your stomach or brain and you can enjoy everything.
- Learn your non-food triggers and watch out for the danger:
- As we know there are many triggers and food is just one culprit. Light, temperature, change in season and other less obvious things can affect a sensitive brain. Using your migraine diary or the Migraine Buddy app can help you to keep tabs on the times when you may be in danger and help you to avoid the next attack, or at the very least to be prepared for it.
- Keep your medications handy:
- Always make sure you have enough medication to see you through the season. If you need to get an extra prescription, then do so early so that you’ll have plenty of time to get them and won’t be worrying about running out. If you’re staying with someone make sure that you have your prescription with you in case you need to go to the local pharmacy. Keep your meds with you all the time and make sure you keep water handy too.
- Learn to recognise stress:
- If you feel yourself getting too stressed then you can take action to stop it. If you feel irritable, nauseous, nervous or tired, it could be a migraine coming on, but it could also be stress. Try to recognise the different feelings of these things as they relate to migraine and again to stress so you’ll know what actions to take.
- Music Soothes the Savage Migraine:
- Soft, flowing, classical music has been known to lower stress levels and calm people down. It might be worth dusting off some old classical CDs or streaming some soft Christmas melodies, nothing too loud or shouty, to help you get through the day. Even singing along to Christmas FM can be fun, which in turn reduces stress and lifts the mood.
- Have a laugh:
- Call up a friend and go for a walk with them, or go for lunch with a colleague; no shop-talk, just a bit of craic. Stick something funny on the TV and laugh out loud.
- Light Exercise:
- Even if you’re not feeling up to it, try if you can to do some light exercise like going for a walk with the dog, or just on your own. The physical exercise releases endorphins ion the brain (feel-good hormones) and the fresh air can help clear out the cobwebs.
Following these steps and others that you may have come up with yourself may help you to enjoy the Christmas and New Year seasons. They will help to alleviate stress which in turn could mean fewer migraines. This allows you to spend more time enjoying the season with your family and friends.