Christmas Tips 2018
Christmas can be a wonderfully magical time as we all know, with the colourful lights, the cheerful happy songs, the decorations and trees in every shop window and the joy of picking out presents for friends and family, and ‘tiny tots, with their eyes all aglow’, waiting for Santa Claus to climb down the chimney with his sack full of toys.
However, Christmas can also be a stressful time, especially for migraine sufferers, with the blinky, flashy lights, the jingle of bells, the constant stream of Christmas songs blaring out of every shop, the stress and worry about buying Christmas gifts for family and friends, and getting the house ready for Santa and his reindeer.
The food, the smells, the sights, the sounds can all overwhelm the senses and push you right over your migraine threshold into a topsy-turvy sleigh ride of horror! We have a few tips below however which we hope will help to see you through.
Whatever you do, wherever you are and whoever you’re with, from all of us here at the Migraine Association of Ireland, we wish you a very happy, peaceful and migraine-free Christmas, with every good wish for 2019.
Christmas Migraine Top Tips
- If cheese is a trigger, try varieties that are low in tyramine, such as;
- The following cheeses have all been reported to be high in tyramine;
- Blue cheeses
- Processed cheese
- Watch out for additives like Mono Sodium Glutamate (MSG) which has about a million hidden names or Aspartame – organic produce may be less of a trigger as they have less or no additives in them
- Try to avoid processed and smoked foods if possible – many contain nitrates which are suspected triggers
- Avoid foods containing Benzoic acid (E210)
For dietary and nutritional advice around migraine, especially come Christmas time, you could do a lot worse than checking out Glenville Nutrition, or even The Dizzy Cook – an American lady who has Vestibular Migraine but has a dedicated blog with some delicious recipes and tips to benefit sufferers of all forms of migraine.
If alcohol is a trigger then the following tips may help:
- Pace yourself with water between alcoholic drinks
- Pour your own drinks so you can keep track more easily of those top-ups at the office or Christmas party
- Stay hydrated – remember alcohol dehydrates you
- Choose a drink that’s lighter in colour, e.g. white wine is less of a trigger than red
- If possible, try to avoid wines containing sulphites. If you find that sulphites might be a trigger, look for a wine that says ‘sulphite free’ or ‘low in sulphites’ or ‘organic’ on the label. See Debbie Hutchinson’s article on Red Wine – You may not have to miss out after all! https://www.migraine.ie/red-wineis-safe-option/
- Take some alcohol-free days
- Avoid going for caffeine hangover cures e.g. coffee, Red Bull, etc
- Try to get adequate sleep coming up to and during Christmas
- Maintain a regular routine as much as possible e.g. try to get up at the usual time but maybe go for a nap in the afternoon if you need to – remember too much sleep can also be a trigger
- Stress, be it good or bad can be hard on the system. Adequate sleep can help you to cope with stress and/or keep it at bay.
- Budget before hand to avoid financial stress
- Avoid excess activity in the run up to Christmas
- Plan your travel well in advance to avoid worrying about how you’re going to get there
- Schedule in some ‘me time’
- Say ‘No’ to activities that you don’t feel up to doing, or to people putting pressure on you
- Have family and friends handy to help with cooking and washing up, but it’s also okay to make sure you take some time out to be alone
- Wind down slowly, try to avoid going from crazily busy to really relaxed
- If the blinky and flashy lights on the houses, Christmas trees and shops are affecting you, try wearing glasses with darkened lenses. Migraine glasses can help with this.
- The sun is low in the sky at this time of year too. Polarised sunglasses might be a good idea to reduce the glare; however they are not easy to use at night and not advisable when driving in twilight or darkness.
- The crazy patterns of wrapping paper and some Christmas cards can also have an effect, so be wary when buying them
- Use the night shift or night mode on your iPhone/iPad, etc or download a night mode app from Google Play for Android if not already on your phone
- Only you can decide whether or not it’s easier and less stressful to listen to the kids cry about their noisy toy not working because there are no batteries, or to give them the batteries and listen to the noisy toy doing the rounds all Christmas