Finding the right job goes beyond what your passion is or what will pay the bills for the migraine sufferer. The best jobs for people with migraines are jobs that support their needs, offer empathy, and understand that migraine isn’t anything anyone chooses. The employee or staff member with migraines needs to be seen as a valuable member of the team who brings much to the table despite this invisible illness.
However, sometimes things like chronic migraines, repeated absences, or changed plans begin to add up. When this happens you will start to learn if you are in the best job for you as a migraine sufferer or if you need to choose a different path. So the best jobs for migraine sufferers is more of a job description than a comprehensive list.
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Create a Migraine Friendly Workspace
This Will Reveal the Best Jobs for People with Migraines
Consider the lighting as one big component. Photophobia or light sensitivity is a challenge for many migraine sufferers. For some fluorescent lights can be a trigger. These can be traded out for alternatives such as lamps or different bulbs. Green light is also a new trend as experts are saying it causes less pain. I will be looking into this more as I am trying this in my classroom now. Check out my other post Best Lighting for the Office and Beyond for more specific information on types of bulbs and lighting. Dimming your computer light or considering a blue light screen protector or set of blue light glasses are other things to try.
In addition to lighting, sound or noise level should be taken into consideration. For example, if you have chronic migraines and you know you are prone to migraines due to loud noises this could be a deal breaker in your job choice. This does not mean that there are jobs that a migraine sufferer cannot do necessarily. It just means we need to know our limits and make the right choices for our lives. You may consider if there are tweaks you can make to your workplace. Are there doors you can shut? Can you take quick breaks? Can you work in a different space?
Something else to consider is strong smells. Some of my worst migraines have been due to strong smells. Think about your current job or workplace or if you are considering a job at this time. Does it have a smell you will not be able to deal with on a daily basis? If so, it might make you think twice about the job. It may seem drastic, but I have had to leave work and go to the ER due to a strong odor before.
Now, I actually carry a migraine stick with me that has essential oils in it to cancel out some of the strong smells. I am a teacher and let’s just say this is a must have in my world. Those visits did not keep me from doing the job I love. I was able to find a way to cope and you likely can too. Just remember it is ok to change your mind or job. Sometimes it may be a bit of trial and error to find what works when combating the triggers.
After many years of finding what works for me the Migrastil Migraine Stick has saved me from the smell of P.E. and recess on my students and many other odors that might trigger a migraine attack. In fact, my teaching partner and I have a joke that if I am down, she needs to grab this and revive me! It is a natural way to aid in healing and/or preventing the migraine. This can be used on the temples or neck for pain, as well as, breathing in the essential oils to cancel out the migraine triggering odors you come in contact with. For me this is a part of my everyday toolkit.
You will be thankful you kept things on hand when a migraine does strike or even better when you prevent one from starting! You will feel less stress and your coworkers will appreciate your efforts. This does not mean a migraine attack is your fault. This just means you have some power to be sure you have what you need.
Water can cancel out dehydration and snacks can help ensure you don’t drop in blood sugar or get a migraine due to a skipped meal. Being hydrated should not be overrated and becoming dehydrated is a common way to trigger a migraine. I often find making sure I have a balance of protein with other nutrients is also helpful, but this is truly up to the individual. These small steps could save you from a big attack.
In addition to those items is the importance of having your migraine medication with you at all times. If you are able to keep a portion of it in a safe place at work you could consider that as one option. Or keep it in your purse or other secure location. As a teacher I actually have extra injections in the nurse’s office and they have come in handy. In my opinion it is better to be over prepared than left in a panic because you don’t have what you need.
Most migraine medications that are considered “rescue meds” or those you take when you get a migraine work best when you take them when the migraine starts instead of waiting. I have had many conversations with neurologists about the importance of this process. Each one has assured me it is better to take the medicine sooner than later and not play the guessing game of if it is allergies or a migraine. Just focus on preventing a severe migraine you can’t control or you might hear the term intractable migraine. Talk to your doctor about questions you have.
Build a Support System
As I told Self Magazine in a recent article, “This migraine life is not easy, but it is better traveled with friends.” Some jobs lend themselves to building relationships and through these you find the best jobs for people with migraines. As a teacher my support system is amazing. Without my teaching partner, admin, and entire staff my life would be very different. I put my whole heart into what I do and I would feel broken if I lost that part of myself.
Also remember that sometimes people just don’t have the background knowledge if they don’t have migraines. So a conversation could result in empathy and understanding.
Find those people who will stand beside you, have your back, and encourage you. You need bosses who will be understanding and coworkers who are willing to drive you to the hospital or home if needed. Or hopefully you avoid those situations and instead you need someone to share a diet coke with you, remind you they see you, and provide you with grace while your medicine does its job.
Making Decisions About the Best Jobs for People with Migraines
You may feel you have to choose between a job you want and a job you need. Hopefully you can find both! If you are searching for that now, take some time to think about what you need from a space you work in. These are not demands or because you are high maintenance. This is because you care enough about everyone involved to be sure you are in the right place.
Also, remember your talents far outweigh your illness. This is often very hard to keep in mind when we have migraine guilt or feel we have let others down. However, it is so important to remember you are strong and see hope in your story. Then others will see this and be encouraged too.
Migraines are no small thing, but don’t let them become your whole story. You have much to offer the world and perhaps there is strength in your journey. Let that be your story. More to come on that topic.
You can also read about the best lighting in the office for migraines in my article here.
Check out this recent article I was interviewed in with Self Magazine. Read it here.
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