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Migraine During the Holidays

Migraines during the holidays: cup of cocoa saving memories

Tis the Season

Migraine during the holidays sounds like the worst thing that could happen, but there are some steps we can take to prepare and prevent them.  That said, when they do happen we must rely on our migraine tools to get us through. I have had migraine-free holidays and I have had some in which I had to use every tool in the kit to get through. Either way, the migraine sufferer knows that this illness does not care what the calendar says. However, let’s not allow migraine to steal all our joy or memories.

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The To-Do List Stress

Stress can be a big migraine trigger and the holidays may be a time of increased stress. Read more about stress and migraine in my post Migraine and Stress: How to Cope. We must be aware of what our body is telling us and if needed take a break from the to do list. It may be helpful to chunk tasks and spreading them out as much as possible on your calendar can feel more manageable as well.

migraines during the holidays; woman with stack of presents

 It can also be freeing to remove things from the to-do list. Are there tasks on your list that don’t really bring you or your loved one’s joy. Maybe it’s time to reevaluate if some of these things are worth your time.  Or perhaps you are a person who prefers to do most things yourself. There is no shame in enlisting the help of others or even going store-bought with some items. This can be true for decorations, presents, and food.

 It is always powerful to stop and reflect on what you want to focus on during the holidays. No one will fault you for having the best intentions and changing things up. This even happens to those without migraines. 

boy praying

The Smells of the Season: Enticing or Overwhelming?

Having migraine during the holidays may mean you have to be on your guard a bit or at least be a little aware of your surroundings. Watch out for that innocent candle or potpourri. What was set out to be welcoming may send the migraine sufferer over the edge. If it is your home, you obviously have control over this trigger. On the contrary, if you are going to someone else’s home or another place you may be at their mercy. 

migraines during the holidays; Christmas Tree

However, sometimes it just takes communication.  You might mention your sensitivity and what particularly sets you off. I actually love some candles and scents. However, some strong odors or perfumes have sent me into a severe migraine. I am now even more proactive and I have had to remind myself it is less about being demanding and more about surviving and staying with my family. With honesty and appreciation, others should meet you with grace and understanding. 

Migraine During the Holidays: Schedule Interruption

So many variations to your days can trigger a migraine attack. This may start with a delayed meal and that feeling of skipping a meal can trigger a migraine. In the midst of the hustle and bustle, it is important not to skip meals and to stay hydrated. Sometimes we may be tempted to think we can make it just one more place.  That one more place ends up being one too many and then it is too late. 

On the actual holidays, meals can often be at different times. We sometimes keep ours around the same time as we have small children.  However, if that first meal is delayed I know I need to have something small to eat earlier so I don’t start the day with a migraine. These are the hidden things we must think about. 

Be Prepared

Sometimes the reality isn’t if a migraine will happen, but instead what to do when it happens. My hope for you is that the if is still where you live. Either way, being prepared is the best way to prevent and survive. Be sure to stay hydrated and not skip meals as discussed above. Keep all meds on hand and accessible at all times. If you are traveling, keep your meds with you. I keep mine in my purse instead of putting them in my suitcase. This supply actually is a bit like a walking pharmacy so I also have a small bag I use in the front seat of the car or as a carry-on if we fly. The bottom line is I ensure my meds are with me at all times.

 In addition to meds, keep those other items with you that bring you relief. I always keep my migraine stick and creme with me. They ward off odors, and muscle tension, and help reduce some pain. Read more about them in my post-Migrastil Migraine Stick: Review and More. You can find it on the Amazon link below or on the Migrastil website here. Other items that I always have ready are my eye mask for sleeping and my migraine cap. My eye mask for sleeping allows me to block out all light and that can make a big difference. Light can feel like daggers to the migraine sufferer. My migraine cap feels so soft and healing. 

Migraine Attack During the Holidays

So if a migraine does strike, remember you have some resources so take a small breath and assess your needs. In my experience taking rescue meds at the onset of a headache can be a game changer. Allowing yourself to be in a dark, quiet room and rest can also be soothing. Communicate with your people and be sure they are aware of what you are going through. Take the time you need and don’t rush to rejoin the festivities until you feel better. The busy, lights, and sounds will not be the migraine patient’s friend. 

migraines during the holidays; Christmas Tree

So take care of yourself and your loved ones will be so thankful when you can join wholeheartedly. I humbly admit there have been times I have felt the “migraine hangover” and tried to rejoin. It is important to listen to our bodies and keep the big picture in mind.

Joy in the Season

There is so much joy to find in the holiday season and regardless of what else enters our world, we can not lose sight of that. In fact, sometimes finding the good in things may be something the migraine sufferer learns to do well because of some of the regular struggles faced throughout the year. So, if a migraine attack strikes, remember to tackle it as best you can. 

Then give yourself grace if you missed an event or were unable to complete something you wanted to get done. Instead, focus on the time and people you have. The joy will come from that and you will feel refreshed and at peace. 

migraines during the holidays; Christmas cookies

Stay Connected

Thank you for being here. Read about Best Gifts for Migraine Sufferers and find some products that improved my quality of life. These are great ideas for this time of year as well.

Join us in the Facebook group for support or send a message through the contact page. Reach out if you need support or have a topic you would like discussed. You are always welcome here for encouragement.


Although we strive to provide accurate general information, the information presented here is not a substitute for any kind of professional advice, and you should not rely solely on this information. Always consult a professional in the medical and health area for your particular needs and circumstances prior to making any medical or health-related decisions. For your health-related questions, please seek the advice of a licensed physician or any other qualified healthcare provider immediately.

22 thoughts on “Migraine During the Holidays”

  1. Pingback: Best Gifts for Migraine Sufferers - Migraine Road

  2. Fantastic post! Migraines are an awful and debilitating thing, sadly alot of people don’t realise this and think they’re ‘only a headache.’ Far from it!

  3. The holiday season is already so stressful for everyone, imagine having to handle migraines on top of it all! I feel for anyone going through it this winter. What great tips to help make it a little easier!

  4. I completely agree that schedule interruptions cause flare-ups with migraines. I don’t tend to get them, but my husband does, and this happens to him!

  5. Amazing post and wonderful tips – it’s so easy to forget about migraines and headaches until they actually happen and having a plan of action like this would be so helpful (especially during the holidays when so much is going on)!

  6. Stress levels go through the roof during the Holidays. It’s like everybody’s house is supposed to look like a Martha Stewart magazine.
    I love your advice about going for store-bought items. Not everything has to be made from scratch, who has time for that?
    And yes, stay away from scented candles!

  7. Your advice is always so clear and to the point but comes across in a caring and considerate matter. While I can’t use all of it some could definitely help me on my own health journey! I love how proactive you are!

  8. Charlie-Elizabeth Nadeau

    Really great tips, love reading this, tips are well thought out! Scents and too many essential oil diffusers cause me issues sometimes and stress. Both are manageable so trying to apply best practices and enjoy the holidays! Thank you for this!

  9. Really great tips for dealing with migraines during the holiday season. I know strong smells along with lack of sleep are HUGE triggers for me. It seems the holidays can be full of things to be cautious about. Thank you for always providing helpful tips.

  10. Thank you for sharing advice and resources on migraines during holidays. This really can be a time for joy so thanks for sharing some tips – really like the idea of staying connected!

  11. The holidays can already be so stressful for so many….not to mention those with migraines. I did not realize that scents can be the culprit of starting a migraine…I will have to pay more attention to that! Hopefully, those that struggle with these awful headaches will see these amazing tips you have shared and find the benefits you have found from them! Thanks for sharing!

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