How to Avoid a Migraine this Thanksgiving

Over the river and through the woods… to a packed, noisy, house you go? Thanksgiving is a time for gathering and sharing. It’s wonderful – until it triggers a migraine; then it’s not.

Here are some tips that may help you eat more and dread less of turkey-centered family time:

Prep early: Are you traveling or hosting this year’s Thanksgiving gathering? If you’re traveling pack with plenty of time so you’re not stressing to get out the door and accidentally inducing your own migraine. If you’re hosting, decide on a menu ahead of time and shop early – while you still have time to cook or bake, and before the last-minute mayhem at the supermarket. Be realistic about what you have the time and energy to do and delegate when possible. Ask the teenagers in the family to take and hang coats, put someone in charge of drinks (and offer only a few choices for simplicity), and leave the music or TV selection to someone else. Also, game plan your seating arrangements. Sitting with your back to an open window or football game could be your saving grace – if direct lighting and/or quick movements trigger your head.

Issue reminders: Family and friends want you to enjoy the holiday. If you know your aunt’s perfume or your cousin’s aftershave are triggers for you, politely ask them beforehand to skip those scents. If family or friends are bringing someone new, ask them to ask their guests to avoid heavy perfumes and such.

Avoid migraine foods: Keep tabs on what you eat and drink. In fact, try to refill your own drink to help you moderate. Stay away from foods you know will trigger your migraine, as tempting as they may be in the moment. Step back from the cheese and choose some fruit for your plate instead, for example. If you’re extremely sensitive to ingredients and traveling to the festivities, consider bringing your own food.

Take breaks: If the noise or the lights or the people or [fill in the blank] are too much, then take a break. Excuse yourself and find a moment to yourself. If you feel a migraine about to begin, grab an electrode and put on a CEFALY device. While the ACUTE setting is best to treat a migraine at the onset, if you don’t have a full hour, do as many minutes as you can. Actually, once your session is underway, push and hold the device to ramp up to your desired intensity then let go and spend a few minutes treating your migraine. Chances are you can eliminate it before it becomes more problematic.

Spending a few extra minutes before the festivities can make all the difference to your holiday.  Similarly, planning your exit strategy, could also be key. Stay long enough to enjoy the moment but short enough to allot for any necessary travel, account for time changes, and post-turkey sleepiness.

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