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Female migraine patient discussing the condition with her sympathetic healthcare provider

6 Skills You Need to Manage Chronic Migraine

Reading time | 4 mins

I have two full-time jobs: my regular nine-to-five and my job as someone living with chronic migraine.

Living with a chronic condition is like having a second career because of the time and effort that go into managing symptoms. The only difference is that I don’t get paid to manage my migraine.

Here are six skills I use to effectively manage my chronic migraine:

1. Networking

When you’re living with chronic migraine, finding others you can relate to is essential. Creating genuine, lasting friendships may take a lot of time and effort, but having someone who “gets it” can make all the difference on bad days.

2. Research

I’m seeing a great neurologist, but I still spend a lot of time researching migraine treatments. There are also diet changes to consider, holistic approaches to try, and much more. I like to stay on top of new information so that I don’t miss any potential chances for relief.

3. Positivity

Staying positive is necessary when you’re living with chronic migraine. You have to coach yourself to be optimistic when things don’t work out so that you have the strength to keep trying. All your hard work will pay off, although it may not be in the immediate future.

On days when it seems my “business” is failing, I do my best to keep a happy appearance. This allows me to stay afloat and show that I'm OK.

4. Organisation

Migraine is time consuming. I use a spreadsheet to keep track of my appointments and medications.

Some of the details I include on the spreadsheet are:

  • the date of treatment
  • the doctor or clinic
  • the type of procedure

I know little about the medications prescribed to me, but I know a lot about the importance of adhering to them. It’s not an easy feat, but staying on top of your treatment plan is vital to seeing an improvement in symptoms. Such responsibilities include:

  • keeping track of what you’re taking
  • making sure you’re taking it at the same time each day
  • making regular trips to the pharmacy to refill your prescription

Missing a step, no matter how small it seems, can greatly impact the effectiveness of whatever medication you’re taking and hinder your chances for relief.

5. Setting expectations

When I make plans, I make sure my friends are aware there’s a chance I’ll have to bail because of my condition. Having honest conversations like this can help take the pressure off so that you’re able to enjoy your time with them and feel less anxious about needing to cancel or leave early.

6. Understanding limitations

Taking time off is as valuable (and needed) as the work you put in. Sometimes, you need to reset! Although the breaks I take are short, they’re monumental to my mental health and help me stay sane.

This is especially true when I’m in the process of testing new medications. Since it can be really defeating to keep trying new treatments and not see results, I’ll sometimes hit the pause button before starting a new treatment to make sure I’m mentally prepared for a potential letdown.

To unwind, I’m a big fan of meditation or going for walks. I also love reading or watching TV when I’m feeling really sick.

The takeaway

When I started my migraine journey, I didn’t know the amount of time and effort I would need to put into managing the condition. It’s challenging at times, but all of the above skills are necessary to stay strong and live the best life I can.

NPS-IE-NP-00068 September 2022