I only learned about self-care when I was already deep into my migraine journey. My outlook on migraine and mental health had changed after years of failed treatments and disappointments.
Instead of focusing on treating the pain, I began looking within. I wanted to heal. What could I change to be healthier and happier?
I discovered that adding self-care practices to my daily routine can be helpful during stressful times and when I’m in pain. It also keeps my mind and body in a calm and restful state. I learned my body’s cues and how to respond to them.
Self-care has helped me to cope with daily migraine, chronic depression, and anxiety. Here’s how I engage in self-care every day.
Scan your body and set priorities
I do a body scan every morning when I wake up. How am I feeling? How much pain am I in? Do I feel rested or tired?
The answers to these questions help me to gauge what I can accomplish that day. I easily feel overwhelmed or stressed when too much is on my plate.
I give myself a maximum of three tasks per day. One task always includes taking care of my two dogs, emptying the dishwasher, and making a pot of coffee. The other two tasks depend on whether I have writing to do, errands to run, or dinner to cook. I make a goal to finish my tasks with time to unwind in the evening.
If I wake up and it’s a bad pain day, I don’t let myself get upset if I don’t get anything done. My health is more important than deadlines.
Breathe in, breathe out
It’s easy to forget to breathe with intention. Breathing in deeply from your diaphragm and breathing out with purpose is soothing.
Before I get out of bed in the morning, I take one minute to breathe in through my nose and out through my mouth. It sets the tone for the day.
If I feel tension building in my body during the day, I stop and do the same breathing exercise. It’s become second nature to me. Doing this eases my discomfort, stress, and pain. I repeat the same exercise before bed.
Be kind to yourself
I say the kindest things about my friends and family. But I’m not always kind and loving to myself.
Practicing self-kindness can be challenging, but we’re all worth it.
Living with multiple chronic illnesses made me feel guilty and ashamed. I had to learn to love myself despite my conditions. I realized I deserved happiness and acceptance.
When self-kindness is difficult, I turn to 10 to 15 minutes of guided meditation. It helps to shut down negative self-talk.
I sometimes catch myself having unkind thoughts about my appearance because I’m overweight. I try to find one thing about my body I don’t mind, like my curves. I remember that I wouldn’t say the same things to my best friend. I shouldn’t say them to myself.
Spend time doing the things you enjoy. It’s beneficial to your physical, emotional, and mental health. Investing in yourself is integral to self-care.
I treat myself to a massage or a manicure. I cook, decorate, and travel.
I want to get back into reading. I miss getting lost inside of a book. It’s my goal this summer.
Learn to say no
I said yes to every opportunity when I first became a patient advocate. I enjoyed my new role. But I soon burned out and felt overwhelmed by my new responsibilities. It negatively affected my health.
I began to say no to requests. It wasn’t easy. But I just didn’t have the bandwidth to do everything coming my way. That’s OK. Now I’m grateful that I learned to set priorities and say no.
Finding the time to incorporate self-care into your day can be challenging. But doing so boosts your mental health. It’s worth every minute.
For more information on how to manage migraine, reach out to your doctor or healthcare team.
MIG-US-NP-00141 JULY 2019