There is so much I wish I know about minimising and avoiding migraines when I first started experiencing regular migraines. Here is what I would tell my 17-year old self:
1. The migraine brain is sensitive and needs special care. There will be times when you won’t be able to push yourself as hard as others. You need to find a balance between work, play and rest.
2. Food is your best friend. And also your worst enemy. Be careful with alcohol and caffeine. And sugar. Especially sugar. Your brain can’t handle wild blood sugar fluctuations. Be careful with artificial sweeteners, even stevia. Eat regularly, focusing on quality protein and vegetables. Avoid processed crap. Get to know and understand your food intolerances.
3. Anxiety is normal with migraine. Practice self-care and self-love. Be gentle with yourself. Ensure you are well nourished with zinc, magnesium and B vitamins.
4. People around you may not understand your migraine. It is up to you to ensure your environment is migraine friendly with lighting, seating, noise levels, odours. If your work has artificial or fluorescent lighting, feel free to take out the light bulb above your desk and replace it with a soft desk lamp. Take days off when you need them. Avoid toxic people and toxic environments. Do whatever you need to keep your environment low-trigger.
5. Understand your early warning signs for migraine. Yawning. Change in mood. Cravings. Eye disturbances. Anxiety. Keep an eye on upcoming weather changes. As soon as you notice the signs, stop and take care of yourself. Protect yourself from triggers.
6. Build a team of health professionals around you. A good GP. A neurologist. Naturopath/nutritionist/herbalist (of course!). Physiotherapist. An understanding personal trainer or Pilates instructor. Chiropractor or osteopath. Not one single practitioner will have a cure or all the answers, but each will have something to offer which will help. Be responsible for your own health, but seek advice widely.
7. Keep hydrated, and your electrolytes balanced with mineral salts. Always have salt and ginger handy to stop an early attack. Drink extra water when you feel a migraine coming on.