Have the pain and discomfort of a migraine ever caused you to miss a family outing or special event?
This can soon become an all-too-familiar pattern for people with episodic migraine (up to 14 headache days a month). For those with chronic migraine (15+ a month), it can be an even bigger disruptor, causing them to miss work duties, schoolwork, and other day-to-day activities for several days each month, often over a long period of time.
Leisure activities, extracurriculars, seeing family and friends — all may be impacted, as an individual with episodic or chronic migraine spends time focused on just feeling better.
Dr. Dawn Buse, a researcher and faculty member at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, notes that “the effects of migraine can spread further, like ripples in a pond. Family members…can be very impacted by migraines. The person with migraines may not be able to participate in family roles and responsibilities. This can affect everything from daily household routines and activities to canceling or not being able to plan a family vacation or major event.”
In a study in which Dr. Buse collaborated, researchers asked participants who had either chronic or episodic migraine how their lives would be different if they had no migraines.
Episodes of pain can be frustrating, disappointing, even demoralizing if they make you pull away from family and friends or if you’re concerned that your absences may cause hard feelings. This difficulty in coping may have a negative impact on your mental health and calls for you to focus on your social wellness.
Social wellness includes the relationships we build with others and our interactions with them. It encompasses many things, from your casual interactions with strangers in your community to your tighter bonds with friends and family. Several different models of wellness defined by researchers typically feature social wellness as a key dimension in maintaining our holistic wellness and improving our quality of life.
Building a social support network can help improve self-esteem, prevent the harmful effects of social isolation and loneliness, and buffer the adverse effects of negative life events. Essentially, having people in your corner and tending to these social relationships helps to keep you well.
What can you do if migraine days make it challenging for you to maintain and nurture your social relationships? Here are a few tips:
Keep Your Ties to Friends and Family. Dr. Buse emphasizes that communication is key: “It is important to speak openly with family and friends about your experience with migraine. Let people around you know how they can help you and accept help when it is offered…This can help loved ones feel more knowledgeable and empowered about how they can help, which makes everyone feel better.”
Keep people in the loop about what a migraine looks and feels like for you in your daily life. If loved ones comprehend what you’re experiencing, they may also be able to help maintain the social bond. For example, if lack of sleep triggers your migraines, friends or family members may be able to help, by planning outings that end earlier or by understanding why you might need to step away for a bit.
Also, stay connected with others even apart from social activities. Write a note to a friend or loved one to let them know you’re thinking of them. Send someone a small gift. Or send a quick, thoughtful text to keep close and connected.
Connect with Those Who Share Your Experience with Migraine. Expand your social connections to include people faced with challenges similar to yours.
Join a migraine support group that gives you the opportunity to share experiences, learn coping strategies, and simply find strength in numbers. Members may also have personal advice to offer on their own search for appropriate treatments, their coping mechanisms, and their approaches to interaction with family and friends during migraine days.
Migraine headaches can make it difficult to function during the day. If you find that episodic or chronic migraine is negatively affecting relationships with your partner, family members, friends, or coworkers, the time may be right to seek help.
A headache specialist may recommend certain lifestyle modifications to your sleeping patterns or diet, or suggest various stress management techniques.With proper care and attention from a qualified healthcare provider, you can live happy and well, despite migraine.
Everyone’s experience with migraine is unique to them. Mable’s worldwide team of leading migraine experts focuses on bringing you positive change, with effective, individualized treatments tailored to alleviate your specific symptoms, decrease your headache frequency, and return you to the lifestyle you love.
Mable could be the right approach for you. Take our 2-minute quiz and see.