Navigating Social Events and Holidays

Sometimes it can feel like migraine keeps us from everything fun in life, including social events and holidays. But you deserve to enjoy life and be with the ones you love! Here are some tips to help you actually enjoy the next party or family dinner without worrying when migraine will hit (or get worse!).

1. Reduce stressors and triggers ahead of time

Take extra good care of yourself in the hours or days leading up to the event. Get plenty of sleep, eat enough food, drink enough water, and manage stress as well as you can. The idea is to keep your trigger load low so you aren’t as likely to be affected by circumstances you can’t control so you can focus on having fun (or getting through that family dinner). 

2. Bring food and/or drinks to share

Parties or dinners can be anxiety-inducing if you’re in the middle of an elimination diet or are trying to minimize certain food triggers. Luckily, focusing on the step above will greatly reduce the odds of you reacting to potential food triggers – so please try to let yourself enjoy at least some tasty snacks and dishes!

That being said, it’s not a bad idea to bring a snack, dish, and/or drink you know you do well with. This can be especially helpful when it comes to alcohol – bring a type of wine, beer, or liquor to share that sits well with you, or make a batch of fun mocktails for the group!

3. Remember to stay hydrated

This is especially important when drinking alcohol. The old “one glass of water for every glass of booze” rule is a good one to follow.

And speaking of alcohol, many people find that liquor is much easier on their migraine brain than beer and wine. Simple mixers like club soda, ginger beer, or a splash of juice are choices that most migraineurs do well with.

4. Bring ear plugs or sound-dampeners

This isn’t just a good idea for concerts and partie! Even family dinners can get noisy, and having some earplugs in your pocket will give you control over how much noise you’re exposed to. I love these sound dampening ear plugs because they let me hear conversation but keep loud noises at bay. Plus they’re almost impossible to see once you have them in!

5. Take breaks

Stealing 5 minutes every so often to take some deep breaths and relax is a great idea no matter the occasion. If you’re in an unfamiliar place, a trip to the bathroom will go unnoticed and is somewhere you can take a moment to come back to center.

6. Anticipate questions and be prepared with answers

Sometimes, saying no to that a glass of champagne or discretely popping an Imitrex can raise questions from nosy friends and family. While you certainly don’t owe them an explanation, sometimes having a simple, firm response makes your life easier. 

My go-to response when someone offers me Hershey’s chocolate, for example (a trigger for me 100% of the time) is “Thank you so much! Chocolate doesn’t always sit well with me so I’m going to pass.” If they insist, you can go with “You’re so sweet, but I’m good! Thank you”. Say it nicely but firmly, and then walk away! 

If someone asks you about migraine or a pill you’re taking and you don’t want to talk about it, a simple “I’m hanging in there, thanks for asking!” followed by a question about the other person will usually suffice. People love talking about themselves!

7. Bring your migraine kit

Your migraine kit was build for moments like these – make sure to bring it with you and either leave it in the car or stick it in your bag. If you’re traveling light, stick the essentials in your pocket, boot, or even bra if you have to – just don’t go out into the world without medication and whatever else you absolutely need if a migraine episode occurs. 

8. Know when to say no

It just plain sucks, but there are times when you’ll have to cancel plans due to migraine. There are also time when an event just doesn’t seem worth it – like that random co-worker’s kid’s 3rd birthday party. Do you really need to (or want to) go to that? The choice is always yours. Say no to things you don’t actually want to do so you have more time and energy for the things that matter.

Published by Kelli Yates, RDN, LD, CLT

Kelli Yates, RDN, LD, CLT is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist specializing in holistic migraine management and fellow migraineur!

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