Migraine and Meditation: How Can This Practice Relieve Pain?

To help relieve migraine symptoms, some people turn to meditation or other mindfulness practices. While more research is needed, mindfulness practices can help you manage the effects of migraine.

It can be especially helpful to combine mindfulness practices with other treatments, such as migraine medications prescribed by your doctor.

Meditation could help you manage migraine

There are many types of meditation. Many of them relate to mindfulness practices which is a psychological process in which you focus your awareness on the present moment.

Mindfulness practices help cultivate mindfulness by drawing your attention to your current thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations, and environments.

In addition to migraine treatments, mindfulness practices could help:

  • reduce stress
  • improve pain tolerance
  • reduce the frequency of headaches
  • reduce the intensity of symptoms
  • reduce medication use
  • improve the quality of life

Also including progressive muscle relaxation, which is a practice in which you consciously relax the muscles in your body.

General benefits of meditation

Meditation and mindfulness practices have also been associated with more general benefits for general well-being.

While these potential benefits are not directly related to migraine, they can improve other aspects of your health. In turn, this could facilitate the daily management of migraine.

Practicing meditation or other mindfulness practices might help:

  • boost your immune system
  • improve the quality of your sleep
  • promote positive emotions
  • relieve stress and depression
  • sharpen your memory, attention and decision-making skills
  • boost your self-esteem, body image and resilience
  • foster compassion for yourself and others

How to start meditation

There are many ways to incorporate meditation or other mindfulness practices into your daily or weekly routine. For example, consider trying one of these approaches.

Practice rhythmic breathing

Get into a comfortable position, sitting in a chair or lying down. Loosen tight clothes, close your eyes, and consciously relax your muscles.

When you are comfortable, begin to breathe in slowly through your nose for a count to six. Then hold your breath for 4 seconds. Then breathe out slowly through your mouth this time for 6 seconds.

Continue this rhythmic breathing pattern for several minutes or more. When you find your mind wandering to other thoughts or feelings, gently bring your attention back to your breathing. Notice the feeling of air coming in and out of your body. Notice how your stomach rises and falls with each breath.

Take a meditative walk

Put on a pair of shoes like sneakers, find a trail or spot you enjoy, and take a leisurely walk.

When you start to walk, focus on the sensations you feel in your feet and ankles. Pay attention to the feel of your heels hitting the ground. Notice the weight transfer from your heels to your toes. Allow your awareness to tune with the movements of your muscles.

Then shift your focus to your legs. Concentrate on the feeling of relaxation and contraction of the muscles of your calf. Gradually shift your awareness to the knees and thighs.

Slowly work your body in the same manner, focusing on each part of the body for about a minute. When you reach your face, pay special attention to how the wind, sun, or other elements feel on your skin.

Download a meditation app

For more meditative exercises, consider downloading a guided meditation app. For example, one of the following applications may be useful to you: Petit Bambou, Mind, Headspace

These are just a few of the many apps available to help you integrate meditation and other mindfulness practices into your daily life.

Consider setting aside time in your daily or weekly calendar for meditative practices such as walking or guided meditation. You may find that it makes a positive difference in your migraine symptoms or your overall quality of life.

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