Maybe you have a big report that is almost due or you are saving up your PTO for that family vacation you are taking later in the summer … Whatever the reason, for people who cannot afford to take a day off, getting a migraine at work can be a nightmare. Unfortunately, we have very little control over when a migraine will develop. And millions of hours of productivity are lost to migraines at work every year. So what’s a migraine sufferer to do? Follow these simple tips to help you get through your day at work with a migraine.
Tips for When You Have a Migraine at Work
Keep your medication handy
Whether you have a prescription, over the counter painkiller or prefer herbal remedies for migraine pain, be sure to have your desk stocked ahead of time with whatever your preferred migraine relief medication is.
Taking it as soon as you feel a migraine coming on can have a dramatic impact on the severity and duration of a migraine, thus helping you maximize your workday. Waiting until you are suffering from serious migraine pain is not a good idea.
If you want to make it through your day, listen to your body and do not be in denial about the fact that you are coming down with a migraine.
Be sure that the medication you are taking is non-sedating — you will not be productive at all if you are asleep! If you still have not found a medication or supplement that works for your migraine pain, talk to your doctor about what you have tried and get some recommendations for other remedies you can try.
Being well hydrated is key to toughing it out when you have a migraine at work. In fact, dehydration is a common migraine trigger.
The moment you feel a migraine coming on (or the moment after you take the medication as outlined in the above step), drink 16 ounces of water as quickly as you can.
Then be sure to keep on drinking water throughout the day. If you are able to, work near the water cooler. Or, keep a water bottle at your desk to encourage yourself to impulsively drink more water. Avoid sodas and other drinks that have a lot of sodium.
Turn out the lights
If you are lucky enough to have an office with a door, close it and turn off your lights. This can help minimize visual triggers that will exacerbate your migraine at work.
Having the door closed can help minimize noise disturbances. If there are windows in your office, consider installing blackout curtains or blinds to give yourself the ability to make the room even darker. If none of these options will be suitable for your work environment, consider sunglasses or something similar if you are able.
An ice pack on the back of your neck or on your forehead can do wonders for relieving a migraine at work. If you have an office refrigerator, consider keeping cold packs at the ready in the freezer.
Alternatively, you can stop in a restaurant to get a plastic bag filled with ice or a cold soda from a vending machine — just don’t drink it!
For some people, a light snack can be a helpful way to relieve their migraine at work, particularly if nausea if one of their symptoms.
While eating may be the last thing on your mind, having a light, healthy option on hand will make it that much easier.
Consider a cold apple or a whole-grain fortified cereal — some studies indicate that the riboflavin found in those cereals can be helpful for people who suffer from migraines.
Take a walk
Sometimes, particularly if the weather is nice outside, taking a brisk walk around the block can be helpful in treating a migraine at work.
Consider making that a normal part of your routine as well. Studies show that regular exercise can have a significant impact on reducing the frequency and duration of headaches.
Get a cup of joe
Do not go overboard, but the caffeine in a cup of coffee can have a moderating effect on your migraine at work. However, know your triggers because caffeine may also trigger migraines in some people.
Drinking too much coffee will also be a no-go … After you have had your single cup, stick to water the rest of the day.
Stop Suffering and See a Pain Management Provider
Are you at your wits end and need help creating a game plan for the days you have a migraine at work? During your next visit, be sure to ask one of our practitioners about tips for how to avoid migraines altogether, as well as other, personalized strategies for coping with a migraine at work.