Stress Management

Life Out of Control? Learn Stress Management & Anxiety Reduction

Managing stress is important in controlling headache frequency. But managing headaches is also essential. Headaches can exert a significant toll on everyday life.

Relationships can suffer—one study found that in 30% of cases, migraine sufferers reported tension with a spouse due to their migraine headaches, and 24% reported that sexual relations were impaired.

In a 1999 UK survey, 58% of migraine sufferers reported that migraines prevented them from maintaining a sexual relationship—this survey was of both sexes, not just women, it is important to stress. In a 1998 study, it was found that 10% of migraine sufferers who are parents reported losing patience with a child during a migraine attack, 22% felt that their children sought more attention because of their headaches, and 94% reported that their migraines interfered with parent/child activities.

So don't let your headaches run your life—and don't let your stress ramp your headaches up and out of control.

Do You Have Good Ways To Manage Stress?

We all have stress in our lives. It is not possible to do away with it. We can't even really control it all. We can learn to manage stress, though. Here are some ways to cope:

  • Learn better time-management skills.
  • Become more organized.
  • Learn to delegate.
  • Practice yoga.
  • Regular massages.
  • Relaxation therapy.
  • Biofeedback.
  • Meditation.
  • Have more fun.

Stress Management Techniques

The following are strategies that have been found in studies to work effectively for migraine management. 

Biofeedback is a way of using your body's own information – heart rate,blood pressure, skin temperature, or muscle tension to retrain your system and reduce headache frequency. It is noninvasive.

Relaxation training focuses on methods of instruction in relaxing specific muscle groups systematically. This helps you relax in general, as well as targeting muscles which may be tightening up and acting as headache triggers. The goal is to achieve a general feeling of calmness. It is considered both a physical and a psychological form of treatment.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a form of psychotherapy that addresses unhelpful thoughts and beliefs, misperceptions, and faulty learning that can result in anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and being "stuck" in one's pain. It focuses on behavioral strategies to enhance coping skills, alleviate emotional distress, and promote positive change.

There is also a difference between regular everyday stress and the kind that is unusual and unhealthy. Sometimes this comes from problems you are having in your life, sometimes it comes from things in your past that are affecting your health now, and sometimes it just comes from coping with chronic headache pain.

There are specialized techniques for dealing with this kind of psychological stress in addition to the above:

  • Cognitive therapy
  • When appropriate, marital or family counseling
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Psychotherapy