Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Migraine: Just Relax



As a migraineur I have a tool box from which to pull from, in managing my life. Even if I may not be able to manage my headaches, I can still take control of how I deal with the situation. My headaches seem to strike me down at will. Knowing how to relax and practicing is one of the tools I use to get past the pain.

I have quite a few tools in my box. One of these is the use of relaxation techniques. Relaxing was not something I thought I had to teach myself. Sometimes I think I am relaxed, when I'm really not. I can sit in a chair "relaxing", and suddenly realize that my teeth are clinched, or my toes are curling. I've found that relaxation is something I have to do on a continual basis or my body forgets how to do it easily. I try to relax at least once every day for about 10 to 15 minutes.

I usually use, what I refer to as the "Warm Hands" technique. I don't know if that is what it is really called or not. Maybe someone reading this knows? I either sit up straight in my chair or lie down on the bed. I close my eyes and concentrate on making each part of my body heavy and relaxed. I start with my feet. I work my way up to legs, hands and arms, neck and shoulders, and even my face. I've got to work in order to wipe the scowl from my brow.

Each part of my body gets attention as I breath in and out of my mouth very slowly. I repeat to myself, "My feet are heavy, my feet are heavy" until they are relaxed and feel heavy. Then I go on, to the next body part.

After I feel truly relaxed, I concentrate on my hands and repeat, "My hands are warm, my hands are warm" to myself until I can feel the warmth rising in my hands. Theoretically, this makes the blood rush to my hands and decreases the amount of blood in my head. Less blood in my head means that the inflammation of blood vessels and nerve endings is decreased.

I take my time doing this. Each body part can take fifteen seconds to a full minute. After I've concentrated on each body part, I go down the checklist and make sure that, in fact, each body part is relaxed.

I have learned several relaxation techniques that help me to deal with the pain. I use one or more of them every day. By doing this daily, it is easier for me to relax when I am hit with a migraine. When the pain starts, I tell myself, "Just Relax".