Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a method some migrainers choose to employ to help reduce the intensity and frequency of their migraine attacks; either at the same time as taking migraine medication, or in some cases, instead of taking pain medication.
Mindfulness is defined by Mark Williams, former director at the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, as knowing directly what is going on inside and outside of ourselves moment to moment, and that it is an antidote to the “tunnel vision” that can develop in our everyday lives. By becoming more aware sufferers of conditions such as migraines, anxiety or depression can identify early on any signs of stress or anxiety and similar, and then take steps to deal with them better.
Aside from personal recommendations, there have been some positive indications that mindfulness can help migrainers. A pilot study was run to investigate its effects. It involved 19 adult migraine patients who were randomly assigned to the usual care group, or to an 8-week MBSR program which involved weekly two-hour group sessions followed by a six-hour mindfulness retreat. It was found that the severity and length of all of the headaches in the MBSR group decreased.
Although a small study, it did give fairly good results, although more research will be needed. And as you don’t need to stop taking your normal medication in order to practice mindfulness as a management technique, it might be something you could try.
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