The COVID-19 pandemic has changed almost every aspect of our daily lives, including how we work, study, and interact with each other. For starters, a recent survey showed that before the pandemic, only one in five employed Americans worked from home. Now, more than 70 percent of those workers are working from home all or of most of the time. A significant number of school and university students are also learning from home part or full-time. That means that we are relying on our devices more than ever to work and stay connected with friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, and more.
For migraine sufferers, this shift has been both a blessing and a curse. Under normal working conditions, more than 90 percent of migraineurs said they were unable to work or function normally during an attack. In fact, it is estimated that over 157 million workdays are lost every year in the U.S because of migraines. Migraines can be so disabling that many sufferers qualify for accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which, among other things, allows them to work from home occasionally.
For people with migraines, some of the perks of working from home include more control over their triggers (aka no bright overhead lighting or strong co-worker’s perfumes), fewer distractions, and more comfort. But working remotely doesn’t come without its challenges. Increased screen time, lack of childcare, poor posture caused by an inappropriate workspace, and changes in diet, sleep, and exercise are just a few of the triggers migraine sufferers have to deal with nowadays.
Take a break when you need to
The pandemic has blurred the lines between work and home life for many of us. We work at strange hours, skip meals, and, since we are working from home, we tend to take up more workload than we used to. If you are getting more migraines that last longer than usual, it may be time to create a routine and put time aside for regular breaks and rest.
There’s no secret formula for how many breaks you should take or how long they should last. Just make sure you schedule adequate time to eat (no skipping meals or eating at your desk while working!), go for a short walk, stretch, and walk away from your electronic devices for a few minutes. Also, don’t try to “push through” a migraine to get work done; it will worsen the headache and make it last longer.
Limit screen time when you can
It is estimated that up to 90 percent of migraine sufferers experience photophobia or sensitivity to light, and the blue light emitted from phone and computer screens can be particularly triggering. Here are some things that may help:
- Adjust the brightness of your screen: it shouldn’t be brighter than the light around you. If you work in a dark environment, consider getting a lamp to even out the light sources.
- Invest in an anti-glare screen cover: or consider getting eyeglasses with anti-glare lenses.
- Sit at least 2 feet away from the screen.
- Talk to your employer about accommodations: don’t hesitate to ask your employer for accommodations you may need, like screen time limits or a better screen.
Get some fresh air
Being “cooped up” inside for extended periods can increase feelings of loneliness and isolation, which are liked to higher risks for physical and mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety – both big migraine triggers.
Stepping out into fresh air increases your oxygen levels, helping dilate blood vessels in the lungs and promoting tissue reparation. It is also a great opportunity to step away from the screen, rest your eyes and calm the mind. The benefits of fresh air are extensive.
Build a migraine rescue kit
A migraine rescue kit is a homemade pack of all the items you find helpful. It saves you time from having to run around looking for these items including a cold pack during those first precious minutes before a full-blown migraine strikes. Migraine kits are very personal and should include the things that work for you.
Here are some items you may want to consider including in your kit:
- Medication: at least two doses of your rescue and prevention medication.
- Eye protection: sunglasses, blackout sleep mask, etc.
- Nutritional Supplements: such as MigreLief Original or MigreLief-NOW.
- Ear protection: earplugs, noise-canceling headphones, etc.
- Anti-nausea treatment: ginger tea, ginger candy, motion sickness medication, etc.
- Essential oils: peppermint oil, rosemary, lavender, etc. All-in-one migraine roller sticks are convenient and easy to use.
- Water bottle: hydration is key when you have migraines, so don’t forget to keep a water bottle near and drink plenty of water throughout the day.
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