7 Tips to Help You Avoid a Migraine During the Holidays

If you’re someone who struggles with migraine, the holiday season can bring more dread than joy with a rise in painful headaches. However, following a few key strategies can reduce the likelihood of migraine attacks so you can enjoy the festivities with family and friends.

Tips to Avoid a Migraine During the Holidays

1. Keep an eye on what you eat.

Holiday feasts are a highlight of the season, but be mindful of what you eat. For starters, keep artificial sweeteners and caffeine to a minimum and try to avoid foods that contain the additive monosodium glutamate (MSG), which is a potential migraine trigger.1 Instead, opt for fresh, whole foods and avoid processed meals and snacks, including chips, fast food, frozen dinners, and instant noodles. Also, be careful with processed meats and aged cheeses because they usually contain the chemical tyramine, another known migraine trigger.2 If you’re unsure about a dish’s ingredients, don’t be afraid to ask the host—it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

2. Drink lots of water to stay hydrated.

Dehydration is another common migraine trigger. With all the hustle and bustle of holiday preparations and events, it’s easy to forget to drink enough water. Make a conscious effort to stay hydrated throughout the day. Carry a reusable water bottle and take sips regularly, even if you don’t feel thirsty. If you’re prone to forgetting, set an alert on your phone to remind you every 30 minutes.

3. Opt for little or no alcohol in your cup.

While a glass of wine or a festive cocktail can be enjoyable during the holidays, alcohol consumption may lead to painful migraines. For some, it could be the amount of alcohol consumed that triggers an attack. For others, it may be the type of alcohol. Some people have a higher sensitivity to certain components commonly found in alcoholic drinks. Red wine, for example, is the most migraine-provoking kind of alcohol as it contains tannins (which are thought to trigger migraine).

If you choose to drink, do so in moderation. If you experience migraines after drinking any kind of alcohol, the best solution is to avoid alcohol altogether. Swap your alcoholic drink with a fun mocktail instead!

4. Try to stick to your regular sleep schedule.

Irregular sleep patterns can wreak havoc on your migraine-prone brain. While it’s tempting to stay up late wrapping gifts or attend every holiday event on the list, try to maintain a consistent sleep schedule as much as possible. Aim for seven to nine hours of quality sleep each night to keep your migraines at bay. If you need to make an appearance at an event that starts later, there is nothing wrong with making your rounds and then ducking out to ensure you get the rest you need.

5. Plan ahead and prioritize stress management.

Almost 70% of people with migraine identify stress as a trigger. In one study, 50-70% of people associated their daily stress level with their daily migraine activity.3 Make time for relaxation and self-care throughout the holiday season. Practice deep breathing exercises, meditate, or take a few moments to unwind with a good book or a warm bath—do whatever works for you. Finding time for yourself when you have a packed schedule may seem challenging, but prioritizing your mental health means you’ll be less likely to experience migraine attacks.

Another way to avoid stress is to stay organized. Don’t wait until the last minute for your holiday shopping or preparations. Create a to-do list and tackle tasks one at a time. Don’t be afraid to delegate responsibilities and ask for help when needed.

6. Know your limits.

It is okay to say no. You don’t have to attend every holiday gathering or event. Overcommitting can lead to exhaustion and increased stress, both of which can trigger migraines, as we mentioned earlier. Prioritize the events and activities that are most important to you and your loved ones, and politely decline the rest.

7. Prevent migraines from the get-go.

One of the best ways to avoid a migraine during the holiday season is to take preventative measures. gammaCore™ non-invasive vagus nerve stimulator (nVNS) is a portable, handheld device that works to prevent migraine pain with quick and easy, four-minute treatment sessions twice daily, and you can do it yourself at home.

Despite your best efforts, a migraine can still creep up on you. The good news is that you can use gammaCore nVNS up to 24 times daily to help treat unexpected attacks, making it easier to enjoy the holiday season to its fullest.

To see if gammaCore is right for you, visit our clinic finder to locate a health care provider near you, or contact our dedicated Customer Experience team at 888-903-2673 or customerservice@electrocore.com.

1. Obayashi, Y., & Nagamura, Y. (2016). Does monosodium glutamate really cause headache? : A systematic review of human studies. The Journal of Headache and Pain, 17(54). https://doi.org/10.1186/s10194-016-0639-4
2. (2007, October 5). Tyarmine. National Headache Foundation. Retrieved September 26, 2023, from https://headaches.org/tyramine/
3. (2017, July 27). Top 10 Migraine Triggers and How to Treat Them. American Migraine Foundation. Retrieved September 26, 2023, from https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/resource-library/top-10-migraine-triggers/