Though it’s commonly thought that migraines are largely influenced by what we eat, it’s now been proven that food actually accounts for only one factor. Migraines can come on for a variety of reasons – if you are a migraine sufferer and still cannot work out what brings them on, keeping a lifestyle diary might help you identify some triggers.
1. A real paper diary
Get into the habit of using pen and paper. This diary will help make connections between possible cause and effect and noting things manually helps you remember them.
It doesn’t have to be a conventional desk diary. In fact, it’s better if you stick to a soft-cover notebook that’s portable. It makes it easier to file and store them. Just write down the date at the top of every entry.
2. The content
If this diary is to be useful, you have to put down details of your day. So, it can’t simply be a to-do list or a task-oriented memo of some kind. Note the weather, your meals, whether you got enough sleep, your workload that day, any unusual circumstances and so on.
If you had a perfectly ordinary day, out that down that too. As much as you put down would-be causes, you also want to note what you did right.
A simple system to start you off would be to make a list of the key events and tasks of the following day. As the day goes along, make notes about each event and how it went.
Was it smooth? Did you find fulfillment in it? Maybe there were unexpected bumps and you didn’t have the resources to deal with them. Did you like your lunch? How did you feel after it?
The idea is to look for common factors on all the days that you had migraines. Bear in mind that this could take some weeks because most people have more than one trigger.
3. Keep three diaries
Put one where you normally sit at home and one on your desk at the office. Carry the third one with you. It may seem like overkill, but when you’re trying to form the habit of taking meticulous notes, you’ll have to make it as convenient for yourself as possible.
Eventually, you’ll figure out where you’re most like to make these notes and you’ll whittle it down to one book.
4. During migraines
Making these notes when you’re having a migraine is simply not realistic, so have a back-up system in place. Get someone in your home to take some notes while you dictate. You want to keep this as short as possible so just come up with some keywords to jog your memory later. When you’re better, fill in the blanks.
It’s hardly surprising that stress rears its ugly head when it comes to this painful, debilitating condition. When making notes, mark events that you found particularly stressful. It doesn’t have to be logical. If you’re tense about a presentation and haven’t slept a wink, you’re going to find most things in the day stressful.
Score each one on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest level of stress you’ve ever felt. Then take note of which events trigger your migraines and work on stress management during those situations.
Keeping a lifestyle diary takes a bit of work in the beginning. However, once the habit is formed, you’ll have a whole range of clues as to what triggers the incapacitating head pain and what you need to do to keep it at bay.