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Migraine Stress Relief: Techniques to Relax and Unwind (2/2)

In our last blog, we learned about how stress can impact our migraine and when we should give migraine stress relief techniques a try. Today, we are taking a look at different exercises that can make a positive difference in both stress relief and stress prevention.

Breathing Exercises

Many relaxion exercises involve paying close attention to the way we breath. This encourages us to recognise our breathing patterns. Of course, breathing patterns vary. They may involve short, rapid breaths or long, slow breaths. Our breathing patterns can also be disrupted, especially when we experiences changes in emotion. However, if we learn to recognise and become familiar with our breathing patterns, it means we can easily identify any disruptions – and take action to help ourselves relax. Here are a few ways we can take control of our breathing and relieve stress:

  • Deep Breathing This breathing technique usually involves focusing on the physical movement that takes place when we breath. Try focusing specifically on the stomach, imagining a spot for you to breath into just below your belly button. As you breath in, picture the air rushing to that spot, and take note of how your stomach expands, before the air is slowly pushed out again and the stomach flattens.
  • Visualised Breathing – This involves using images alongside breathing to help you unwind. Make yourself comfortable and close your eyes. As you breathe in, imagine sunshine and calmness moving in through your nose. Imagine it slowly spreading down through your lungs and the rest of your body. When you breathe out, imagine any stress or pressure gently leaving your body. Don’t focus too much on your breathing – just keep up regular, deep and natural breaths.
  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation – Paying close attention to your body whilst you breathe can help you feel connected and in control. Whilst taking slow, deep breaths, scan over your body and notice any tension, such as pain from migraine. After noticing this tension, accept it and release it. Try moving your head and shoulders gently in circular motions, letting everything go.
A visual support for your breathing exercise: Follow the hot air balloon with your breath (Source: Headache Relief Guide).

Other Relaxation Techniques for Migraine Stress Relief

Besides breathing exercises, there are a number of ways to help relieve you of any migraine-related stress. These include:

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) – CBT is a type of talking therapy. It is often used to treat people experiencing for example anxiety, but it can also help people cope with the physical symptoms of any diseases they suffer from. Like the breathing exercises above, CBT is based on the belief that the mind and the body are connected. In CBT sessions, you will focus on your thoughts and feelings, including how to turn any negative thoughts into positive ones.
  • Meditation – You have probably heard of this technique, and with regular practice meditation can really help you control your responses to your thoughts and feelings (including migraine pain). You can either meditate without instruction or by listening to guided sessions. Whichever way you choose, meditation will encourage you to pause and focus on one specific thing like your breathing or the sounds, smells, and feelings around you. By becoming aware of your physical presence, this technique helps you to allow any tension to pass by.
  • Yoga – Combining controlled breathing and stretches, yoga helps to release any physical and mental tension by focusing on balance and mindful thinking.
Sources

WebMD on Relaxation Techniques for Migraines and Headaches

NHS on Migraine Causes

Headache Relief Guide on Relaxation and Breathing

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