Migraine and Hobbies

Do you have a hobby?  Does it help you cope with migraine, or chronic daily headache?

I decided to do something drastic this month, and actually write, on topic, for the Headache & Migraine Disease Blog Carnival.  You can guess what this month’s topic is — How do your hobbies help you cope with your headache disorder?

My hobby of putting on pyrotechnical laser light shows for my heavy metal band while I play the drums has always helped me cope with migraine.  Just kidding.

All right, so not every hobby is exactly conducive to someone with migraine.  There’s no doubt that my lifestyle is influenced by migraine.

But seriously, how can hobbies help?  For one thing, hobbies are simply a source of enjoyment (in theory).  And perhaps they can help you feel a sense of accomplishment, when you don’t feel like you’re accomplishing a lot of other things in life.

I certainly have enjoyed various hobbies, and here are some things I’ve learned when it comes to having a hobby with migraine — let’s put them in the form of questions you can ask when choosing a hobby:

  • Is it migraine/headache inducing?  All right, so that’s an obvious one.  But believe it or not, many of us do end up doing things that simply make our condition worse.
  • Will I be able to do this while I already have nasty symptoms?  Don’t get me wrong – I realize there are times when you can do nothing – not even sit up.  I’ve been there many times.  But if you have many hours in a week or month when you can still do something, even though you can’t carry on with normal activities, maybe there’s something you can still do (read, write, listen to music, listen to a podcast…).
  • Is it therapeutic?  Some hobbies not only aren’t migraine-inducing, they can help.  All right, many hobbies can help just because they’re hobbies.  But some people find something like gardening therapeutic.  Or perhaps learning to cook healthier meals.  Think about it.
  • Will this enrich my life?  It’s nice to have some kind of a sense of accomplishment, especially for someone struggling with chronic symptoms.  Will I learn something useful?  Create something beautiful?
  • Can I help someone else with my hobby?  Another great therapy – helping someone.  If you can bake, start finding someone to bake for.  Make it a surprise, of course – no deadlines!
  • Do I enjoy this?  Obviously important.
  • Is this an expensive hobby over time?  That’s all right if you can afford it, but if you’re already struggling with medical expenses you might want to think of something more economical.
  • Is there someone else I can enjoy this hobby with?  Again, the idea here is not to put pressure on you (I’ll never play the piano as well as Michelle.  Once again I can’t get together with Tim to work on the hot rod.).  The idea is just to share.  So maybe there’s a family member who understands, or a best friend.  Maybe you can find someone online, or even sell your creations online.  Or maybe you can even forge a friendship with someone else who has a chronic illness.
Gardening

Music

Photography

Pottery

Model Trains

Hey, that last one is a great idea.  Why don’t we start talking now?

Do you have headache or migraine, and a hobby?  How has it helped you?  Leave a comment and tell us about it! 🙂

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9 comments… add one
  • Teresa Oct 7, 2010

    My hobby during a low grade migraine is to have sex… yep, you read it right. It’s relaxing, calming and it seems to sometimes help with the pain. It also will divert my migraine brain to thinking about something that is exciting, fun, satisfying and often it does help. Not trying to be rated x or anything but surely I can’t be the only one that does this? Now when I get the morbid migraines, I’m unable to function, period.

    • Nadia Oct 17, 2010

      Many of my low-mid grade migraines disappear or are greatly diminished through intercourse if I orgasm. No orgasm= no relief.
      I think the pleasure is in direct contrast to the pain and helps to offset the symptoms.

  • Nikki Oct 13, 2010

    It is wierd that my shrink insists to me that people cannot read when they have a migraine… to which I say, umm, I worked when I had migraines, how much more brain power do i need? What she was getting at was that reading, focusing and such, may make the migraine worse… and such, not the best hobby. But like everything else in life pain is relative and distracting myself in a deeply entertaining fluff novel works for me… provided I am in a comfortable position, have indirect light and wear my migraine reading glasses. I told her it is not like I focus word by word, I read insanely fast and as such more of a skim reader. Granted sometimes the pain is too much and sometimes the visual aura is too much, but that can be said for anything. If it works, do it and if it doesn’t then don’t. (same goes for sex, Teresa! A well known migraine abortive!)

  • Deanna Oct 21, 2010

    I have recently gotten into photography big time. There have been a times when I’ve gone to a location and shot for hours when I realize I’m starting to get a headache that will likely turn into a migraine if I don’t act quickly with meds. I’ve taken the lowest dose possible of either Fiorinal or Zomig depending on which I thought was appropriate and neither have helped. I figured out that this is because I’ve been so into the photography that I’ve not even noticed how truly bad the headache has gotten and that it’s already become a migraine for me, so by the time I took the small dose I should have been taking the full dose. It’s not until I’ve stopped for the day/night and gotten into the car that it all hits me. Photography is almost a pain reliever in the distraction that it provides for me.

  • Sally Oct 21, 2010

    When I feel early migraine symptoms, I find that exercise is a good way to kick up my body’s natural pain killers. Walking briskly in fresh air is a hobby that I’ve enjoyed all my life, whether or not I have a migraine coming on, so it’s not only good for my acute symptoms, but also keeps my blood pressure low and my body in shape. I walk with my husband, who finds it his main form of decompressing. So it’s also good four our relationship and for his physical and mental health,

  • Claire Oct 23, 2010

    I love hula hoop dancing and Nia dance and yoga. Centering and fun and healthy. But I certainly can’t move that much when I’m migranous. The flowing nature is soothing. And of course my favorite music is playing while I hoop! Music helps me a LOT. Many people use hooping to help them with depression. See hooping.org or search “hoop path” for more info on that.

  • Chris Oct 26, 2010

    Hi ladys,

    I like the sex one also. I play video games. I’ve played since I was a kid but what I play is alot different. I play games I can pick up and play and don’t have think real hard. I’ve merged two passions together and play sports games. My gamer tag on xbox 360 is migraine247. Migraine 247 (couldn’t put a / between 24/7) is funny I think.

  • Chris Dec 7, 2010

    Although exercising too hard can trigger a migraine, I’ve found that moderate exercise makes me feel better for at least a little while. I always feel better with cool air on my head than I do indoors.

  • angela Jul 26, 2014

    Oh yes, sex, but it tends to wear out your fellow. I have to have a distraction so I get moving and clean while I think of my next plan of action. I garden, fine-art paint, dance, meditate, yoga, walk the dogs, write, go to the air conditioned mall (even though the cost of medications leaves me broke and unable to buy anything) and generally anything that keeps me from thinking about this current episode of pain. I am chronic and I am exhausted and people ask me how I do it, thinking I have this incredible drive, but I see it as I’m forced into a marathon that is not of my choice. SInk or swim. I am blessed to have the choice of distraction.

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