As it’s migraine awareness week and as someone who experiences migraine myself, I know how debilitating they can be. Mine tend to be silent, that is, a migraine without the pain, but over the years I have developed ways to use therapeutic sound and music as a way to reduce the frequency of attacks and these days I only get full-blown attacks when I ignore my own advice.
What is migraine?
According to the Migraine Research Foundation migraine is the 6th most disabling disease in the world and 1 person in every 10 experiences migraine. That’s HUGE! It used to be considered to be vascular, that is to do with a problem with blood flow in the brain. More recently it has been found that they may be as a result of the way that nerve cells that control blood circulation in the brain fire. This means that rather than migraine being completely vascular it is a neurovascular event.
How do I know I’m having one?
Many people will experience an ‘aura’ or ‘pre-dome’ event these can range from feeling hyper active and euphoric to seeing flashing lights, being sensitive to strong smells and loud sounds. This aura can be experienced a while before the pain actually begins (and in the case of the client type there is no pain at all). Many people feel pain on one side of the head sometimes accompanied by a throbbing or pulsing sensation, feel nauseous and can vomit.
What causes migraine?
It is not known exactly what causes migraines and for many people there are a combination of unique and individual factors that contribute to them getting a full-blown one. Some of the most common triggers are hormonal, dietary, physical tension (especially in the neck and shoulders) depression, anxiety and stress.
How can I ease my migraine?
When is comes to physical tension, emotional distress and mental stress and anxiety therapeutic sound and music can be really effective. As a sound therapist I also use mindfulness and breath work exercises as they work really well with sound and music when used in specific ways.
Remember to see your doctor immediately or go to the hospital if you have a sudden and severe headache or seizure.
The tips I’ll be giving are intended to be complementary to any medication you may be taking and are specifically designed to reduce stress and muscle tension and improve mood-state, some of the factors involved in triggering migraine.
Tips for easing migraine
- For Neck and Shoulder TensionSit comfortably with your feet on the floor. Breathe deeply into your belly. Scan through your body and notice if there are any tense parts, how do you visualise them? I tend to see mine as a coiled spring, but some people see dark clouds or iron bars for example. Take a breath and breathe into the area of tension, visualising you breathing out the tension when you exhale but instead of just breathing make the sound ‘AHHH’ like a loud sigh. Try to make it low in pitch so you can feel it vibrating in your body. Do this for a few minutes and visualise the spring uncoiling, or the clouds becoming lighter or melting away.
- Headache, stress and auraSit comfortably with your feet on the floor. Breathe deeply into your belly. Scrunch your toes in your shoes or better still get out into the garden, beach or park, take off your shoes and get your tootsies into the earth! Gently scrunch them around, reminding you of where you are at this moment in time. Keep breathing into your belly and focusing on your feet. The long and steady breathing reduces stress and concentrating on your feet brings a busy mind into the present moment and is grounding.
- Try a SoundbathThe BAST method of soundbathing has been specifically designed to give the mind and body a rest. A regular soundbath can be really beneficial for reducing stress, anxiety, muscle tension, pain and therefore alleviate many stress and tension related health conditions including migraine. You can try using our own soundbath track to help with this.
Have you found this article useful? Please let me know or comment on how the exercises have helped you. Written by Lyz Cooper
Want more information on Migraine?
See this great infographic from Positive Health Wellness
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