People often wonder “where do I start” in managing migraine. I’m going to share my number one tip with you today: migraine tracking.
I believe tracking is essential in communicating with your physician, learning about your illness, and figuring out what works for you.
What should I keep track of?
The biggest thing I want you to take away from this is that any tracking is better than nothing. If you’re overwhelmed and struggling to get started, something as simple as putting a checkmark in your planner each attack day can be a wonderful place to start.
Things to include in your log:
- When the attack begins and ends
- Possible triggers
- Prodrome and aura symptoms
- Pain intensity
- Attack symptoms
- Whether you missed work, school, or social time
- Reliefs or medications tried (and whether they help)
How do I keep track of it all?
This is very personal and individualized. I’ll provide some ideas that have worked for me and the people I work with.
Phone applications are my favorite method! Since my iPhone is practically glued to my hand, it’s an extremely convenient method. They’re free, accessible, and educational. The application I use, “Migraine Buddy”, creates reports for you that show the helpfulness of your relief methods, your common triggers and symptoms, and more.
Getting a journal (or utilizing a page on your phone’s “notes” application) is another good method. It’s beginner-friendly and can be personalized to fit your needs.
Utilizing a print-out template is another great method. It’s a combination of the other two methods: you get to follow a formula and log everything you need to, but it’s low-tech and beginner-friendly.
How do I keep up with it though?
I’ve struggled with tracking for a couple reasons…
- With chronic migraine, you could be having symptoms literally every day. It gets so difficult to determine where attacks begin, end, or what separates one attack from the next.
- Creating a habit like this can be very challenging, especially in the context of your busy life with frequent pain.
- Keeping track of everything you need can be very overwhelming if you aren’t used to it or don’t really know which information is valuable.
Like I mentioned before, any information is better than no information. If you’re finding it difficult to track everything, something as simple as a checkmark to track the days you have pain is a good start.
Establishing a habit can be a challenge, and I could write a whole separate article on that topic, but I’ll share what has worked for me when it comes to beginning to track migraine attacks: habit stacking.
Essentially, habit stacking is a strategy to group small changes into part of your existing routine.
My habit stacking strategy was to sneak migraine tracking into my nighttime routine. When I get into bed, I make sure to open my “Migraine Buddy” right away.
Typically I scroll through social media for a bit or set up a bedtime meditation, but have created a habit to check in with my migraine tracker before doing those things.
Figure out a spot in your routine like this where you can check in to make sure you’re tracking each day (as needed).
How do I use my migraine log?
Keeping a log is essential in communicating with your physician, learning about your illness, and figuring out what works for you.
Many headache specialists and neurologists will require (or at least prefer) you track your migraine attacks. This can help them determine your diagnosis, treatment options, and more.
Tracking your attacks can help you learn more yourself as well. You will start to notice trends like yawning as a prodrome symptom, irregular sleep as a consistent trigger, and more. This helps you know what to look for and what triggers you may be able to avoid.
The more you learn about your illness, the more empowered you’ll be. It’ll become easier to seek help from physicians, communicate your needs to loved ones, and feel more comfortable in your skin.
And keeping a migraine log is the best place to start!
This is a topic we cover in my coaching program, the MEND Method. If you want more support, book a free discovery call with me to see if the MEND Method is right for you.