Stress and emotional triggers


Migraine and stress are strongly linked. Relaxing can trigger a migraine attack, so too can anxiety, excitement, and any form of tension and shock. In most cases, this will be unavoidable, as we don’t ask other people to upset us. If there is something stressful in your life, whether it is work, or family, or anything else, try and deal with the problem as soon as possible so you can more effectively manage your migraine. There’s no point in ‘sucking it up’ and making yourself sick in the process.

Stress triggered migraine is particularly troublesome when dealing with migraine-related anxiety. People with migraine are often trying to regulate their lives, avoid triggers, and frequently lookout for the next attack’s first signs. Being ‘on guard’ like this all the time leads to anxiety. So, if anxiety is a trigger for you, it can lead to an endless cycle of migraine attacks and anxiety. Get help from a psychologist (you can get a mental health care plan from your GP to see a psychologist under Medicare). Acknowledge your anxiety for what it is – part of migraine, and have a plan to deal with it when the over-thinking and unreasonable fears start to creep in.



Too much, too little, and broken sleep can all be a migraine trigger. Going to bed late, getting up early or late, even if you have a good night’s sleep, can also trigger a migraine attack. Again, the key here is routine: have a set bedtime, and get up simultaneously.

Check if your phone or watch has a bedtime function that will tell you when to go to bed, when to get up, and automatically put your devices into ‘do not disturb’ mode in between.



Some people find that changes in their routine can contribute to a migraine. For example, changing sleep patterns or changes caused by long journeys can precede an attack. Many people complain that they get migraines at the weekend, or when they go on holiday. Without the daily grind of getting up and going to work or getting the kids off to school, you may have a lie-in, not have your usual morning coffee, eat at different times, or you may go out and do something you wouldn’t normally do. Alternatively, it may feel that you have relaxed from your everyday stressful life, and it is relaxing that triggers the migraine attack.

There’s nothing wrong with enjoying or weekends or holidays! If you find your migraine attacks strike just as you start to unwind for the weekend, you may want to consider still getting up and having breakfast at your standard weekday time to ensure you start the day right. Or, if going on a big holiday, you might want to transition or taper your routine into the holiday by allowing yourself to sleep in a little more each day. If it is relaxing that triggers your migraine attacks, consider some lifestyle changes to relax more during the week, or consider exercising in the morning of your weekends to get the heart rate up just like work would. Finding consistency is vital.

Read more about Saturday or Weekend Migraine.

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  • Alissa Gigliotti
    published this page in Triggers 2021-03-11 16:40:56 +1000