The 4-Step Guide to Growing in Your Life with Migraine

Exploring Solutions | 7 Min. Read
Author: Ctrl M Health Migraine Team
Reviewed by: Ctrl M Health Medical Directors

Summary

  • Migraine can leave you feeling stuck in place. But fixating on pain and helplessness makes migraine worse. A growth mindset, however, allows you to make progress.
  • Self-Discovery helps you evaluate your values and decide what’s important to you.
  • Building Motivation gives you the extra gas you need for overcoming obstacles and setbacks.
  • Letting Be helps you develop acceptance around the things you can and cannot control.
  • Committing to Action allows you to make proactive, deliberate choices toward your goals.

Full Article

It’s easy to hyperfocus on the things that aren’t going our way. Especially with migraine, which can leave us feeling stuck in cycles of pain and suffering, we often measure our failures far more than our successes. When this pattern keeps repeating, the brain gets stuck in a rut. It can lead to a fixed mindset: the belief that nothing is going to change or improve. Unfortunately, this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, because fixating on pain and helplessness is known to increase migraine.

A growth mindset, on the other hand, reduces suffering and encourages active coping, so you can make progress. But when you’ve become stuck in unhelpful thought patterns, it can be hard to know how to begin shifting your perspective.

We’ve done the hard work for you. The Ctrl M Health app lays out a comprehensive program that includes four different strategies for growth, all based in psychological research, so you can change your mindset to improve your migraine.

#1: Get clarity

Your path to growing in your life with migraine starts with self-discovery. Ask yourself this: What things in life are most important to me? Your values serve as a guide to the things you strive for — like a compass for your actions and goals. But life with migraine can get so swamped in challenges and frustrations that you can lose sight of your values. That can leave you feeling lost or stuck.

We tend to be more successful in our goals when we link them to what’s most important to us. But first, you need to understand what those important things are.

Try our “Values Evaluation” activity:

    • Using the series of questions as prompts, write down some of your life values.
    • Consider how working on each of the health pillars that support wellness with migraine (sleep, nutrition, hydration, movement, self-awareness, connectedness, self-efficacy, growth) can connect you to those overarching life values.
    • Evaluate how your current actions align with your values in each area. Place an ‘X’ on our chart to mark where you are today in that regard in each health pillar.

 

After completing the Values Evaluation activity, take time to do three things: 

    • Take stock. Consider where your values and actions are out of alignment. Identify if a particular behavior is taking you toward or away from the people and things that are important to you. 
    • Reflect. Think about how you might make changes to that behavior to be more in line with your values.
    • Breathe. Self-awareness practices like a simple breathing exercise can help you cultivate mindfulness that will help you develop your growth mindset.

Get clarity with the “Values Evaluation” activity.

#2: Get motivated

Now that you’ve gained clarity around the things you hold dear and the health behaviors you might like to change, the next step toward growth is building motivation. Making health behavior changes with migraine is difficult because of the setbacks and obstacles that migraine inevitably throws your way. Overcoming those obstacles — rather than seeing them as impossible to surmount — requires stores of motivation to provide the extra gas you need, especially when you’re hurting or recovering from a migraine attack.

Motivations are the drivers behind our actions. Fortunately, you can build and sustain your motivation in several ways. Choose any strategy that feels right for you.

Try our “Build Motivation” activity:

      • Reinforce the connection between your values and your goal. Ask yourself: “How will this goal make a positive impact on my life/my migraine?”
      • Weigh the pros and cons of making a particular health behavior change. What are the short and long-term benefits of making the change? Of not making the change?
      • Reframe your health behavior changes as a choice. These are not actions you “should” do, but “could” do. Replacing that one word can reduce feelings of guilt and failure that can lead to self-defeat.
      • Expect that setbacks will happen. Resolve to be kind to yourself when they do.
      • Get to know your inner saboteur: thoughts that try to dissuade you from taking positive action. Use mindfulness to notice those thoughts, which allows you to examine them more objectively.
      • Ask yourself “what” and “how” questions when you feel stuck, which encourages problem-solving. For example:
          • What is getting in my way? 
          • How am I feeling about this situation? 
          • What is something I can do that’s within my control?

 

Get motivated with the “Build Motivation” activity.

#3 Get greater acceptance

Now that you’ve built motivation, it’s time to reflect on ways to spend that new energy. And which areas will be most productive? Those that are within your control. A growth mindset with migraine means building acceptance that some things are out of your control. But acceptance is not defeat. Letting go of the things you can’t control frees you to focus on what you can control. That’s how you get unstuck.

Build acceptance with self-awareness exercises that help you let go of what is not in your control, to free up your energy for the things that are.

Try our “Letting Be” activity:

    • Practice this for the first time in times of low stress or pain, when you can focus.
    • Listen to our guided audio to learn to let go of thoughts and feelings that do not serve you.
    • The audio will walk you through “unhooking” yourself from the thoughts, emotions, and urges crowding your mind. How does it feel to allow things to exist just as they are?
    • Acknowledging what you can and cannot control — and choosing to react or not react — takes practice. Try to listen at least once a week until it feels more natural.

 

Get acceptance with the “Letting Be” activity. 

#4 Get activated

Now that you’ve practiced accepting the things you can’t control, it’s time to focus on the things you can control — and to commit to action in those areas. This step will weave together all the concepts you’ve been learning thus far. It will put you in the position of making proactive, deliberate choices, secure in the knowledge that each step you take is getting you closer to your health goals for migraine management.

Try our “Commit to Action” activity:

    • Choose one of the values you identified in the Values Evaluation activity.
    • Choose a goal related to this value. Try to make this as specific as possible.
    • Ask yourself: What actions will be important for me to take in order to achieve my goal?
    • Ask yourself: What internal noise (thoughts, emotions, sensations) might get in my way?
    • Evaluate whether you can make room for the discomfort of the internal noise without getting hooked in.
        • If your answer is no, choose a new goal that aligns with your value.
        • If your answer is yes, you are ready to commit to your chosen action.

Side by side iphone screens showing how to navigate to the Commit to Action activity within the Ctrl M Health app, to improve migraine through growth.

 

Get activated with the “Commit to Action” activity.

Choose Your Next Step to Improve Your Migraine

You have the power to prevent migraine attacks, starting with developing a growth mindset. The personalized plan within your Ctrl M Health app is ready to help. You’ve got this!

    1. Get clarity with the “Values Evaluation” activity.
    2. Get motivated with the “Build Motivation” activity.
    3. Get greater acceptance with the “Letting Be” activity.
    4. Get activated with the “Commit to Action” activity.

Good luck! We’ll be with you every step of the way.



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