The 4-Step Guide to More Connection (and Less Depression & Anxiety) for Migraine

Exploring Solutions | 6 Min. Read
Author: Ctrl M Health Migraine Team
Reviewed by: Ctrl M Health Medical Directors

Summary

  • Healthy connectedness — your engagement with friends, work, hobbies, or simply fun activities — has been shown to have a positive impact on migraine.
  • Prioritize the people and activities that support your wellness with the Connectedness Rating System.
  • Connect to relationships by beginning to say “yes” to plans with friends and family.
  • Connect to work and activities by supporting your community.
  • Connect to fun and play by engaging with a hobby.

Full Article

Migraine is a profoundly lonely disease. It forces us to miss out on family functions, work days, play time with kids, and get-togethers with friends. Migraine’s constraints on our time and energy can cause us to disengage from work, activities, community, and anything done “just for fun.” Up to 90% of people with migraine report feeling isolated. But connectedness is vital for living with migraine.

Connectedness means having relationships, work, activities, and forms of play that bring you a sense of meaning and fulfillment. Its benefits include reduced anxiety and depression. Even a simple hug is enough to release protective hormones that block a protein implicated in migraine attacks. However, since migraine can so easily get in the way of connectedness, it can be hard to know where to begin making helpful changes.

We’ve done the hard work for you. The Ctrl M Health app lays out a comprehensive program that includes four different strategies to weave connectedness into your everyday life, so you can make meaningful changes for your migraine.

#1 Connect to your priorities

Improved connectedness with migraine starts with self-discovery. That’s because in order to prioritize the people and things that bring you meaning and joy, it’s important to figure out what those things are. This is also an opportunity to understand which people and activities may be toxic or unsupportive, which can feed into your anxiety or depression and negatively affect your migraine.

Start with the “Connectedness Rating System” activity:

    • For at least two weeks, track your active and passive forms of connectedness.
        • Active forms of connectedness have the greatest health benefits. They typically involve face-to-face interactions or higher levels of engagement.
        • Passive forms of connectedness involve lower levels of commitment — like texting a friend — and are good options for when you don’t feel well.
    • Try to incorporate at least one form each day. That could include connecting to:
        • Relationships
        • Work or activities
        • Play: Hobbies and anything done “just for fun”
    • Each day, note the types of connectedness you engage with, how the activity or person made you feel, and your migraine attacks.

Connectedness Rating System Activity to reduce depression and migraine.

After completing the Connectedness Rating System activity, take time to do three things:

    • Take stock. Review your connectedness journal. See if any patterns emerge between your forms of engagement, migraine, and how supportive the person or activity is to you.
    • Reflect. Which forms of connectedness did you enjoy most? Which yielded positive changes in you?
    • Prioritize. Resolve to prioritize the relationships that support your wellness or bring you the most fulfillment.

Connect to your priorities with the Connectedness Rating System activity.

#2 Connect to relationships

Once you’ve gotten a sense of which relationships are important for your well-being, it’s time to start developing or improving them. One major way migraine interferes with relationships is by repeatedly ruining plans with the people we care about. After a while, it can start to feel scary or even pointless for us to say “yes” to plans at all. However, automatically saying “no” can create a negative habit that leads to isolation — and even your best-intentioned loved ones may begin to feel rejected.

Start with the “Say Yes to Plans with Friends and Family” activity:

    • The next time you are invited somewhere, challenge yourself to accept the invitation.
    • Practice vulnerability by explaining why you may need to change your mind later.
    • Consider what adaptations might help you attend. If your invitation is to a baseball game, for example, you might bring sunglasses and earplugs, and make sure you are hydrated.

Say Yes to Plans activity to reduce depression and migraine.

Connect to relationships with the Say Yes to Plans with Family and Friends activity.

#3 Connect to work and activities

The unpredictability of migraine can make it difficult to connect to meaningful work and activities, to the point where we may lose our sense of purpose. But having purpose boosts our health, resulting in reduced stress and better coping — crucial to reduce anxiety and depression, and to improve migraine. So it’s important to find small ways to consistently stay connected to the activities and communities that engage your interests and talents.

Start with our “Support Your Community” activity:

    • Choose an organization, cause, or topic you find meaningful. This could be within the context of your workplace or an extracurricular activity. 
    • Pick one small thing you can do in the next two weeks and add it to your schedule.
    • Whatever action you take, make it manageable. The important thing is that you do something.

Support Your Community activity to reduce depression and migraine.

Connect to meaningful work and activities with the “Support Your Community” activity.

#4 Connect to fun and play

Play isn’t just for kids! It helps us learn, process our thoughts and emotions, and even improve our health. Unfortunately, managing migraine means we often feel we lack the time, energy or ability for “frivolous” fun. But not only does play help you, a lack of play and leisure can hurt you, with consequences like increased pain and depression. Find small, consistent ways to connect to forms of play — anything done for fun, leisure, or pleasure — and reap the benefits for your migraine.

Start with our “Engage in a Hobby” activity:

    • Choose something you would like to do this week for enjoyment.
        • Think about activities you’ve been drawn to in the past and whose time commitment fits your schedule.
    • Commit to carving out time for your hobby one time this week, even if for 15 minutes.
    • Try to carve out a little time each week to maintain your connection.

Engage in a Hobby activity to reduce depression and migraine.

Connect to fun and play with our Engage in a Hobby activity.

Choose Your Next Step to Improve Your Migraine, Protect Against Depression & Increase Joy

You have the power to prevent migraine attacks by strengthening your connectedness. The personalized plan within your Ctrl M Health app is ready to help. You’ve got this!

    1. Connect to your priorities with the Connectedness Rating System activity.
    2. Connect to relationships with the Say Yes to Plans with Family and Friends activity.
    3. Connect to meaningful work and activities with the “Support Your Community” activity.
    4. Connect to fun and play with our Engage in a Hobby activity.

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

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