I was scrolling through some posts on a migraine support group on Facebook that I am a part of and one member’s post caught my eye. She was talking about how she woke up with such a horrible migraine that she had to call in sick to work. Feeling frustrated and upset, she then called her fiancé crying and lamented how horrible her life is. As migraineurs, we’ve all been there and I felt her pain in that moment.
But then she went on to say that her fiancé told her to think about the good in her life, like the fact that they were going to get married next year. It was such a simple statement but it made me think about how, even on our worst migraine days, we should all take the time to think about what we’re grateful for.
Last year I started to use the Five Minute Journal, which provides a great format for practicing gratitude on a daily basis. Admittedly, I haven’t been great about consistently writing in it (a baby will really wreak havoc on your morning rituals), but I’m determined to get it back into my routine even if I have to sneak it in in between my daughter’s naps. I think it’s a particularly powerful tool for those with migraines.
Here are five reasons all migraine sufferers should practice gratitude by using the Five Minute Journal:
1. It gives you something positive to think about
In the throws of the most horrible episodes that could last for days (or weeks or years), it can certainly be hard to think about anything remotely positive. But the truth is, we all have something to be thankful for. I’m not suggesting you minimize your pain and hardship during a migraine. But focusing on the good things in your life, even if it’s as simple as the comfy pillow you’re lying on or the dark curtains blocking out light might help ease the pain.
2. It forces you to focus on the most important to do’s
Everyday the journal prompts the question: “What would make today great?” and then asks you to list three things. It forces you to put a mini plan of action together at the start of your day, which inspires you to go after them. Since you take each page in the journal day by day, you might fill out something like “I will cook myself a healthy meal” on a really bad (migraine) day, while you declare something like “I will talk to my boss about my promotion” on a day when you’re feeling your best.
3. It forces you to reflect on the day
At the end of the day the journal asks you to list three amazing things that happened that day. Sometimes they will be a reflection of the three most important things, and sometimes they won’t. All that’s important is that you reflect on three great things that happened (even if overall it was a crappy day). After a while, you’ll start to notice that you get into a habit of appreciating the smallest wins (i.e. “I got a seat in the subway on the way home from work” or “I read 15 pages of a great book in bed).
4. It’s one small thing completely in your control
If you have chronic migraines, you may not feel like you have control over your days. Pain can force you to call in sick to work, cancel plans with friends, and miss your kid’s soccer games. But taking time to write a few thoughts is one thing that, even on the worst days, that most can manage to do.
5. It literally takes five minutes
That’s it. Five minutes per day. To make you happier and reflect on what you’re grateful for. Sounds like a worthwhile exercise to me!
Got any more tips on how you keep track of what you’re grateful for? I would love to hear it!