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Benefits of Mindfulness for Migraine

5 ways mindfulness can improve migraines- by Guest Author- Rida Farhan, MBBS

Mindfulness is a technique to focus on one’s body and surroundings in a non-judgmental manner, without resorting to an automatic “pilot mode” to daily life stressors. It has been around as a potential treatment for migraines and a recent study conducted in Boston and Winston-Salem has identified mechanisms by which Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MSBR) can help improve migraines. Here are the key takeaways:

1. Altered pain experience

When a person has migraines for years, they automatically assume every attack is going to be severely painful. Mindfulness can help you to pause, take a step back and be aware of the intensity and quality of the pain and be able to differentiate it from unpleasantness.

2. Increased stress-body awareness

Mindfulness can increase sensitivity to body changes which leads to earlier awareness of a migraine attack. This allows for earlier management of the attack, whether it is to take your medications or identify and eliminate any triggers that may be causing it.

Sometimes an attack can start during a stressful period and early identification can help you relax, breathe and focus on something else. This can help prevent or reduce the intensity of an attack.

3. Increased acceptance and self-compassion

People who experience migraines often have guilt, self-blame and stigma attached to it. Acknowledging and accepting the pain and its triggers instead of fighting them can help create hope, empowerment and increased self-compassion during migraine attacks.

4. Emotional regulation

Improved emotional regulation can help one gain control over their life by being less fearful of a migraine attack, being aware of anticipatory anxiety and decreased reactivity to pain. This allows you to focus on other aspects of life and not be consumed by a future migraine attack.

5. Meaningful behaviour changes

Mindfulness can lead to improved dietary habits, sleep hygiene and activity level which in turn can create a more healthy lifestyle and decrease migraine triggers.

With YouTube videos and mobile applications like Headspace and Calm, you can get started on your mindfulness journey in one click of your smartphone!


Estave PM, Margol C, Beeghly S, Anderson R, Shakir M, Coffield A, Byrnes J, O'Connell N, Seng E, Gardiner P, Wells RE. Mechanisms of mindfulness in patients with migraine: Results of a qualitative study. Headache. 2023 Mar;63(3):390-409. doi: 10.1111/head.14481.

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