Contributed by Eileen Zollinger
Why is it so difficult to identify our migraine triggers? If I can have an iced cola one day, or a slice of pizza on another, but suddenly having the two together on a very stressful day sends my migraine beast into overdrive…why does that happen? It’s a little thing we like to call trigger stacking…or the Bucket Theory.
It goes something like this…the bucket is never really empty and starts everyday with things we can’t avoid like hormones, stress and weather. Those fill up the bucket (with water in this example) about one-third or potentially two-thirds full, depending on how much is going on that day. Gradually, we start adding in other things like allergies, smells, foods and drinks. Each thing we add takes up space or volume in the bucket. Every one of those things may have a different volume attached to it. For this example, we will use my bucket. Raw onions have the volume of say a softball, whereas a bit of lime juice may have the volume of a pebble. The amount of water it displaces is how it will affect my head and the overall load it has on tripping the migraine trigger mechanism for the day. If we eat or encounter too many softballs in any given day, we are going to trigger a migraine and the beast will be out of the cage!
Generally, once we eliminate all of the ‘commonly known’ food triggers, we get to a baseline place where the weather and hormones don’t bother us as much. However, stress can still be a big trigger, but it usually manifests itself as stress let down. We usually manage the stressful event in any way that we can just to get through it in one piece. It’s after the stress has passed that we notice the migraine lurking or starting to come on.
We can try to manage stress in different ways. Some people can use exercise, while some use breathing techniques or meditation. There are many guided meditations or general meditations available on YouTube that deal with chronic pain, relaxation and sleep. There are also several apps that you can get for free through the app stores for your mobile devices. Most of the meditations on these apps are around ten minutes and when done daily, can provide the skills necessary to manage those stressful situations when they arise.
What’s in your personal bucket? If you need help identifying the answer to that question, getting your migraines into remission and are curious about how coaching may help you get your life back, please contact us.