Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional and this blog should not be taken as medical advice. Please consult with your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment of migraines.

If you’re a health and wellness coach, healer, or practitioner, chances are you’ve encountered clients who are in pain and want migraine relief. This debilitating condition affects millions of people worldwide and can significantly impact their daily lives.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the usual triggers for migraines and share tips on how to relieve them. We’ll also discuss ways to help your clients avoid getting migraines in the first place. And since you’re reading this on the Pause BREATHWORK blog, we’ll also dive into how breathwork can provide migraine relief.😉

Sound good? Let’s do it!

The Usual Migraine Triggers:

Before we jam on tips and techniques for migraine relief and prevention, it’s essential to understand the common triggers that can lead to an attack. These triggers vary from person to person, but some of the most common ones include:

  • Stress and anxiety: Stress and anxiety are major culprits when it comes to triggering migraines. This can be due to work, relationships, or even just daily life.
  • Food sensitivities: Some foods like caffeine, alcohol, aged cheese, fermented foods, preservatives, and processed meats can trigger migraines in sensitive individuals.
  • When you eat: Skipping meals or having irregular eating patterns can also trigger migraines.
  • Certain types of drinks or dehydration: Dehydration or consuming drinks like red wine and caffeinated beverages can also trigger migraines. For some people, caffeine withdrawal can also be a trigger.
  • Hormonal changes: Fluctuations in estrogen levels during menstruation or pregnancy can trigger migraines in women.
  • Changes in weather or altitude: Extreme weather conditions or rapid changes in altitude (or even normal seasonal changes) can lead to migraines.
  • Lack of sleep: Not getting enough sleep, getting too much sleep, or having irregular sleeping patterns can trigger a migraine attack.
  • Environmental factors: Bright lights, strong smells, and loud noises can also trigger migraines in sensitive individuals.
  • Strong odors: Secondhand smoke, perfumes, and other strong odors can trigger migraines in some people.
  • Tobacco, cigarettes, or e-cigarettes: Nicotine constricts blood vessels in the brain, which can trigger a migraine attack.
  • Medication overuse: Overusing pain medication for migraines, can actually lead to more frequent migraines and worsen the intensity of the headaches.
  • Neck pain: Tension in the muscles of the neck can trigger migraines, which is why many people who experience migraines also have neck pain or stiffness.

According to the The Migraine Relief Center, here are the top triggers by percentage:

  1. Stress – reported by 28% of respondents
  2. Lack of sleep – reported by 20% of respondents
  3. Anxiety – reported by 19% of respondents
  4. Neck pain – reported by 17% of respondents
  5. Dehydration – reported by 13% of respondents
  6. Weather – reported by 13% of respondents

How to Experience Migraine Relief:

There are plenty of ways to find migraine relief depending on the trigger, but finding what works best for each individual may take some trial and error. Here are some techniques that may help:

  • Stress relief methods: This can include breathwork, meditation, yoga, visualization, or any other forms of relaxation that help calm the mind and body.
  • Heating pads or ice packs: Applying heat to the neck and shoulders can help relieve tension and reduce migraine pain. Ice packs can also be applied to the forehead or temples to provide relief.
  • Aromatherapy: Essential oils such as lavender, peppermint, and eucalyptus have been found to ease migraine symptoms when inhaled or applied topically.
  • Music therapy: Listening to calming music or sounds can help reduce stress and promote relaxation, which can then alleviate migraine symptoms.
  • Massage: Gentle massage or self-massage can help reduce muscle tension and promote relaxation, which can provide migraine relief.
  • Medication: Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help ease migraine symptoms. A Doctor may also prescribe medication specifically for migraines.
  • Turn off the lights: Bright lights or screens can trigger migraines in some people. If you feel a migraine coming on, try dimming the lights and taking a break from screens.
  • Small amounts of caffeine: While too much caffeine may trigger migraines, sipping a small amount may help to relieve migraines in the early stages.

How to Avoid Getting Migraines:

What’s better than migraine relief? Migraine prevention in the first place. While it may not be possible to completely avoid migraines, there are steps someone can take to reduce their chances of getting them. Here are some at-home tips that you can share with your clients:

  • Reduce stress: Stress and anxiety are major triggers for migraines. Help your clients find healthy ways to manage stress, such as exercise, meditation, or breathwork.
  • Identify and avoid triggers: Help your clients keep a migraine diary to track their symptoms and identify potential triggers.
  • Stay hydrated: Dehydration is a common trigger for migraines. Encourage your clients to drink plenty of water throughout the day.
  • Get enough sleep: Lack of sleep can increase the likelihood of migraines. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night.
  • Practice self-care: Encourage your clients to prioritize their physical and mental well-being. This includes eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, reducing or quitting smoking/drinking alcohol, and taking breaks when needed.

Other treatments that medical professionals and holistic practitioners can offer that may prevent migraines are:

  • Acupuncture: This ancient practice involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body, and it has been found to be effective in reducing migraine frequency and intensity.
  • Chiropractic care: Spinal manipulation may help to alleviate tension and reduce the frequency of migraines for some individuals.
  • CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy): This type of therapy helps individuals identify and change negative thought patterns, leading to better coping strategies for managing migraines.
  • Supplements: Some supplements have been shown to help with migraine relief. However, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting a new supplement protocol.
  • Botox injections: For chronic migraines, Botox injections can help reduce the frequency and intensity of headaches by blocking nerve signals that trigger pain.
  • Medication: Depending on the severity and type of migraines, doctors may prescribe medication to help alleviate symptoms or prevent future attacks. These can include pain relievers, triptans, anti-nausea medications, and preventive medicines.
  • Biofeedback: This technique involves using sensors to monitor body functions, such as muscle tension or skin temperature, and learning how to control them through relaxation techniques.

Breathwork for Migraine Relief:

So how exactly can breathwork help with migraine relief? First off, breathwork increases oxygen in the body and decreases carbon dioxide, which can help alleviate pain and inflammation associated with migraines. It also helps to relax the muscles and release tension in the body, promoting overall relaxation and reducing stress.

Some of the core physical benefits of breathwork include:

  • Increased oxygen in the body
  • Improved blood circulation
  • Decreased muscle tension and pain
  • Relaxation of the nervous system
  • Better sleep

In addition to the physical benefits, breathwork can also have a positive impact on mental and emotional well-being. It can help individuals better cope with stress, anxiety, and negative thought patterns that may trigger migraines. 

Breathwork exercises can also promote a sense of calm and inner peace, which can be especially beneficial for those who experience migraines as a result of emotional distress.

A Simple Pause Breathwork Technique for Migraine Relief: The Blow Breath

The Blow Breath works wonders for physical pain relief, including migraines. This technique is easy to use. It goes like this:

  1. Take a deep breath through the mouth
  2. Forcefully exhale through the mouth (optional: make an organic sound as you exhale)
  3. Repeat for a couple of minutes (2-10 mins)

Be sure to activate your abdominals (deep belly) as you’re doing this exercise. Try to really push your belly out and snap it in. This helps to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for promoting relaxation and reducing pain.

It’s also essential that you avoid hot baths while doing the Blow Breath as this can be dangerous. That’s because this breathwork exercise is derived from a Tibetan Buddhist practice known as tummo or “inner fire.” It can produce adrenaline in the body, which increases your internal body temperature. So if you want to take a bath to find migraine relief, make sure you do this breathwork before or after, but not at the same time.

Also, don’t be afraid to take it slow at first and work your way up to longer breathwork sessions. Breathing through the mouth like this can increase energy, so it’s okay to ease into it if it feels like too much at first. Over time, you’ll find that your mind and body will relax easily during the Blow Breath.

To see a quick demo of the Blow Breath Exercise for pain, check out this video:

Want to learn more about becoming a masterful breathwork facilitator?

If you want to learn more breathwork techniques to help your clients, be sure to download the FREE Guided Breathwork Cheatsheet. In it, you’ll get three more techniques that you can add to your sessions right away, plus training videos on how to do each one properly.

Download the Guided Breathwork Cheatsheet>>


To wrap it all up…

Migraine relief is possible, and it doesn’t always have to come in the form of medication. By understanding common triggers and incorporating breathwork into your routine, you can find natural relief for yourself or your clients. 

Remember to also prioritize self-care, listen to your body, and avoid known triggers as much as possible. With these tips and techniques, you can help yourself and others overcome the pain and discomfort of migraines. 

Let’s all work towards a healthier, happier, migraine-free life together. So go ahead and give breathwork a try – your body will thank you! And as always, feel free to share this blog with anyone who could benefit from these tips and tools.

With love & migraine relief,

Samantha Skelly + The Pause Breathwork Team


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