How to Prevent or Get Through a Migraine


I’ve been a migraine sufferer since college. I suppose the stress of adulthood got to me. Migraines are certainly a health concern, and the reported statistics show women suffer from them more than men. Neurological symptoms appear with migraines, and anyone that suffers from them knows they cannot ever be compared to any typical headache.

After experiencing one this morning, and having my dog, toddler, and husband rush to my side, I decided to write this blog to share my tips for getting through one. These may or may not work for everyone as each body reacts differently, but I feel that migraines are so common that we should talk more about them, understand personal root causes, and be more supportive of those who get them.


Woman drinking a bottle of water

Staying hydrated and shielding your eyes from the sun is always a necessity for preventing migraines (Matthew 6:21 Cross Hat from Amor Clothing).


My fraternal grandfather was a migraine sufferer. It’s possible they’re genetic. He also died after taking a fall in the middle of the night, not knowing the damage it had on his brain as he slept. Perhaps unrelated, but to me, it was a coincidence that a university professor who used his mind constantly would leave this world after a hit to his most needed organ.

As a teacher, my students knew where I kept my stash of ginger ale. They’d bring me one and call the school nurse as soon as they noticed symptoms. I felt so bad that they had to witness my eyes closed, hands holding my head, and asking them to read with the lights off while I took a little break. But, what angels they were to recognize distress. And, oh how many lunch and recess hours I spent sitting in the dark of the nurse’s office as she massaged my neck, shoulders, and temples.

Migraines are no doubt linked to sleep disorders. I’ve often wondered why my creative juices begin to flow at 8 pm and why I can work until three or four in the morning. I’ve had to tell myself that as a human being, I wasn’t made to be nocturnal, yet I finally stopped fighting it and made life adjustments to give my brain, well, a break. Sure, my internal clock might naturally awake at 9 am, when most are arriving at a job (if they haven’t already been there for three or four hours), but instead of fighting my own body and telling it to listen to what society tells me I should do, I went to university to be educated in a profession that would allow me to serve at my best – writing.

Any writer knows that you are a product of your environment. We find the perfect place to sit, think, write, and get absorbed into the world we story about. Lucky for me, I now write about my life – easier to do when you’re living in your own story!

But the stresses of life can trigger my migraines. Having been a teacher, up at 5 am and lesson planning until 3 am, while making sure my students retained the information I presented, the hours took a toll on the brain. Prior to that, I kept active as a pet sitter, walking dogs for nearly 12 hours a day. Great for the body, but not the best for the rest your body needs after being on your feet so much. I also was a high school tennis coach. This was a good mix of physical and mental activity, but, boy, was sleep necessary after working a full day in my marketing job and then being on the courts for four hours (plus the three hours of drive time in the Northern Virginia area).

Now, it’s the anxiety of motherhood that can be a trigger: Am I feeding the right foods to my family? I should be cooking a homecooked meal from the foods I grow every day like I see these Instagrammers who live on a ranch and farm do.

Is my family getting enough physical movement time? I typically don’t have the energy to sit or play at a playground every day, but how can I make sure my toddler is getting all that time in? My husband now has a desk job, and he’s putting on weight because of it, and he’s not getting the necessary workout time that the Marine Corps once provided (and required) of him. As a homeschool mom, am I teaching the necessary skills and lessons at home, and am I doing it correctly? Will my son be able to function in this world – with so many do’s and don’ts? Would the school provide better services – and give my mind a mental rest from these questions?

Is my dog getting enough walking time? Since I can’t easily break free to take him on long walks anymore, is his health declining because of me? And of course, everyone likes to remind me to take care of myself, but aren’t mothers the ones who think of themselves and their needs last? Same story over here.


Water, lotion, and Excedrin to relieve migraines Ginger to relieve migraines

Some essentials to always have with you if there’s a chance you will have a migraine attack.


Yesterday, I was coaching my toddler through the emotions of trying something new. “I cannot do it!” he yells as frustration sets in any time something new is presented in his life (and as a very aware three-year-old, isn’t almost everything new to him?). As a parent, seeing him working through the problem, getting so close but not knowing it, then giving up is frustrating to me. My coaching background kicks in. “You can do anything you put your mind to. Keep practicing. With practice comes change. You’ll get better!” Then the mothering techniques arrive. “It’s ok, buddy. Take a break. Rest your mind. If it’s frustrating, take a deep breath. Let’s go do something else to get your mind away from it.”

Yesterday afternoon, it was the stress of taking my toddler to the playground even though I was tired from having gone to sleep at 1 am the night before. I just wanted to nap! Luckily, my husband came to relieve me so our youngster could have more playtime with him while I went off to do the grocery shopping. I like to stick to one dedicated day a week for shopping, but either we didn’t eat as much as we normally do, or I overbought the previous week so we had plenty to carry us through the last two days. Now, we needed just a few necessities (darn that toilet paper!) So that already took me off my normal schedule which is equivalent to stress.

Later on, our little guy didn’t want to get out of the bathroom, having so much fun playing with bubbles, a tugboat, and designing a bridge out of toys. Let the evening time fussing begin! It’s always a headache and a test of patience and will when calmness leaves us. But, I just had to throw in the towel, so to speak, once the books had been read, prayers said and hugs were given. He’s going through a “stay with me” stage, but this momma needed to sleep. I skipped my own shower, took the dog out, and literally “fell” in bed to sleep from the mental overload and physical exhaustion.

We call our dog “Nana”, the nurse-dog character from Peter Pan because his dog senses always can pick up on someone not feeling well. I woke up the following day to my right eye feeling as hard as a golf ball, unable to open it. The entire right side of my head throbbed. Every muscle on the right side of my body was stiff and ached. I tried contorting my body in any stretch pose I could, and grabbed my lavender neck pillow from the side of my bed and dropped it on my face. The weight of it brought some relief. My gut felt empty, and as it made hunger sounds, every screeching pull brought about a twisting pain. My throat felt like it was about to regurgitate the last meal I ate (I probably should have eaten dinner the night before). I lost three pounds overnight.

Our dog whined, licked my head, and sat next to me, skipping his morning time outside. He barked to anyone who would hear him downstairs. Our toddler heard and went to tell my husband that the dog was ready to go out. Upon their return, the dog barked at my husband who followed him to me. My husband jumped into action recognizing the signs of a migraine attack. When my body started recovering, our imaginative toddler came to see me with his toy medical bag in hand. The diagnosis? I was on the mend and would be alright.

When I was pregnant, I had nine, migraine-free months. I often wish to get pregnant again just so I can have another break from these. Older teachers who were fellow migraine sufferers have told me to hang in there. When menopause arrived for them, that was the end of their migraine days. I can’t imagine having to endure these for that long though. To make each attack shorter, I put together what I call a “Bilious Basket™” loaded with all the necessities that anyone who is with me can reach for when coming to my aid. Amid an attack, my mind cannot function as I’m too much in pain. My husband recalls his scariest experience with this, just after we were married when he woke up to me banging my head against the headboard. Believe it or not, that hurt less than the attack itself.

Chronic migraine sufferers are those who experience a migraine 15 days out of the month. For me, most migraines last about three days and I might get them up to four times a month. The worst can be felt for a full day, with the soreness and recovery lingering for the next two. I don’t believe I’m a candidate for prescription migraine medicines, as my causes vary at any given time. I’m also into holistic remedies before jumping to medicine. My primary and neurological doctors have both approved medicine for me for those unmanageable attacks.


informative chart about how to prevent oto get through a migraine

Useful information about migraines to share with others so they can better understand what you are going through.



-Stay hydrated. Drink more water than you normally would, especially if your trigger was dehydration.

-Get a massage. My husband is great about relieving my stress areas and massaging my scalp. I’ll immediately feel the tingling sensation run through my body as my muscles are loosened. If you can, schedule a professional massage shortly after so they can get the muscles back in order.

-Brush your head. I use a special brush because it not only brushes the tangles from my hair (when you’re tossing your head around looking for head pain relief, your hair will be a tangled mess. Think, Cousin It from the Addams Family), but it also provides a nice scalp massage as it brushes. Sure, there are plenty of scalp massagers out there too. I just haven’t gotten one yet.

-Brush your teeth and hydrate your lips. Breathing your way through a migraine, especially when dehydrated, will make your mouth and lips feel yucky and dry. A mint-flavored toothpaste freshens the mouth right up! 

-Let your hair be loose. Take out hair ties, headbands, and anything pulling your hair back. It may have already happened during the migraine, but be sure the hair is not tightly held. I actually feel better having it out of my face during recovery, and use a light hair tie to gently hold it (I only use it to keep the hair back, and don’t twist it around the hair)

-Be prepared for some dizziness, lightheadedness, and/or shaking. As the blood begins to flow better, I sometimes feel dizzy so I don’t immediately get up, take stairs or walk around once the pain subsides. Give the body time to rest and recover before jumping back into life. The shaking is caused by some abnormal functioning of the area of the brain that is responsible for controlling movement. The brain has just experienced trauma. Give it rest.

Protect your eyes from the sun with a comfy, sun cap and/or sunglasses.

To my fellow migraine sufferers, hang in there. Put together your own Bilious Basket™ and include the items I have in mine, listed below, or comment on our Instagram page with what helps you get through yours. Are you pregnant? You may benefit from a Bilious Basket™ for those days when nausea is strong since that’s one of the symptoms of a migraine. Just brought life into the world? Have a Bilious Basket™ is on hand to help you get through labor and recovery.

Stay strong, my friends!



When you can’t stomach anything, but your body needs something.




Apple Juice.

Coffee (sometimes this helps, other times it makes me feel sicker).

-Ginger! Ginger Ale, Ginger Tea, Ginger Snaps, Gingerbread People Cookies (set aside some during the winter season. It’ll put a smile on your face to bite their heads off when your own head is ailing).

Saltine crackers.

Chex (Honey Nut seems to do the trick for me).


Greek Chobani Yogurt, vanilla or unflavored.

-Frosty lemonade from Chick-Fil-A (or make-at-home with vanilla ice cream, lemonade, and ginger ale).

-The B.R.A.T. meal: Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast.



Ginger Lotion. When your hands are pressed up against your face, the scent of ginger can be therapeutic when you’re nauseous.

-Essential Oils (peppermint, lavender, ginger). Diffuse the oils into the air to help you breathe better and bring calm to a stressful migraine attack.

Burt’s Bees Lip Balm – soothes dry lips.

Excedrin Migraine (be sure to take the correct dosage listed on the bottle. I don’t take more than 4 in a 24-hour period).

-Music therapy. I never considered this until my toddler suggested it after this last attack. I couldn’t believe how relaxing it was to give my mind soothing audio to listen to.

-Hug your pet. There’s something so comforting about hugging a fluffy dog or cat. I even will long for my baby blanket (think that whatever your toddler cuddles up with now might be what they need if they, God forbid, have migraines as adults).

-Warm wet washcloth. Have you ever experienced a warm cloth on your face and hands after a 5-star dinner or while on a long airplane ride? The same effect takes place during a migraine. The steam and wetness provide hydration to breathe in, while the warm sensation provides relief from pain, especially when pressed against the eyes.

-Take a warm, soothing bubble bath. Temperature therapy is a very real thing.

Face mask. The cool feeling combined with lavender helps bring about calm.

-Heated, lavender, neck pillow. Relieves neck and shoulder stress.

-Check your gut health. Constipation can cause migraines. Sometimes, just clearing your large intestine relieves the pain. Check with your gastroenterologist.


Bilious Basket The Geer Family

Sneak peek of my Bilious Basket!


I wanted to share with you my experience along with some recommendations and tips to help you out! Did you enjoy reading this blog? Share it with somebody who may need to read about this topic…you got this!!! 

Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram and… if you share this information and/or put together necessities in a Bilious Basket™, don’t forget to tag us using #biliousbasket. 

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