How Migraines Make Me Productive

By Jason (Guest Writer) –

I stay active during chronic and hemiplegic migraines to repress pain and symptoms. It is activeness during migraine that palliate migraine pain and symptoms.

Every time Big Bird’s orange flap opened and closed my head throbbed harder and harder. I wanted to pluck each yellow feather from his oversize bird body so he could understand the pain I was feeling. My brain crashing into my skull as I shifted positions to watch him and his friends try and make me laugh. Who could laugh with their brain oozing out of their ear? This is my first memory of migraine; I was 4 years old.

Growing up in my house there was no such thing as not feeling well. “Oh, your fine” was the response to my head pounding and pulsing out of my head. Laying down when you didn’t feel well was not an option. As a result, I ignored whatever I was experiencing and kept on moving.

At some point in my late teens I began to recognize that activity was a cure when it felt like I had an axe in the side of my head. That activeness felt better than staying still.

This led me to create a healthy pattern of responding to pain with activeness. Activeness could be anything from menial tasks to physical activity to intellectual tasks.

As I have matured so too have my migraines. From chronic to hemiplegic, to silent to ocular, to aura to exercise-induced and more.

My response to my migraines has been to evolve my patterns of activeness as an adult, including: reading, writing, working, socializing, research, exploring, talking, fixing, creating, making, doing tasks small or large, being in and of the world. This list in total adds up to a productive life.

My migraine distraction is the evolution from a child’s pain ignored, to awareness, to a systematic response to one’s pain and how to thrive because of it.

Migraine Calculus

Today my deliberate response to migraine is activeness. The net result of my activeness during migraine is productivity. It’s a powerful calculus that drives me from morning till night. To keep my migraine pain and symptoms buried in the back of my mind and out of focus. Allowing me to live, contribute and thrive no matter how difficult.

Scientific Evidence of Distraction From Pain

I have always been curious if I was the only one distracting myself from pain. So about 10 years ago, during the recovery of my first hemiplegic migraine I started to do some research. There is scientific evidence that supports my migraine distractions, in a multitude of studies.

Research shows that using mental distractions from pain are valid and effective. A 2013 study by the American Pain Society demonstrates that distraction can be a way to lower pain intensity.

Migraine Productivity is Measurable

My productivity is measurable in units of time per migraine day that I am active. Or, migraine days I am active that I would otherwise be laying down in a dark room. Anyway you apply the calculus of activeness during a migraine for a productive day is up to you.

A simple formula I like to use is: 30 minutes of migraine distraction per day is 2% of productivity per day. That may not seem like much at first. Yet, if you are a chronic migraineur and you distract yourself from your migraines for 30 minutes in a productive way against 15 migraines a month that is 7.5 hours per month of productive activity you may not normally be engaging in.

That is a full business day back in your life.

7.5 hours per month for 12 months is 90 hours a year or 3.75 days. 3.75 days you can get back into your life per year. 2% is not so little anymore.

With activeness practice you can go further than 30 minutes. In fact, once you start to see how powerful distraction from migraine can be, your awareness for activeness time will increase.

On migraine days you will begin to stay more active, going beyond your baseline of current migraine productivity and in turn, generating more productive migraine days. You will find you are productive in all areas of your life you never thought possible.

Migraine Diversion Applied

How can you apply diversion of migraine to your life now?

Participating in life’s events makes more sense than skipping them with distraction. To attend an event at 50% of your best self and distracted from your migraine is a win win. While you attend and take part in an event it is also the best way to block any migraine pain or symptoms you are experiencing.

Going to or staying at work and engaging with your work and career is the better alternative than not going or leaving early. For it is your work that distracts you from the migraine and symptoms you experience. Even if you are 20%, 50%, or 70% of your best self.

If you are a chronic migraineur, you know, being your 100% best self is too far and few between to count on anyway. You can’t wait around for 100% anymore.

I hope you find a way to make your migraines work for you. To harness their energy and live a more productive and fulfilling life.

Here’s to you and finding your activeness against migraine.

Never Stop Moving…

(Find More of Jason’s work at

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