If you suffer from migraines, chances are you’ve had them interfere with your work.
It’s a debilitating problem — one that’s hard to diagnose, hard to treat, and even harder to get time off for when they sneak up on you. For many though, getting a migraine at work can put a grinding stop to your day, and it goes well beyond blinding pain.
Symptoms of migraines are bizarre and varied, and in addition to incredible pain, can include any of the following:
- Blind spots
- Loss of peripheral vision
- Visual phenomena, such as strobes or oscillating spectrums
- Numbness or tingling in the extremities
- Muscle weakness or fatigue
- Inability to speak
- Difficulty focusing
It’s a frightening phenomenon, and one that for some can resemble a stroke more than a headache.
If you’re experiencing them at work, it’s possible something in your office or day to day routine is triggering them. Don’t let migraines control your workweek — get on top of them by identifying the cause in this list of common workplace migraine triggers.
#1 — Tension and Stress
Are you stressed at work? Deadlines, expectations, tight schedules, performance reviews — all of it can create mental stress that translates into physical tension, and this can absolutely cause a migraine.
This type of tension often manifests itself as stiffness or pain in the neck, and can quickly develop into a migraine if you don’t give yourself a chance to wind down.
Meditate, use essential oils, take a walk — whatever you need to do, but determine what those stressors are, and STOP letting them give you migraines (that’s right, even if it’s your boss).
#2 — Too Much Screen Time
Think about how much time you spend looking at a screen in a day. You check your phone when you get up, you’re on a computer all day at work, on your phone again at lunch, watching TV when you get home — it’s a lot of strain on your brain, and it could be causing your migraines.
Try to limit your screen time as much as you can, and if your work requires you to be in front of a computer all day, use blue light blocking computer glasses. Computer glasses put a barrier between the glare of a screen that can cause insomnia and migraines, so keep a pair handy at all times.
Shop our collection of magnified and unmagnified computer glasses here.
#3 — Not Drinking Enough Water
Dehydration is a frequent cause of migraines, and thankfully, one that’s easy enough to prevent.
Save yourself from the elaborate excuses, and every night before you go to bed, fill up a reusable container or two that’ll hold at least 64 ounces of water. Take it to work with you every day, and STAY HYDRATED.
#4 — Snacks Full of Migraine Triggers
Food is another common place to find a migraine trigger. These can vary from person to person, but can include anything like:
- Artificial sweeteners
- Cured meats (preservatives are the culprits here)
- Red wine
- Food dyes
- Packaged or processed foods
If you consume a lot of these at work (kudos to you if red wine is on that list), start eliminating the ones you go through the most of, one by one and slowly. You may notice migraine frequency decreases when you cut that snack out!
#5 — Not Eating Enough
Alternatively, low blood sugar is another recipe for a migraine, so make sure you’re frequently snacking. High-protein foods will help to keep your blood sugar stable, so keep some dried nuts or protein bars on hand at your desk for days when you have to take a late lunch.
#6 — Not Getting Enough Sleep
Going back to too much screen time and stress, both of these things can prevent you from getting enough sleep at night. Add that to an early alarm, and you have the perfect storm for a migraine the next day.
Eliminate your stress, wear your computer glasses, and make sleep a priority.
#7 — Poor Lighting
Harsh, bright, and flickering lights are another common migraine trigger for office workers and one that can be difficult to avoid. Fluorescent lighting is especially notorious for causing migraines, due to the harshness and flickering. If you’re sensitive to it, it can cause migraines pretty regularly.
Overhead lighting can be a much more difficult problem to address, but if this is the case in your office, you need to figure something out. Talk to your supervisor about what can be done to adjust the lighting in your portion of your workspace, or it might be time to start looking at other options.
#8 — Noise Pollution
Too much noise is another common trigger for those prone to migraines. If your office has a constant buzz and drone to it, consider getting some noise-canceling headphones to give your brain some peace.
#9 — Strong Odors
Maybe it’s an overwhelming perfume, maybe it’s your coworker that slips out for a smoke break now and then, but whatever it is, it could be giving you migraines.
Addressing odors can be tough, so put on your taking-care-of-business pants and start having conversations about what you can do to make work less of a trigger for you. If it’s an office-related odor, like cleaners or copy ink, you may need to try an air purifier for your office or desk, but if it’s a personal odor, a conversation with your neighbor may be in order.
#10 — Sitting Too Much
Often, migraines boil down to an issue with circulation. When we sit too much, our blood has nowhere to go, and nothing to encourage it to keep moving. Try a combination sitting/standing desk if you suspect this is what’s triggering your migraines, or take frequent breaks from sitting at your desk.
#11 — Not Getting Enough Fresh Air
Indoor air pollutants can be a major health concern for a lot of reasons, but namely, they can trigger migraines. While air quality control is certainly something your employer is obligated to oversee, you can also help yourself by using your break to get outside, not just to the breakroom.
Do you suffer from migraines at work? What have you tried that’s helped to keep them at bay? Tell us in the comments below!