How To Deal With Migraine: Acceptance Is Not Defeat

Living with Migraine | 4 Min. Read
Author: Care Tuner Migraine Team
Reviewed by: Ctrl M Health Medical Directors


  • When you have a chronic disease, it can be exceedingly hard to accept that life will need to come with certain limitations, and that you may never fully realize the life you had once imagined.
  • Acceptance is not waving the white flag of surrender. It doesn’t mean you don’t grieve what was lost, or that your situation is fair.
  • Acceptance does mean acknowledging the reality of your situation and meeting yourself with compassion. It frees you to make informed decisions and take actions that support your health and life goals. 
  • You can then redirect your energy toward living a fuller life in spite of migraine—and not exclusively focusing on controlling migraine at the expense of your big-picture quality of life.

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One of the hardest things about living with a chronic disease is accepting that life will need to look different from here on in. The mind struggles against the very idea. After all, you’re still the same person as before: full of ideas, plans, goals, and human potential that once felt limitless. But migraine has changed your situation. It has presented you with real and undeniable limits. And that means whatever your life was like before, whatever your future plans — those will have to adapt, as well by learning how to deal with migraine.

No, it isn’t fair, and it never will be. You didn’t choose this. Nor do you deserve it. But in order to move forward in your life with migraine, you will need to learn to accept it. Coming to terms with migraine is a critical step in how you will proactively begin to shape your own future with it. Acceptance will allow you to thrive with migraine by freeing you to focus on the things within your control. 

How To Deal With Migraine: Compassion & Acceptance

Acceptance allows you to live your full life

Acceptance is often confused with giving up. But acceptance is actually acknowledging things as they are. Once you’ve acknowledged the objective reality of your situation, you can start to understand the ways you’ve been fruitlessly fighting your situation and stop wasting your precious energy there. Instead, you can learn how to handle migraine by redirecting that energy toward things that will bring greater health, joy, and meaning to your life.

Migraine acceptance involves self-awareness practices to help you:

    • Let go of attempts to control areas of migraine that are not fully within your control (like when your next attack will occur)
    • Identify the things that are keeping you stuck (like feelings of helplessness, or thoughts such as “this will never end”)
    • Commit to actions that will get you unstuck and move you closer to your goals 

The ultimate goal of acceptance is to live a fuller life in accordance with your values — and not exclusively focusing on controlling migraine at the expense of your big-picture quality of life. For example, instead of avoiding taking your kids to the playground for fear it may trigger a migraine attack, you might put your energy into ways you can support success, like doing a body scan meditation before and afterward to reduce unnecessary anxiety. Wearing sunglasses, staying well-hydrated, and muffling the sounds of squeaky swings with earplugs might help. You could also consider timing your outing for early or late in the day when the sunlight isn’t as bright. All of this proactive self-care requires more time and energy upfront. But the payoff is a life that isn’t ruled by migraine.

Acceptance opens the door to better health

Your life is not defined by migraine. However, learning how to deal with migraine allows you to recognize that caring for your health with migraine must now become an important part of your daily life. Maintaining your health will help you continue to engage with the vast expanse of things that matter to you. It needs to be prioritized as such.

When you accept that truth, it frees you to move past the guilt, shame, regret, or denial that may have been preventing you from really taking care of your health with migraine. You can start to see that the time and effort spent proactively working to raise your migraine threshold are investments in yourself, and thus are acts of self-love.

Those actions might include:

    • Seeing a doctor about an effective migraine treatment plan
    • Giving yourself migraine self-care
    • Communicating your needs and limits with those you work and live with
    • Connecting with your networks of support
    • Requesting work or disability accommodations

Start on your path to acceptance

Getting to a place of acceptance is a journey. It asks you to examine yourself and your situation from a new perspective.

    • It asks you to reimagine your life and make adjustments, showing yourself compassion with every step.
    • It asks you to recognize yourself as the person you were before, but with limitations you never asked for.
    • It forces the question of whether you can still accept, love, and respect that person. 

Learning how to deal with migraine means allowing yourself the time, mental space, and experiences you need to begin to move past the grief you may have for your pre-migraine life, and for the future you thought you’d reach by a certain path. Acceptance will help you create a new path forward in a life so much bigger than migraine.

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