Anyone who suffers from migraines knows too well how debilitating these can be. Migraines are the third most prevalent illness in the world, affecting almost 12% of the population – including children. While some consider them just an intense headache, migraines are the sixth most debilitating illness in the world, forcing someone in the US to the emergency room every 10 seconds.
Before reaching for another medication to cope with your migraine symptoms, consider incorporating breathing techniques. Breathing has tremendous positive effects on our health and body, to the point that it can control stress levels and reduce migraine symptoms. After all, there’s a reason military members swear by breathing techniques.
1. Deep Breathing
When you’re in pain or struggling with anxiety, you start taking shorter breaths without realizing it. Practicing mindful deep breathing helps you control your stress. Here’s how to try this technique:
- Place your hands on your belly button.
- Breathe in through your nose; make sure your belly expands like a balloon.
- Breathe out through your nose with a long and slow breath. Try to deflate the balloon.
2. Visualized Breathing
Here’s a more creative way of breathing that calls for visualizing relaxing images in your mind. So, to get started, get comfortable, and close your eyes. Then, try this:
- Start by breathing normally.
- Breathe in and visualize peaceful images, filling up your lungs to the point that your belly and chest expand.
- Exhale and visualize the tension being pulled out of your inner self with your breath.
3. Rhythmic Breathing
Also known as the five breaths technique, this breathing style calls for a faster approach that offers a quick remedy to stressful situations. Here’s how to try it:
- Breathe in through your nose and count to five.
- Exhale as you count to five.
- Repeat until you notice yourself getting calmer.
4. Cooling Breath
We tend to hold a lot of pressure when we have a migraine or feel overly stressed. The cooling breath is quite literally a breath of fresh and cooling air that soothes you. Here’s how to do it:
- Close your mouth.
- Open your mouth slightly, but keep your teeth touching.
- Breathe in through your teeth. Raise your chin towards the ceiling and let the cool air rush over your tongue.
- Close your mouth again. Exhale through your nose while bringing your chin back to neutral.
5. 3-Step Breathing
Here’s a breathing technique that requires about 45 minutes of your time, but that can serve as a GR8 morning routine or a bedtime session. Here’s how to do it:
- Start by sitting up straight. Your breath should be at an equal pace.
- Then, start by making your exhalations twice the duration of your inhales. For example, breathe in for two, exhale for four.
- Lastly, repeat the same process, but this time your inhalations should be twice the duration of your exhales. For example, breathe in for four, breathe out for two.
6. Belly Breathing
Similar to deep breathing, belly breathing is an excellent way to start your breathing practice. Start by finding a comfortable, seated position. Here’s how to do it:
- Place one hand right beneath your ribs. The other hand, by your heart.
- Breathe in through your nose, inflating your belly like a balloon. Keep the chest still.
- Pucker your lips and exhale as your belly pulls inward. Try to push your belly button towards your spine.
7. Roll Breathing
Here’s a breathing technique to try when you’re in bed, and a migraine hits you. Start by lying on your back and bending your knees. Then, follow these steps:
- Place one hand on your belly and the other one on your heart.
- Breathe in and fill your belly; make sure it inflates like a balloon.
- Exhale through your mouth, pushing your belly button towards the spine.
- Then, breathe in through your lower lungs and move into your chest. The hand on your heart should rise.
- Exhale making a “whoosh” noise and push your belly button towards your spine as both hands fall.
8. The 4-7-8 Technique
A more structured breathing technique for those who want to visualize what they must do. The 4-7-8 breathing technique can be done sitting down or lying down, your choice. Here’s how to do it:
- Breathe in from your belly in four counts.
- Hold your breath for seven counts.
- Exhale for eight counts, pushing all the air out of your belly.
Breathing techniques are not something that we do naturally. Because breathing is such an automatic process, we tend to forget about the way we breathe. Give yourself time and try these techniques for a while to see which one helps you the most. If your migraine symptoms don’t improve, remember to speak to your doctor about it to make sure you’re choosing the right treatments.
Migraines don’t have to hold you back.