Have you ever experienced vision changes like flashes of light and blind spots right before an intense headache?
Wait, that’s more than just a headache.
That’s probably a migraine.
Migraines cause severe throbbing pain, usually at the side of the head and symptoms may include nausea and vomiting, numbness or tingling, and sensitivity to light and sound.
There are a few types of migraines, but we can take note of two major ones. In this article I will be covering the two main types of migraines as well as how to apply mindfulness in a simple and actionable sense to reduce stress an improve our brains ability to cope with stressors.
Migraine Without Aura
Migraine with aura was formerly called Common Migraine. Justifying its former name, this is the most common type of migraine. It is characterized by a severe pulsating headache that is aggravated by movement. This likely causes nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to light (Photophobia), or sound (Phonophobia).
Migraine With Aura
Migraine with aura was formerly called Class or Complicated Migraine. Visual disturbances typically appear when you have this type of migraine. You may see flashes of light or temporarily lose your vision. Numbness, muscle weakness, or trouble speaking are also less frequent symptoms of this type of migraine. Usually, these symptoms occur 10 to 60 minutes before the pain kicks In, but in other cases, they may occur one or two days before the pain occurs. See our article on how to stop a migraine aura here.
Migraines usually take hours or days to go away. There are over-the-counter medications available to treat migraines, but prescription drugs might also be necessary for the severe ones.
What causes migraines that we can alleviate with gardening?
A number of factors could contribute to the onset of this consuming pain. Different types of stress because they cause oxidative damage, are linked to migraines. Some of the stressful situations that migraines could manifest from include:
- Anxiety, nervousness, and tension(either physiological or situational)
- Lack of sleep, sleep disturbances or not being ready for sleep
- Stress at work and no good outlet or support system
- Financial problems and living above means
- Drastic changes in life (marriage, divorce, having a child, or moving into a new home(mold), contracting parasites abroad or locally, death in the family)
- Having too much on your plate or burning the wick at both ends
We want to make sure we have strong programs and protocols including lifestyle medicine to deal with the root causes of pain. When finding specifics in lifestyle medicine that work for us, we need to do some exploration work. Not everyone will always be willing to sit down to meditate and empty their mind that way. Instead, they can use gardening because of its strong grounding and mindfulness based benefits. Just the scents of the herbs, the connection with the earth and the immediate presence needed to garden take a LOT of stress off of your brain and body. They disconnect you from that monkey mind and reconnect you to your body.
Just going outside to your garden is already therapeutic because you are telling yourself this is self care time, this is time for me and this is where I can relax. Feeling the breeze and seeing your baby plants growing, is part of the joy that goes into watching your hard work pay off. On top of the mindfulness based benefits with pain and stress reduction, the harvest from your little garden may be beneficial to you too. Planting some herbs that are therapeutic could be a remedy to your head pain issues.
Lavender, Lemon Balm, Rosemary, and Peppermint
These herbs, if planted in your garden, could be aroma-therapeutic. They could also be used in steam baths or blended massage oils. Using them in humidifiers could also bring out their scents.
Aside from aromatherapy, rosemary can be taken internally infused in hot teas or as flavors in your food. They offer a lot of benefits, like regulating blood pressure and intracranial pressure. They are also known to treat migraines.
This is the standard herb for migraines and headaches. It also serves as an analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, as its name suggests.
Gingers have been used traditionally as a remedy for headaches, stomachaches, nausea, and inflammation. A study conducted in 2014 by Maghbooli, et al., found that the efficacy of ginger powder was similar to sumatriptan, a prescription drug for migraines.
Studies show that when you do something you love, it relaxes you and pulls you into the stress-free zone. Nobody is ever so busy that they do not have time for themselves. No matter how busy you are with work, you will always have even a little time to relax. It’s just a matter of prioritization and finding the right tools for YOU.
If you have pests in your garden click here to read a guide on an easy alternative
Tips To Improve Gardening as a Mindfulness Practice
Gardening isn’t so difficult to do when you have everything ready, most notably your time and commitment. Here are some ways you can improve gardening’s effect on stress levels:
Schedule a time
We can all find excuses to not give ourselves enough time for self care, but that is exactly what the burnt out individual does, and we do not want to be them. So schedule it in like you would any high priority task. Make the room for it and hold to your schedule. If you have 30 minutes great, if you only have 15 then awesome, just make sure you take advantage of the full 15.
Cut the social ties
Unless you’re a blogger, your smart-phone should be left inside the house. You’ll want to be completely immersed in the activity and disengaged from the social networks that give you little benefit and feed anxiety, stress and superficial desires that do nothing for your soul. This will also help reset your eyes strain and musculature so that any office sitting and excessive screen time can be balanced out.
When we can bring our focus into singular points of relaxation(the basis of meditation) we can experience a great relieving of the stresses and tensions in our body and brain. Gardening can help you clear your mind so that you are more able to focus on the things you really need to do. Diving into the beauty of nature by noticing color, taste, structure, patterns and scents allows your brain to wrap itself around the present experience.
Mindfulness is a large part of recovering from any chronic pain conditions because we have to reprogram the sensitization which begins happening inside our nervous systems. But, not everyone can do every technique and so just like the right diet, the right mindfulness practise and methods of stress reduction need to be explored and we need to find our own individual fit. There is a form of meditation for everyone. What works for you? Let me know in the comments below.
If you are looking for quick and easy stress reduction techniques with breath-work see our video here.