Migraines, Mornings, and Routines

Morning coffee by Mitchell Kicks (left) and Cam Cottle (right)

Morning is a time we’re supposed to wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day. As many of us know, we often need a little help getting to that “refreshed” state of mind.

Those of us with migraine know that mornings present a unique challenge. If we don’t wake up met with shrill pain, we spend a bit of time analyzing how we feel. Sometimes just in standing up and moving around we leave the fogginess behind us, other days a heavy cloud slowly starts to set in.

Not working and not being in school gives me the opportunity to really fine tune my mornings and make adjustments that pair well with my health and give me the best possible start to each day.

Since being home, my sleeping schedule has shifted. I don’t go to bed until 11:30 PM or 12:00 AM, and sleep until around 9:00 – 9:30 AM.

The best part of my morning routine starts with naturally waking up. No alarm, no immediate responsibilities, just my natural clock deciding I’ve gotten enough sleep.

Half of the time, I roll over to check the clock and realize that regardless of how rested or non-rested I feel, I need to start in on my morning routine.

First Things First: Coffee

I make roughly 2 cups of coffee in my Ninja coffee maker. As it brews, I rest on the couch and really allow myself to check in with myself.

I typically begin glancing through my notifications to make sure nothing demands an urgent response.

With the delightful beep signifying my coffee is ready, I pour my first cup and add a very tiny amount of creamer. As I lean back into my couch and get curled up in blankets, I take my first sip of coffee and allow myself to truly enjoy that moment – even on days where the pain is really bad, the first sip of coffee starts my day on the perfect note.

Slowly Entering The World

While drinking my coffee, I spend about an hour slowly reacquainting myself with the world. I spend a bit of time scrolling through my carefully curated art-twitter feed that is full of inspiration, daily affirmations, and beautiful creations. I briefly check in with Facebook, Instagram, and The Mighty but don’t spend much time on them first thing in the morning.

First thing in the morning I want to focus on being completely in positive spaces and avoid other feeds that may contain breaking news, politics or pressing advocacy work.


The most important meal of the day… that I tend to eat at lunch time.

Since I wake up later, I’m not eating breakfast anytime fitting to the average person. However, due to migraine and the constant nausea that exists, I have to wait around an hour after getting up to put food into my body.

So, what’s for breakfast? I used to eat two scrambled eggs and half a bagel every morning, but this last month in working through my abdominal pain and IBS while striving to incorporate new foods – I found an incredible replacement.

Now, I start my day with some yogurt, topped with blueberries, strawberries and occasionally bananas. I then top that with a scrumptious cacao homemade granola. It’s energizing, tastes good, and makes me feel good.

Medicine and Starting Fresh

Once breakfast is done, I’ve got a handful of medications I need to take.

Regardless of my pain, I get dressed, say good morning to my plants, brush my hair, and make my bed. Making my bed is incredibly important for me, because even if my pain is enough to make me want to just stay in bed, it forces me to not be cooped up in my room all day and I choose to rest on my couch. It’s also soothing having a room look totally put together simply because a bed is made.

Coffee Two and AM Journaling

Once I look prepared to start the day – and no this doesn’t include makeup or any hair styling – I take the time to pour my second cup of coffee and check in with myself.

This involves logging my sleep time and moving to the new corner of my room designated at my reflection space. Here I’ve got three main diaries and my journal. It’s a no phone zone, so I can truly focus on analyzing how I’m feeling, setting goals for the day, and reflecting if I need to.

I start off with with my first diary that prompts me to document how I’ve slept and for how long along with sharing an inspirational quote – this part is where the no phone rule is still getting worked out as both of these come from my phone. (Eternal Sunshine is a great app that shares daily quotes, affirmations, and prayers).

I move into my second diary where I document how my pain levels have been over the last 12 hours, and any medications I’ve taken or symptoms I’ve experienced.

My 3rd third diary focuses on my daily activities. I have to fill out my schedule for the day, share what I’m thankful for and set a few goals for the day.

Each diary also has evening components that allow me to reflect on my day and see how I did compared to when I was checking in earlier that day.

Finally, I have my journal. I currently use this scarcely and have a few journal prompts to guide me. I tend to treat this blog as my journal, so I haven’t caught on to the daily journaling idea that has been proposed as being a part of my routine.

So, why do I need such a strict routine?

Migraines rely on consistency. Having a set amount of tasks be completed the same each day provides an incredible amount of balance to my day.

I’m allowed to take my morning slow – the entire routine typically lasts 2 – 3 hours before I’ve transitioned into taking on the day. My mornings are a time of self care and reflection, and little things like getting dresses, making my bed, and filling out my daily diaries always give me something that I can say I accomplished.

My mornings allow me to understand how the rest of my day will go. If I have to eat breakfast in my dark living room or take pain medicine, my goals for the day end up reflecting that. I put extra emphasis on moving slow and reminding myself to listen to my body. I don’t try and create a daunting list of tasks when I know I’m already in pain.

My diaries give me the opportunity to check in with my pain, symptoms, and self. They don’t serve an incredible purpose in the moments that they’re being filled out, but they serve as powerful resources I can look back on and draw conclusions with.

Some days I compliment my mornings with an uplifting aromatherapy blend. Others I can’t even get to my second cup of coffee. But nonetheless, each morning I strive to keep a routine.

Everyone has a unique morning routine, and there’s a lot of us who struggle with mornings. Whether we’re simply cranky, fatigued, or in too much pain to actually get up in the morning, mornings are hard and the idea of always waking up refreshed doesn’t seem very real.

There are certainly things I’d like to add or change to my routine, but for now this is it.

I’d love to not instantly jump onto my phone and scroll through social media, but I believe having a happy feed makes it not as bad. Perhaps I could focus on stretching or shift my journaling efforts to be done earlier. For now, I know that those efforts are a bit lost, but they’re good to keep in mind for a future goal.

Tell me a bit about your morning routine in the comments below! I’d love to hear what stands out to you or something you try and keep consistent each morning, even when you’re rushed by life to get moving.


4 thoughts on “Migraines, Mornings, and Routines

  1. I love this. Your dedication is inspirational. My pains mostly take me out “completely” for 1-3 days, depending on if I can stave off the worst w meds. Any other day I still have no routine and that’s probably the worst thing I could do to myself. starting with coffee sounds awesome. Ty!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can certainly understand what you mean, definitely try and start out small and don’t feel bad if you can’t stick to your routine perfectly. We’re human and we’re in pain, but we also have room to grow within our pain. I hope starting with coffee can get really help ☺️


  2. There is a fabulous book called the alchemy of herbs, and then it talks about the link between food and illness and how a lot of times change in certain aspects of your diet or staying away from certain foods or eating certain foods can sometimes help whatever condition you have . I don’t have migraines but I do have a pinched nerve in my neck that causes my arms are pretty regularly and I’ve noticed that morning routine surgery just stretching and moving around to it really helps keep me from getting stairs and it helps keep you know my muscles loose so that they don’t impress that nerve and calls the fiery tingling sensation to run up and then my arm I don’t have migraines but I do have a pinched nerve in my neck that causes my arm hurt pretty regularly and I’ve noticed that morning routine such a just stretching and moving around to it really helps keep me from getting stiff and it helps keep my muscles loose so that they don’t compress that nerve and cause the fiery tingling sensation to run up and down my arm . Also a simple daily routine helps my mental health.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooh I’ve got that book on my wishlist!! I’ll have to order it 🙂 I’m so glad you’ve got a good routine to help, I really should be trying to stretch in the mornings but it never even occurs to me.


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