How To Manage Migraine At Work


Migraine can be a cause of missed work and poor productivity, but it doesn’t have to be. If you know what to do in advance, your migraines can actually be manageable at work. Follow these tips to reduce the impact of your migraines on the workplace:

Make a plan for when your migraine starts.

  • Make a plan for when your migraine starts. Be ready to take action as soon as you feel the warning signs of a migraine, like the beginning of nausea or an aura.
  • Have a quiet place to rest if needed. You can ask to use a conference room or other private space in case you need to lie down and not be disturbed for up to an hour at a time during an attack.
  • Write down what you need from colleagues: if they can cancel meetings on your behalf or reschedule them, if they can handle any additional work that comes up while you’re away from work (and if so, how long it will take).

Move to a quiet, dark place that’s comfortable.

In order to manage your migraine at work, you’ll have to find a quiet, dark place that’s comfortable. This can be difficult if you’re in an open office environment or working in a very busy place like a restaurant.

If possible, move to the break room or other area where there is less noise and light. If this isn’t possible and you must stay at your desk, consider using earplugs or noise-canceling headphones and turning off any bright lights. Your goal should be to create as much darkness as possible so that the only light comes from within yourself—a lamp with dimmer controls would be ideal for this purpose! Also make sure that your posture is good; sit up straight but relaxed so that no pain is caused by muscle tension (this may require sitting on pillows). One final note: if you’re having cervicogenic migraines (migraines caused by neck problems), try wrapping a scarf around your neck before lying down; this will help relieve some of the pressure on those sensitive cervical muscles!

Ask your co-workers for help if you need it.

You don’t have to go it alone. Ask your co-workers for help if you need it. If a deadline is looming and your head is pounding, ask them to take over the project or make sure they understand that you can’t handle extra work right now.

If working from home isn’t an option, seek out relaxing spaces in the office or at least open windows so fresh air can come in. Change scenery as often as possible, even if it’s just walking down the hall instead of sitting at your desk all day long (and walking away from bright lights).

When all else fails, take a break!

Don’t be afraid to cancel meetings if you have to.

If you’re the boss, or a manager and your employees are falling ill, it’s okay to cancel meetings. You can even let people know that’s what you’re doing and apologize for the inconvenience. If you’re an employee and aren’t able to make it into work because of migraines, don’t be afraid to ask your manager if there are any meetings or tasks you can miss or postpone for a time when you feel better—and trust me, they’ll understand!

Know when to go home.

If you are having a migraine, go home. If you are in pain, go home. If you are feeling bad and cannot concentrate on your work, go home. If there is any question about how well you are feeling and whether or not it’s safe for you to be at work (or leave), go home. One thing that many people don’t realize about migraines is that they can be extremely debilitating even when they don’t have a visual aura associated with them (a common misconception). A common symptom of migraines without an aura is extreme fatigue:

  • You may feel like sleeping all day long even though it’s only noon!
  • You may not have enough energy to get out of bed in the morning or get dressed for work! That means that if this happens during an attack or even after one has passed but still feels like death warmed over…it’s time to call out sick immediately so that everyone else doesn’t suffer through their own symptoms as well!

Reduce noise.

  • Turn off the TV. If you’re like me and have a tendency to leave your workstation on autopilot while zoning out in front of Netflix, this is a great way to give yourself some peace and quiet. This also goes for leaving social media up on your desktop.
  • Use earplugs or headphones if necessary, but be sure you can hear coworkers when they talk to you – don’t go too far!
  • Wear headphones if that helps drown out background noise, but make sure everyone else does as well (no one wants their coworker playing music loudly through their headphones).
  • If there are other sources of loud noises around the office that aren’t coming from machines or people (elevators, air conditioning units), try using white noise machines until they stop making so much racket!

Gather your supplies ahead of time (including extra glasses and sunglasses).

Migraine sufferers should keep their supplies in a bag or backpack so they’re always nearby. Having your supplies ready to go can help you feel prepared for when an attack hits, and it will give you peace of mind knowing that everything is there when you need it.

Keep the temperature cool.

Keeping the temperature cool can help reduce migraine symptoms.

  • Use a fan. If your office allows for fans, use one to help cool down your space.
  • Take a cold bath or shower before work if you can’t keep the temperature low enough in your office to prevent migraines from starting. The cold will keep blood vessels from dilating and causing pain, as well as reduce inflammation in the area where you feel head pain.
  • Use an ice pack on any areas of skin that are warm to touch—your forehead and cheeks, for example—to relieve some of the pressure caused by dilated blood vessels and inflammation around them

Use a pillow or wrap a scarf around your neck (for cervicogenic migraines).

How to do it:

  • Place the pillow underneath your neck and head, then wrap the scarf around your neck. You can place a small cushion on top of the pillow if you need more support.
  • If you have a lot of tension in your muscles and joints, this may help reduce that pain as well as headaches. This can be done for about 20 minutes at a time three times per day (or every hour).

What kind of pillow or scarf to use:

Any comfortable one will work! The key here is making sure that there’s enough height between where the base of your skull meets the rest of your spine so that when you rest on it, there isn’t any strain placed on these areas (this could actually cause more issues than what we’re trying to prevent).

Have a plan before your migraine strikes at work so you can recover as quickly as possible.

  • Have a plan before your migraine strikes at work so you can recover as quickly as possible.
  • You can recover more quickly if you have a plan and a good plan.


If you have been struggling with migraines and finding ways to work around them, now is the time to start making a plan for when your migraine starts. You don’t want to be stuck at work during an attack—no one does! So start by making sure that your workplace is as comfortable as possible, and then let us know what works best for you in terms of managing these symptoms.