6 Ways to Migraine-Proof Your Work Environment

A migraine-friendly environment is crucial for productivity in the workplace. There are many ways and adjustments that can be made to create this sort of environment. Much of the migraine community may wonder if modifying a public workplace is even possible because, well, it is a public workplace after all.

The good news is that more employers are now willing to make reasonable adjustments in the workplace which is a legal right provided to those who are heavily impacted by migraine [1]. We should not hesitate to speak to our managers about how the business or organization can make adjustments to suit our condition! 

Below, we are sharing 6 ways that you can migraine-proof a work environment:


Removing possible light triggers

Virtually all workplaces now make use of fluorescent lights. Most workplaces nowadays also have large televisions around the office. Many jobs also require you to stare at a computer screen for long hours. Since removing fluorescent lights, televisions, or computers from the workplace may be impossible, we can consider 

  • wearing blue-light blocking glasses: get recommendations from the community here

  • adjusting the display settings on your screens: night shift, dark mode, blue light filter etc. are some popular choices 

  • requesting to be placed near windows, so that natural light offers illumination instead of fluorescent light 


Removing possible sound triggers

Loud noises can trigger a migraine attack. It, therefore, makes sense that there is a reduction in the noise around the work environment to the barest minimum possible. For people who work in a naturally loud environment, you should ask to be placed as far away from the sources of noise as possible.

If you are working from home, consider using the room furthest away from where the main activity of the house is at. Otherwise, there are also options such as using noise-canceling headphones or setting up thick curtains in your workroom at home!


Ensuring there is no strong or pungent smell

Strong and toxic smells can also set off a migraine attack. These smells can come from cleaning products, cologne, or cigarettes. Many firms implement scent-free policies in the workplace. If your company does not have one, you can consider asking politely for one. In the meantime, ensure that you keep your immediate worktable free from products with strong odors.


Adjusting your sitting posture

For those who spend 90% of your time sitting in front of a desk, you may find that small changes to your sitting posture can do wonders. Uncomfortable sitting positions can lead to tense muscles, especially in the neck—not so great considering that neck pain is one of the most common migraine triggers!

Try different layouts to find the most comfortable position and don’t forget to maintain an upright posture with adequate back support from a chair. Some migraine warriors also suggest investing in a good, ergonomic chair in order to sustain the long hours of sitting.


Sufficient preparation for an attack

It is necessary that we are always prepared for an attack anywhere we are. Keeping your best reliefs at hand, for example acute medications, can be a life-saver when an attack happens and you need those precious hours to get home without collapsing on the streets.

Pack an emergency kit and keep it on your desk. This kit can contain medications (with sufficient dosage), a bottle of water, some energy snacks, earplugs, ice/heat pack, basically anything that you deem is essential when dealing with an attack! It is also important to keep your managers and fellow colleagues informed of your condition so that they will be ready to take over your workload in case of an attack.


Having somewhere to cool off

The aim is to prevent migraine attacks in the workplace entirely, but this is of course not always possible. Sometimes during a stressful period or when you skipped a meal or two, the migraine attacks can take you by surprise. Therefore, it becomes essential to have somewhere to go to relax during an attack. It should be quiet, cool, odorless, and have dim lights.

Some organizations have rooms specifically for this purpose. If there isn’t a dedicated one at your workplace, politely raise this up to your management/HR or improvise with available empty rooms.

Despite the various ways that we can migraine-proof our work environment, the truth is that we also need to take good care of ourselves. Nobody knows your body better than you, so aside from the physical or environmental triggers that we can change, we should also watch out for other controllable factors. Maintaining a regular sleep schedule, eating your meals on time, doing light exercises, staying hydrated, and stress management routines are also equally important in keeping migraine frequency on the low.




[1] https://www.ada.gov/pubs/adastatute08.htm#12101note

Jenny from Migraine Buddy

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