Migraine Triggers in the Workplace: Identification and Mitigation

Migraine Triggers in the Workplace: Identification and Mitigation


Migraines can significantly impact individuals in the workplace, affecting productivity and overall well-being. It is crucial to identify and mitigate migraine triggers to create a migraine-friendly environment. In this article, we will explore common workplace triggers, methods for identifying personal triggers, and strategies for mitigating these triggers in the workplace.

Understanding Migraine Triggers

Migraine triggers are stimuli that can initiate a migraine attack. In the workplace, several factors can act as triggers:

  • Bright lights and flickering screens: Staring at bright screens or working under fluorescent lights for an extended period can trigger migraines.
  • Strong smells and perfumes: Certain scents, such as strong perfumes or chemical odors, can trigger migraines in sensitive individuals.
  • Loud noises and excessive chatter: Noisy work environments with constant chatter or loud machinery can provoke migraine attacks.
  • Irregular meal and sleep patterns: Skipping meals or having irregular sleep patterns can disrupt the body’s natural rhythm and trigger migraines.
  • High stress levels: Workplace stress, such as tight deadlines, conflict, or excessive workload, can contribute to the onset of migraines.

Identifying Personal Migraine Triggers

To identify personal migraine triggers, it is important to keep a detailed migraine diary. This involves recording the following information:

  • Frequency, duration, and intensity of migraine attacks: Note how often migraines occur and how severe they are to identify any patterns or triggers.
  • Potential triggers for each episode: Document any potential triggers, such as specific activities, foods, or environmental factors, that precede a migraine attack.

For example, you may notice that migraines tend to occur more frequently after long work meetings or when you have consumed certain types of food or drinks. Tracking these patterns can help pinpoint specific triggers.

Mitigating Workplace Triggers

Individuals can collaborate with supervisors and co-workers to create a migraine-friendly workplace. This can be achieved through:

  • Raising awareness about migraines and their impact: Educate colleagues and supervisors about migraines and how certain triggers can affect productivity and well-being.
  • Requesting reasonable accommodations: Ask for accommodations that can help mitigate triggers, such as:
  • Adjusting lighting conditions: Install adjustable, dimmable lights or use anti-glare filters for screens.
  • Reducing or eliminating strong smells: Encourage colleagues to avoid using strong perfumes or cleaning chemicals in shared spaces.
  • Implementing noise reduction strategies: Create designated quiet areas or provide noise-canceling headphones.
  • Promoting flexible work schedules: Allow for flexible working hours or breaks to manage stress and maintain regular meal and sleep patterns.

Creating a Migraine-Friendly Workspace

In addition to accommodations, creating a migraine-friendly workspace involves considering ergonomic factors:

  • Ergonomic considerations: Provide ergonomic chairs, adjustable desks, and proper keyboard and mouse positioning to reduce strain on the body.
  • Optimal desk setup and posture: Encourage employees to maintain proper posture and set up their desks in a way that supports good ergonomics.
  • Accessible and quiet break areas: Designate space for employees to take breaks in a quiet, comfortable environment away from triggers.

Managing Stress Levels

Stress can contribute to migraine attacks in the workplace. Managing stress levels can help alleviate their impact. Strategies for stress reduction include:

  • Mindfulness and meditation: Practice mindfulness exercises or meditation techniques to reduce stress and promote relaxation.
  • Breathing exercises: Take regular breaks to focus on deep breathing and restore a sense of calm.
  • Regular breaks and physical activity: Incorporate short breaks throughout the day to stretch, move, or engage in light physical activity, which can help reduce stress.

Furthermore, utilizing employee assistance programs and support networks can provide additional resources for managing stress in the workplace.

Strategies for Migraine Management

In addition to identifying and mitigating triggers, individuals can incorporate the following strategies for migraine management:

  • Consultation with healthcare professionals for medication and medical interventions: Seek guidance from healthcare providers to find suitable acute and preventive medications and determine proper dosages and timing.
  • Maintaining regular sleep patterns: Establish consistent sleep routines to promote overall well-being and reduce the risk of sleep-related migraine triggers.
  • Establishing healthy eating habits: Maintain a balanced diet with regular meals and stay hydrated throughout the day.
  • Engaging in regular exercise: Participate in moderate exercise or physical activity as it can help reduce stress and promote overall well-being.
  • Practicing good posture and ergonomics: Maintain proper posture and use ergonomic equipment to reduce strain on the body.
  • Taking regular breaks: Incorporate short breaks into the workday to rest and recharge.
  • Engaging in relaxation techniques: Explore relaxation techniques, such as yoga or deep breathing exercises, to alleviate tension and reduce the likelihood of migraines.
  • Staying hydrated throughout the day: Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, as dehydration can contribute to migraine attacks.


Identifying and mitigating workplace triggers is essential for individuals with migraines. By creating a migraine-friendly environment, employers and colleagues can support migraine sufferers in their quest for improved well-being and enhanced productivity. Effective migraine management strategies, including medication, lifestyle adjustments, and self-care practices, can further contribute to overall migraine control.

Jenny from Migraine Buddy

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