Exercise regularly

During physical activity, your body releases certain chemicals that block pain signals to your brain. These chemicals also help alleviate anxiety and depression, which can make migraines worse. If your doctor agrees, choose any exercise you enjoy. Walking, swimming and cycling are often good choices. But it's important to start slowly. Exercising too vigorously can trigger migraines.

Manage stress

Stress and migraines often go hand in hand. You can't avoid daily stress, but you can keep it under control — which can help you prevent migraines.

  • Simplify your life. Rather than looking for ways to squeeze more activities or chores into the day, find a way to leave some things out.
  • Manage your time wisely. Update your to-do list every day — both at work and at home. Delegate what you can, and divide large projects into manageable chunks.
  • Take a break. If you feel overwhelmed, a few slow stretches or a quick walk may renew your energy for the task at hand.
  • Adjust your attitude. Stay positive. If you find yourself thinking, "This can't be done," switch gears. Think instead, "This will be tough. But I can make it work."
  • Let go. Don't worry about things you can't control.
  • Relax. Deep breathing from your diaphragm can help you relax. Focus on inhaling and exhaling slowly and deeply for at least 10 minutes every day. It may also help to consciously relax your muscles, one group at a time. When you're done, sit quietly for a minute or two.

Keep a migraine diary

A diary may help you determine what triggers your migraines. Note when your migraines start, what you were doing at the time, how long they last and what, if anything, provides relief. Eventually you may be able to prevent migraines by changing patterns in your daily life.

Strive for balance

Living with migraines is a daily challenge. But making healthy lifestyle choices can help. Ask your friends and loved ones for support. If you're feeling anxious or depressed, consider joining a support group or seeking counseling. Believe in your ability to take control of the pain.

Aug. 15, 2012 See more In-depth