3 Holiday Party Headaches You Can Avoid This Year

Erin Knight

December 18, 2017

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Have you ever had to make an early exit from a party because your head was throbbing? Or maybe you suffered through the headache, but were soo relieved when you could go home and rest…

All too often I hear from people who feel like they are missing out on the best parts of life because of headaches and migraines.

Even if we can be present in body, it’s hard to be there in mind and spirit if you are dealing with physical pain. In my experience, it’s been almost impossible to connect and have a great conversation with someone when I have a headache.

I want to share some strategies that have helped me and many of my Migraine Freedom clients AVOID getting headaches when they are out at social functions. There are three big causes for headaches that come along with holiday parties and get-togethers.

The three headache triggers that are especially bad with Holiday parties are:

  • Hangry Headaches (due to blood sugar spikes/crashes)
  • Red Wine Headaches
  • Pure Stress Overload

#1 Let’s start with Hangry Headaches…

Have you ever felt “Hangry” when you missed lunch? Hangry is a short way of saying feeling irritable, headachey, lightheaded or weak, which are all signs of low blood sugar. Unfortunately for some of us, if we start off with a mild headache from being hangry… it can set off the migraine process – even if we go eat something later. So it’s an important situation/trigger to avoid and prepare for – especially when it comes to holiday parties!

Here are three times you need to watch out for Hangry Headaches at holiday parties:

  1. A tricky thing about holiday meals can be that food is served at times that are off your normal routine – Christmas dinner served at 3pm when your body says “FEED ME” at noon.
  2. The big family meal is at a normal time but your body clock is off because of jetlag…
  3. The event you are going to doesn’t even include a meal, they just serve little appetizers (and if you are on a gluten-free diet like me, you probably can’t even eat half of those).

Regardless of the reason, if you are prone to getting lightheaded, irritable or headaches when you skip meals, prepare a healthy snack to eat at your “normal” mealtime – yes it may ruin your appetite for the main meal, but is it worth it to feel gross and potentially trigger a migraine?

I will typically bring some cut veggies or apple and a paleo beef stick in my bag for these kinds of situations. I don’t always need to dip into my stash, but that way I don’t have to stress about when we are eating, if they will have something I can eat or finding something last minute when they don’t.

#2 Red Wine Headaches

One of the most common things that people will say give them a headache is wine, particularly red wine. The obvious solution is to not drink it, and if you are at an important event where you need to be “on” or traveling, which inherently adds more stress to your life/body… then you may be wise to skip the wine altogether.

However, if you are relaxing at home and willing to experiment there are some things that can mitigate the infamous red wine headache.

  1. Choose your wine carefully. Most American wine is loaded with additives that don’t show up on the label (Dry Farm Wines is one notable exception).
  2. Take 2 caps of activated charcoal and drink a big glass of water before you drink alcohol to help your body flush the toxins.
  3. Try a combination of B-vitamins, liposomal C and/or glutathione to boost your detoxification processes (don’t take it within one hour of the charcoal).
  4. Supplements or essential oils such as cinnamon and grapefruit that help balance blood sugar can help you sleep well after having wine (or desert) in the evening.

#3 Pure Stress Overload

There are endless ways that holiday parties can be especially stressful – dealing with triggering family situations, office politics, or your schedule may simply be overbooked. But I don’t have to tell you that, do I?

Do we have to ride the Stress Train from Halloween to New Years, or is there a way to step off?

If we can get deep for a minute, on a subconscious level a migraine is a way for our body to shut down and escape from things we don’t want to face.

Knowing that, if there have been events or situations that consistently caused migraines or headaches for you in the past, maybe it is the year to sit down and think about why that may be and what you want to choose to do with your time this year.

Are you telling yourself that you HAVE to do something?

It’s easy to get caught up in obligations during the holiday season… but stopping to reflect on our “Have To”s is one of the most powerful ways to cut through the sense of stress and overwhelm that seems to accompany the holiday cheer.

Ideally, a good coach can help you work through what is important to you and how to start putting yourself in situations that align with your values – but my quick trick for getting out of the “I have to” loop is to ask myself what the point of going to the event is

  • Is it to connect with certain people I want to see?
  • To meet new people and potentially form business relationships?
  • To please someone else?
  • To learn something?

Once I figure out what the point is, I ask if there’s a different way I could accomplish the same point (assuming it is something that is actually important to me to do)

For example, if the point of going to said event is to see some relatives I haven’t seen in a long time – perhaps I make plans to visit them in January instead, when things are generally more laid back, it’s easier to travel and I’m going to get more value out of my trip to visit them.

I hope these tips help you stay headache free during this holiday season and that if you go to a party you Choose to go to (rather than Have to go to), that you are prepared with healthy snacks and can fully enjoy the event without the distraction of a headache!