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  • Writer's pictureDiana Anderson


Our world has changed considerably over the past year due to Covid-19 and we must adapt. Fortunately, we humans are adaptable so we will come out of this pandemic stronger as a whole. For now, most of us are required to were masks in public spaces.

For those of us who suffer from migraines, a mask can be a trigger to put us into a tailspin of pain and other horrific symptoms. While required to wear a mask, we can take steps to ensure that our own health is not negatively impacted.

This new topic of masks and migraines needs some attention

1. Why wearing a mask can trigger a migraine.

2. How to prevent a migraine while wearing a mask.

3. What to do for long-term mask wearing while at work or on a commercial flight.

Why wearing a mask might trigger a migraine:

  • When we cover our nose and mouth with a mask it will automatically cause us to take shallow breaths.

  • Masks can feel claustrophobic and raise our body temperature which can trigger a stress response.

  • When we wear a mask, we tend to tighten our jaw, this can cause nerves and blood vessels to pinch and constrict blood and nerve flow to the head.

  • Any of the above issues can trigger the nervous system to go into fight or flight which will direct blood flow away from the head.

How to prevent a migraine while wearing a mask:

  • Develop astute body awareness by paying attention to your breathing, jaw and neck tension, movement of the spine and your emotions.

  • Breathe slowly and deeply.

  • Pull the mask away from your nose when it is safe to do so to take in a deep, slow breath.

  • Anytime you remove your mask to consume water or food, take as many deep breaths in a row as possible.

  • Keep your jaw relaxed behind your mask, relax your tongue by letting it fall forward and hold the jaw gently in the palm of your hands communicating to the body to relax.

  • Smile a lot behind your mask. Not only will this communicate to your nervous system that all is well, but it will help prevent your jaw from tightening up.

  • If your neck and face become tight at all, do gentle stretches to release the tension.

  • Pay attention to your posture. As we keep distance form others, we tend to stiffen and contract, to protect our energy and theirs. Be conscious of your level of tension. Relax the muscles as you respect your space and the space of those around you.

Tips for wearing a mask while on a commercial flight:

  • Stay extra hydrated with electrolytes because air travel is very dehydrating.

  • Get a good night’s sleep the day before and after traveling. This is critical to the nervous system and for the liver to detox the blood.

  • Be very aware of your body, your breathing pattern and any tension you may feel.

  • Stay as relaxed as possible.

  • Alternate smiling and dropping the jaw with tongue forward. No one can see your face behind the mask.

  • Meditate with music.

  • Close your eyes while on the plane for less stimulation to your central nervous system.

  • Stay off of ALL SCREENS!!!! They will interrupt your body awareness and the body-to-brain connection. Air Travel already keeps us from feeling grounded, electronics will exacerbate the problem.

  • Stay “grounded” while you are in the air. You can do this with body awareness, low frequency music such as drumming, or by using essential oils that are subtle enough to have on the plane. Also, meditation, imagining pets and nature are helpful.

Additional tips for wearing a mask while at work:

  • Consider all the above suggestions, especially hydrating with electrolytes, keeping the jaw relaxed and breathing deeply.

  • Certain essential oils can help you relax – peppermint oil, Bergamot orange, Lavender, chamomile.

  • Topical products to help relieve tension- White Flower essential oil mix, Arnica/Ginger topical mix.

  • Move your spine often to release tension.

  • Get adequate sleep each night in a soothing environment.

  • Stretch frequently throughout the day.

  • Check your posture, jaw and neck often for tension.

Masks are a part of our lives for now. We all need to adapt to this new way of presenting ourselves to the world without letting these face coverings trigger a migraine. Following these simple, attentiveness strategies is your best protection against pain developing while out in public. Awareness and staying grounded as well as all of the above-mentioned suggestions are important for avoiding migraines anytime. The mask just adds a new level to our diligence and mindfulness. Stay safe out there and be kind to yourself through lots of healthy self-care.


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