Tools for Your Toolbox: Emotional Freedom Tapping for Pain/Anxiety Management

Emotional Freedom Tapping (EFT) was something WAY outside my comfort zone the first time I tried it. But, at the recommendation of my acupuncturists and pain management doctor I thought I would give it a whirl—and BOY am I glad I did.

EFT is based on meridian points, or energy hot areas, in your body to restore your body’s energy. Its similar to acupuncture. According to an article from, “its believed that restoring energy balance can relieve symptoms, a negative experience, or emotion”.

The idea of meridian points is based on Chinese medicine (again similar to acupuncture). Meridian points are thought of as places of energy in the body–these pathways (meridian points) can help to balance energy flow and maintain overall health.

Acupuncturists use needles to release energy from these meridian points, the idea behind EFT is that you can do this at home with your fingertips by applying pressure.

Here is a great video that explains how to do EFT .

There have been times that I have done several rounds of EFT during a especially high pain or anxiety ridden day and feel like I have taken a Xanax in minutes—it really works phenomenally! And its something you can add to your toolbox during times of high anxiety, or pain.

I know it may seem FAR OUT or “Weird”, but give it a try—you will be surprised at how you feel after a round of tapping!

Here are some other GREAT articles that talk about EFT in more detail:

Favorite Stretches for Migraine Hangover

The dreaded migraine hangover—you’ve been laying in bed for days (if you are like me), and your muscles feel like you have been beaten with a sack of nickels. Stretching and utilizing a foam roller are SERIOUSLY two of the best tools for anyone with sore and tight muscles. I never realized how wonderful it was until years of PT introduced me after my cervical spine surgeries. On a previous post, I talked about some great ways to use your foam roller to “roll” out some of those pesky back muscles that get tight after a migraine attack. But I thought I would dive a little deeper with some additional GO TO stretches you can do with your foam roller for SERIOUSLY tight muscles after days of an attack!

  1. Chest– Did you know that if your back is tight that you should be stretching your back AND your front body??!! This is yet another thing I learned in PT, that you have to stretch your front body as much as you stretch your back body if you suffer from extremely tight muscles. When my back feels REALLY tight after laying in bed a few days I always make sure to get a good chest/shoulder/side body stretch in as well. This video here shows all the ways I use my foam roller to roll out those muscles. Using your foam roller is great but you can also use a tennis ball and just lay on the tight areas. I can always tell where I am extra tight by what HURTS the most to roll over! Here is a great video demonstrating proper technique for this—it HURTS but is SO amazing for tight chest muscles!
  2. Neck– After a bad attack, my neck can feel SO STIFF! Foam rolling my neck is one of my favorite parts of my day. You essentially get to lay and gently move your head around rolling the foam roller on the icky spots on your neck. Here is a great video that illustrates this. I also will use my other favorite product THE STICK for really stiff neck days.
  3. Lower Back- After laying in bed, a good roll on the foam roller always feels amazing on my lower back. This is a great video that shows how to properly roll out your lower back.

Foam rolling is great, but some gentle yoga and meditation is also a great way to make the migraine hangover days feel less horrible. I really love Yoga with Adriene on YouTube…she has some great yoga gentle flow sequences (this one is one of my favorites), and this lovely meditation .

I hope this is yet another set of tools to add to your migraine hangover toolbox!

Pranamat- A Honest Review

As a chronic migraineur for 6 + years, I am always willing to try ANYTHING that may help with the management of my migraines. When I lived in Oregon, I absolutely fell in LOVE with acupuncture. But since moving to NC, I haven’t been able to find a practitioner that I like and it is no longer covered by my insurance, and I can not afford the $200 per visit!

I had explored the idea of the Pranamat for some time, but it wasn’t until my sister bought one, that I actually was able to take it for a test drive to make the decision to purchase my own.

They are a bit on the expensive side, but from the reviews I have read the Pranamat is far superior to some of the other brands. Amazon does carry a few competitor brands, which I am sure work just as well. The thing that is nice about the Pranamat is there is a 30 day trial period. If you don’t love it then you can send it back! That’s a win win for me!

The mat is also very eco-friendly, made from natural and recycled materials.

My First Time

I have to admit, the first time I laid on it, I was a bit intimidated. If you look at the pictures above, you will see that there are tiny little plastic spikes! Yikes!

The idea of the Pranamat is that it combines acupressure and reflexology points to give you a gentle massage. It is recommended that to begin you only lay on the mat for 5-10 mins, or as long as you can stand. It is also recommended that you lay on it bare skinned, which also was a bit scary!

I have a great deal of upper back and neck tension, which will trigger a migraine if not dealt with on a daily basis. So, I chose to lay on this. You can also stand or sit, or lay on your stomach. The website gives lots of options for ways you can utilize the mat.

Upon laying down on the mat, it felt a little uncomfortable but not at all as spikey as I had imagined. After a minute or so, I begin to feel incredibly relaxed and, very much the same feeling I have when I receive acupuncture. I laid on the mat for 10 mins my first time, and I could feel a difference in my overall upper back tension and neck pain. The relaxed feeling lasted for the remainder of the day (surprising). Again, much how I felt after receiving an acupuncture treatment.

Verdict on Pranamat

Since taking my sisters’ mat for a spin, I have purchased my own mat. I am on day 5 of using the mat, and I am SO in love. I have been using the mat in the morning and evening; adding in my meditation time during the evening use. I have noticed that I have been sleeping more soundly at night ( on the nights that I am NOT having a migraine attack); And my upper back and neck tension has lessened. Overall, I would recommend this product if you have upper back and neck tension triggered migraine attacks. In my opinion, this product gives a nice massage, and mimics the effects of acupuncture, which historically has been incredibly effective for my migraine attack management.

I have not used the mat for any other part of my body yet, but I do believe that this type product is an excellent tool to have in your migraine management tool belt!

*Note-this was my honest review- I am not being paid or compensated by Pranamat.

Creating your Migraine Tool belt

When I began my chronic migraine journey 6 years ago, my tool belt was empty. The only thing I knew that would help me was sleep, so as soon as I got a migraine, I would take medicine and sleep. But over time I realized that was not going to work for the situation that I was in now. Being chronic means that I have 15 or more migraines a month. So having a well stocked tool belt of things I can do utilize to ease pain and help me to get rid of an attack is crucial. Over the past several months I have blogged on some items that I have in my tool belt, but I felt it would be advantageous to have them all listed neatly in one blog post. So, what may you ask is in my tool belt, well here you go:

  1. Headache Specialists- Finding and curating a doctor that you can trust is critical to managing migraines. When we moved from OR to NC two years ago, I was in a situation where I had to find a new doctor and fast. I went through several doctors before I found the right one for me. For one, he is a headache specialists. Not to say you HAVE to see a specialists, but in my experience, Neurologists don’t have the laser focus on just headaches and the most up to date headache research. So IF you can find a headache specialists that you like, then build a relationship with them. This website helped me to find my doctor: Headache Specialist
  2. Support System/Community- This has been critical for me as I have trudged through most of my 6 years of chronicness with only my family and close friends helping me to sort out all the emotions and ups and downs that come along with being a chronic migraineur. It hasn’t been until just recently that I have tapped into the social media aspect. And I have to tell you, IT HAS BEEN AMAZING. Knowing that there are other people out there JUST like ME has helped my mood/depression/anxiety, etc. In my last blog post “The Confidence Killer” . I go into some depth on this topic. In short, YOU need to find a community or support system. If you cant find one, send me an email or find me on social media, I will be yours! We are all in this together, and often I learn more about new treatments or new tools from other migraineurs than from doctors
  3. Alternative Treatments- Again, I spoke about some of my experiences with alternative treatments in my blog posts “Alternative Treatments for Pain Relief” and “CBD for Pain Management” . Over the years I have tried MANY different treatments to alleviate the pain. Some that have worked the best for me, might not be the best for you, so that is why it is critical that you try as many as you feel comfortable trying! I know there is a lot of controversy surrounding “medical marijuana”, but Ill be honest, I’ve tried it; and it helped me IMMENSLY during the times when I had lost 20 lbs from not being able to eat from nausea. I currently do not live in an area of the country that allows for medical marijuana, so I choose to use CBD derived from Hemp, which is helpful to alleviate the pain, and doesn’t get you “high”. But I’ve also tried other things like acupuncture, reiki, EFT-Tapping, Chinese herbs, special teas, specific vitamins and minerals. One particular regiment of vitamins that I am on per recommendations from my doctor and acupuncturist is: Vitamin C with Bioflavonoids, Fish Oil and Magnesium. If you do any research on these you will find that they can be helpful in the reduction of migraines. I have not noticed any HUGE reduction, but what can it hurt to take them!
  4. Exercise/movement- I hesitate to say exercise, because, sometimes exercise does nothing but exacerbate my already throbbing head. But some sort of movement throughout my week, can help, even if its some light stretching, yoga, or a walk around the block. For years, exercise (specifically running) was my stress relieve. After my 3 spinal surgeries, running is completely off the table for me, so I’ve had to find other ways that I can get my blood pumping. Yoga has been great for me because you can do it at home (which is nice with having the baby), and it doesn’t take much to set up your own personal yoga space! If you want to give yoga a try (which I would highly recommend if nothing more for the relaxation aspect)- check out my favorite you tuber yoga instructor – Yoga with Adrien
  5. Detox baths- Soaking in a tub with Epsom salt once or twice a week can do wonders on an aching back and shoulders. If you are like me and have headaches that will start at the base of your neck, an Epsom salt soak can help to relieve that tension and also is a great way for your body to absorb magnesium (which has been found to be depleted in individuals with migraines). If you don’t have time for a bath, a 20 min Epsom salt foot soak can also do the trick.
  6. Massage-A majority of my migraines begin at the base of my neck and are as a result of tension and stress in my back. I try my best to stretch daily, but lugging around a 20+ lbs. toddler its hard not to have some tension. So that is why I will treat myself to a 30 minute massage every few weeks that focuses specifically on my upper back and neck. If you can’t afford a massage, no worries, you can easily purchase a foam roller and give yourself a little massage that way. I foam roll daily to keep things loose. Another way to get a massage and not pay a huge price, is look into local community colleges that have massage therapy programs, they often are looking for individuals to practice on for a cheaper rate!
  7. Self- Care- Until having a baby at the ripe age of 38, I was HORRIBLE at providing self care. I would do the occasional face mask, but now that I have a child AND struggle with chronic migraines, I find that carving out a few minutes a day JUST for me is critical. Sometimes that can make or break a headache. Self-care is NOT SELFISH! Remember that. Self Care is needed to provide you with the support you need, and is yet another wonderful tool for your tool belt!

I could go on and on with my the tools in my belt, but I will save that for another day. Remember guys, BE KIND to yourself. If you are having a hard day, stay in bed and rest, but if you feel ok then go out and LIVE! We are only given this one life, lets try to make the best of it- Chronic Migraines and all!