Social Media Migraines


People with migraines always look for patterns. Causes of migraines so they can mitigate them. It’s something we have to do.

With all the promoting I’ve done over the past 8 months, I’ve noticed that when I get really overstimulated, a migraine is likely to follow.

I can recognize the precursors. I usually have an uber productive 12-14 hour day. A day where my mind is firing on ever cylinder. A day where I feel invincible. But it usually ends in a night where I cannot slow down my thoughts. I cannot focus my mind.

It feels like it’s spinning too fast and I’ve lost all control over it.

One thing that seems to trigger this is repeated exposure to social media ย (Facebook and Twitter) in a day. If I check in 1-2 times, I’m okay. I can do all that multi-tasking with instant messages and notifications flying at me.

But if I make the mistake of checking in more often, my mind starts to move too fast. It slips a little beyond my grasp.

And focusing becomes impossible.

It’s almost as if my mind were rewiring itself to adapt to social media but then it couldn’t shift gears and go back to regular thought patterns.

So I’ve been limiting my social media time more strictly. I’ve been focusing by reading books for an hour or two a day. And this seems to help.

As a writer, I need quiet to create. I need to be able to get absorbed in the storyworld and forget everything else. It’s helps me outline better and work through the kinks in my own story.

I’m online everyday, but it will be in much more controlled doses.

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36 Responses to Social Media Migraines

  1. Spending too much time at the Mall of America will also give you a migraine. ๐Ÿ™‚ That said, I think you are right. Social media, Twitter in particular can provide over stimulation in a big hurry. Finding the right balance is a never ending task.

    • Agreed. We went in with a targeted approach. Park near the stores we want to see. See them. Eat. Get out. ๐Ÿ™‚ Otherwise it’s too much. I envy those who can be overstimulated and not progress to a migraine. Unfortunately, I’m not one of them. ๐Ÿ™

      • I visit the madhouse every other year or so. Or, when someone comes to visit and they want to go. Otherwise I stay away. I’ve only had two migraines in my life and I can do very well without them, thank you. I feel for people who suffer with them repeatedly.

        • You’re a trooper to take people there. It’s intense. They run in family. My grandmother, my cousin and I all get them. It’s so debilitating. Sound and light become unbearable. When I lived in NYC it was way worse. So hard to avoid noise.

  2. Anyone who has never suffered with migraines has no idea how debilitating they can be. You nailed it with the precursor, Kourtney. I’m now able to predict when I’ll have a migraine based on how hyper I was the day before. Over stimulation is definitely a trigger for mine. I have discovered taking magnesium and calcium supplements reduce the number of manic states I have, prior to the onset of a migraine.

    • I know. People tell me it’s just a headache. And I wish it were. It feels like brain cramps. And many times I can’t move without agony. My medication provides relief but it can take hours to stop the migraine. Oh that’s great to discover that. I’ll have to see if that helps me. It’s so hard pinpointing the pattern of triggers but when you do, it seems so simple. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Sheila says:

    Looking for patterns in that photo would make anyone crazy. I have no desire to go to the Mall of America if that’s what that is. Even tiny malls tire me out as soon as I step into them. I’ve been blogging and on Twitter too much lately too. It’s dangerous because it really takes away from the writing time. It’s a good idea to step away from it, close your eyes as much as possible, and take deep breaths. Maybe even get out and go for a walk. Stay away from the computer for a while. I hope you’ll feel better!

    • LOL. It’s just too much going on. Yes, that is part of the Mall of America–they have an amusement park inside and that’s just one tiny section of the mall. It really does. And it also messes with your concentration. I had trouble focusing my mind to outline or even read. So I now set aside at least an hour a day to read and I’ve scaled back my online time. The blog is much easier for me to handle. I can respond when I have time. FB and Twitter require such immediacy for everything. I’ve also made sure to add 1 hour of exercise a day. I feel better. Unfortunately, going outside for a walk is a bit treacherous right now–we got a bad ice storm followed by 6 inches of snow and low temps that caused everything to freeze over. I did hit the treadmill yesterday though. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Sheila says:

        That’s funny – Twitter takes much less time than blogging for me but I think I’m just ignoring most of it. ๐Ÿ™‚ Walking on ice can be treacherous so don’t go trying that. I finished your book and of course loved it. I just need to somehow unfreeze my thoughts enough to do a review. Thank you for such a great story!

        • Twitter is so much a time thing, but the activity gets my mind going too fast. Trying to read and respond and be in hashtags. It is too much coming at me at once. I’m okay with a quick jump on to reply to things or post something, but trying to be in the twitter stream makes me feel like I’m drowning. ๐Ÿ™‚ Yeah, agreed on that. Staying indoors for a while. Aw thank you! I’m so glad you liked it. Really appreciate the review whenever you are properly warmed and have time. Sales have been a bit slow this month. Holidays and all. Oddly books don’t seem to be a big gift. If only I were selling iPhones. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. Carrie Rubin says:

    I’ve found that for our sanity, we have to do this. One could be on social media 24 hours straight every day and still never really ‘catch up,’ because there’s always something new waiting. I made changes as well. I still check into FB, Twitter, and my blog daily, but I only go through my Twitter lists every 3rd day or so, and I only post on FB one or two times a week, and of course on my blog, I only post weekly. I try to vary which medium I focus on that day, though blogging and reading other blogs certainly takes more time than the others. I’ve also given myself permission to take blog breaks of up to 2-3 weeks. For example, after next week’s post I’ll take an extended break off over Christmas and the New Year’s. To maintain our balance, I think we need to back away from the Internet a bit.

    Your pic is from the Mall of America, right? I’d recognize that indoor mayhem anywhere!

    • So true Carrie. I do the same thing–daily to blog, FB and Twitter. But I used to do 5-10 check-ins a day. Now I’m down to 3 for FB and blog and 1 for Twitter. That’s smart to vary the medium of focus. I try to set aside 1-2 days a week for catching up on blog reading. That permission to take a break is a terrific idea and one I am going to mirror–I think I will take a break from Dec 24-31.

      Yes, it’s the amusement park section. I thought it best embodied the chaos of social media. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. Mae Clair says:

    I’m fortunate that I’ve never had a migraine but I have friends who suffer from them, including one who was once hospitalized because her migraine was so severe.

    As a whole, we have far too much stimuli thrown at us through social media. Honestly, I could live happily ever after (make that blissfully ever after) without Facebook, but being an author has forced me to have a presence there. Because I rarely check it, I routinely end up trying to silence the guilt demon. Twitter, on the other hand, I’m happy to check several times a day because my interaction there is so brief.

    Every night I unwind by reading before going to bed. I often think “you could/should be on Facebook promoting” but I refuse to give up my reading time. I need it in an over-stimulated world!

    • Agreed. I am a natural introvert who prefers to do one thing at a time. I don’t mind switching tasks but one at a time. Even with tv. If I have the tv on, I can’t have someone talking to me. It’s too much input at once.

      I am on FB and Twitter for my writing career too. I hate the instant message feature. I don’t mind an email, but IM is so obnoxious. It’s like someone demanding drop everything for me right this second. I wish I could disable that feature.

      I’m really not sure how FB and Twitter impact my sales or if they do. But I feel like I need to be visible and reachable. And I want to interact with readers and friends.

      I do that now too. Reading and a little Vampire Diaries before bed. Reading is essential to writing. I’m amazed how much reading I can do when I cut back on tv and online time. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. EllaDee says:

    I don’t envy you the migraines. I’ve had them in the past with varying severity and after 20 years & innumerable tests a doctor finally came up with the reason why. The contraceptive pill prescribed in my late teens for low blood pressure was giving me mini-strokes… aaargghhh, the medical profession. I’ll never forget the look of horror on the doctor’s face as I was describing the symptoms…
    I found I was more susceptible to migraines when I was tired and/or had low blood sugar. Caffeine and sugar helped ease them off.
    We all need to have a balanced life, on and offline, you’re wise to factor in some quiet time ๐Ÿ™‚

    • My grandmother suffered through them most of her life. Oh my god, that is really awful and scary. Thank goodness he figured it out. My blood sugar/hormone issues definitely trigger them too. I enjoy my relationships on my blog and Facebook. I just wish there was a way to check in unseen and do stuff on FB. Then it wouldn’t feel so intense. Hope I can stick to it in the New Year–there’s a new resolution. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. jmmcdowell says:

    There’s a growing number of studies showing that social media and our computer gadgets do rewire our thought processes. That really strikes me as a potentially bad thing. And too much overstimulation is definitely not good. I really limit my social media outlets, but I still probably spend too much time on the blog and even Facebook, where I don’t post everyday.

    I’ve been thinking about taking a blogging break after my next post, and maybe I should follow through on it….

    I’ve only had two migraines in my life, both before I was 16, and they were horrendous. Luckily, that was it. But I can still remember the pain and nausea. They are definitely not “just headaches”! So take care of yourself and let your brain have a holiday break!

    • I’ve read a couple articles and I was noticing I had tremendous trouble focusing and stilling my mind after too much time on social media. I’ve scaled back and find I’m better. I had a killer migraine 2 weeks ago. I thought I was dying or at least my brain was. I took a break and it helped. And I’ve eased off since then. You and Carrie are right. I’m going to break Dec 24-Jan 3 from blogging. Maybe even a week off of FB too.

      Aw thanks. I will. ๐Ÿ™‚ Hugs!

  8. It’s a constant balancing act. I give myself one hour every morning to read blogs and check in on social media. At the end of my hour, that’s it. Time to move on to whatever writing task I’ve set myself for the day. Since the kids have to be up by 7:00 for school, this helps me stick to a schedule, because it’s usually all the time I get for writing. I may give myself a bit more blog-reading time if it’s a do-nothing evening, but I leave the social media alone. It can be an addicting time-suck, and I’ve learned that life goes on just fine without it.

    I’m glad you were able to pinpoint the source of your migraines so you can do something about it. It’s a miserable way to live. For years I thought mine were job stress related. Through process of elimination I discovered it was dietary. Since I went gluten-free 13 months ago, I haven’t had a single one.

    • It really is. I do something similar. 30-45 minutes before breakfast for email, social media, and such. Then my stomach growls and I go make breakfast. ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s hard because there is so much pressure to be visible on social media when you are trying to soft sell your book. You can’t just say buy my book. You have to take an interest in others and hope they reciprocate. You have to constantly nurture those relationships.

      It’s tough. My medication works. I sometimes weigh the cons of taking it for too long and the migraine goes full blown before I take it. That’s awesome that you found your trigger and are feeling so much better for it! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • I feel for you, Kourtney. My relationship with social media is purely social. I don’t have the pressure of trying to get my work out there, and watching others go through with it makes me wonder if I really want to attempt taking my writing to the next level. I don’t know if I have what it takes from a marketing standpoint, or if I even want those headaches (pardon the pun). I guess I’ll figure it out if/when I ever produce a completed manuscript that’s of sellable quality.

        • I guess that’s the tough part. Social media is primarily a way to keep in touch with readers and build a readership. So it’s part of my work. And I feel a pressure to keep reaching out and responding to posts and being around and visible but not intrusive. I do enjoy the relationships I’ve built and I love my readers. But it’s not easy. ๐Ÿ™‚

          It’s hard to go from writing as an art to the business of being an author. I don’t think it’s for everyone. And I don’t think it has to be. You can have the art and not try to sell it. You’ve still created the art. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. 4amWriter says:

    I don’t suffer from migraines, but I do suffer from anxiety. I notice that when I am trying to do too much at once or if I do things at a super-fast pace, my anxiety level rises. I start shaking, I get sick to my stomach, and I get terrible headaches (but not quite migraines).

    I have given up trying to keep up with social media other than blogging. I only have one solid hour each morning to myself, and I reserve that for my writing. The rest of the day my schedule is at the mercy of everyone else, so I never know when I can get on FB or Twitter — so I don’t. I blog instead, which I still think builds better relationships anyway. I know we need those other venues for our platforms, and maybe my schedule will change enough where I can fit those in on a more regular basis. But it won’t be today! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Ugh. That’s awful. I’m so sorry to hear that. I think writing has to come first and promoting second. ๐Ÿ™‚ Still I think I feel a lot of pressure to be everywhere all the time to keep myself on people’s radar and hopefully influence them to buy a book. If I’m not, I feel guilty, like I’m not working hard enough and putting myself out there enough. But I’m also not quite sure how many sales come from FB and Twitter. I know that the blog has been a great platform and built strong relationships so I try to focus the bulk of my online time here. ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. I really can relate, Kourtney!! I’ve started to limit my social media time as well (and for that reason too). xx

  11. Lori D says:

    I rarely do social media other than my blog, but I know once I’m published again, I’ll have to dive into it. Yuck. I don’t like any of it except blogging. Good for you for taking care of Kourtney.

    • I like Facebook and Pinterest in small doses. But my brain seems to get sucked into a frenzy of activity when I stay there too long. ๐Ÿ™‚ I try to figure out what I enjoy in each platform and do it a bit. Twitter is probably the hardest one for me. There are just too many tweets and hashtags. I only read a tiny bit of the tweets.

  12. Mayumi-H says:

    I think it’s good advice for anyone to take social media in small doses, Kourtney. I’m sorry you get migraines from it, but glad to hear you’re actively tackling the symptoms in a productive and realistic way.

  13. benzeknees says:

    I understand this because I have to limit my time on social media too or I will never get anything done.

  14. Pete Denton says:

    Controlled doses is always a good idea! As a fellow migraine sufferer I sympathise with and recognise the patterns you’ve described. I get lost in Twitter sometimes and I do long to get back to some proper writing.

    • I agree. I’ve been stepping away more lately and my focus is so much better when I’m writing. Striking that balance of maintaining a social media presence but not losing your mind to it is a hard one. ๐Ÿ™‚

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