"I've been having migraines since I was a teenager," divulges actress Bellamy Young, who plays First Lady/presidential candidate Mellie Grant on the TV series Scandal. "For many years, I tried anything I could to alleviate them. Natural remedies, or prescriptions, or acupuncture, anything—but to no avail. Mine start as a searing pain in my left eye, then my vision—I lose it like I have horse blinders on, it sort of comes in like that. And I know at that point I just kind of have to power down like I'm a computer and I lose the rest of the day, whatever I'm doing. I've lost days on Broadway, I've lost shooting days, I've certainly lost a lot of fun growing up. And I just lived under that cloud." (Psst... This Vitamin Deficiency Could Be Causing Your Terrible Migraines.)
Now, however, she's found relief in a five-pronged approach. Here's the scoop:
Walking (yes, walking). "I walk about six to eight miles a day. It helps my body, but it also helps reduce my stress levels so I can stave off a migraine. I use a health app on my phone to track my steps, and for a while I was very competitive—I'm not competitive with other people, but I am with myself—and I'd be thinking, Oh I can make nine miles today if I made eight yesterday! Lately, I've been slacking down to six miles or so a day, but it's great therapy." (Find out: Is Walking as Good a Workout as Running?)
Yoga. "I'm a little erratic with yoga, because I like to have a good 90 minutes to be able to do the full practice the way I like to do it. I practice usually by myself, but I also love to be with a teacher whenever I can. And when I can't do the full 90 minutes, it's important to get a good stretch in—even just a morning or evening sun salutation; whatever you can do to keep your spine supple. As long as your spine is healthy, the rest of you is healthy too." (Yoga Has Some Major Bone-Boosting Benefits.)
Meditation. "Meditation helps me a lot in terms of stress. I meditate before bed. It's been born out of my yoga practice and teachers I've had over the years. I have to leave my day in the day, and I don't want to take it into my dreams—I do a lot of work in my dreams! So I want to be clear-minded when I go into that state."
Medication. "I went to my doctor and found a medication that works for me; it's called Treximet. I've teamed up with them to get the conversation going so other people know there are options out there. It may not be right for everyone, but people suffer in silence and are often stigmatized—like, oh, it's just a headache, take an aspirin. But migraines are a different beast; the World Health Organization lists migraines as one of the 20 most debilitating illnesses. Treximet has changed my whole life." (Did you know Migraines May Increase Your Risk of a Heart Attack?)
Diet. "I've been a vegan since 1988. I was at college and they plated a breast of chicken strangely and it looked like my mom's dog! That allowed me a perspective that made me realize that my heart and my head and my body were all on the same page. I also used to have terrible cystic acne and it completely went a way when I stopped eating meat." (Here's Why a Plant-Based Diet Is Ideal for Weight Loss.)