Migraine Triggers at Work

Migraine and Working at a Restaurant

Migraine triggers at work are everywhere! My Migraine Life has created many work experiences and my work environment has always affected the way I manage while I’m there. Living with migraine and working at a restaurant, it’s not easy! My favorite restaurant is closing! It is a place I worked at in high school and I have spent countless family meals. Four generations of my family have known it and its owners. 

It’s my personal “Cheers.” There are too many memories to list. My husband asked my parents to marry me there. When I was pregnant, I craved their potato skins. At that time, the cooks would see me in the parking lot and bring them out to me with our drinks so I wouldn’t have to wait for a second longer. It is a place my children yell out the window and wave at and a place I have sweet memories with my grandpa. I am sad that it is closing and that all my memories will be in the past.

Migraine Triggers at Work

While I reflect on all the years at my “Cheers,” I remember hostessing. I believe everyone should work in the food industry and retail at some point to learn countless lessons. When I was a hostess, I learned a lot. Mainly that people are rude and when they get stressed, they like to yell at someone for uncontrollable reasons. I remember one particularly slammed Saturday night. My station was between the smoky bar and the smoking section, which meant I was triggered every night. 

In high school, I was episodic and not the chronic walking migraine I am today, so I could handle it. As the night progressed, I had a waitress yelling at me about seating her section too often, even though patrons requested to be placed at a particular table. Then the line began. Here’s the thing about wait time….. it’s uncontrollable. If I saw a check on a table, I could only estimate if the person would pay right away or sit and have a drink for another 20 minutes. 

Work Environment

I ran to help bus tables, expedite food, and seat people at one point. The volume was growing, stress built and the smoke thickened. At this point, a man came and got in my face to yell at me about the wait time. When I say he yelled at me, I mean he bent down to get into my 16-year-old face to scream! He intended to embarrass me, make me cry, and make himself feel great about doing so. I look back and get even madder that I was so young and this man who puffed out his chest was able to send me over the edge. I started crying and the migraine went from about a 5 to an 8+ instantly. It was then that I learned my work environment heavily affects my health.

Work Experience

The owner helping with crowd control saw me crying and immediately put her motherly arm around me and settled things down. It was one of the first times I realized other people had power over me. I want to say I have control over myself but in reality, I could not control my triggers or emotions and allowed the macho-aggressive man to win. 

 I want to say that I learned from this man but I already knew not to be a jerk to other people. Additionally, I thought it was common sense to treat others how you’d like to be treated (It was my elementary school’s motto). I thought seeing the crowd, and that checks were on tables was obvious. I learned that night that people think they are better than you are when being served. How odd. I knew that compassion can come from a boss and that work experience leaves lasting impressions.

What triggers your migraine attacks at work?

work environment work experiences

Dealing with a Migraine at Work

This was an important lesson because, working as an adult, I have seen very little compassion from my bosses. It was a day I remember so vividly because I didn’t understand migraines and how they worked, just that they hurt and disabled me. In hindsight, I would tell my 16-year-old self that I can’t control others. I can only control how I react. It is something I allowed to happen just a few weeks ago and still struggle with today. I can’t handle people getting mad at me but allowing myself to get thrown into a migraine is allowing them to win and that’s defeating. 

Being a people pleaser, and don’t like to be yelled at or surrounded by negativity. I don’t do well with stress. I think that others’ attitudes can bring me heightened pain when they can walk away and enjoy life, as nothing has happened to me the most. When people mistreat me, I get sick. The power others hold over me is frustrating and makes me want to avoid people with nothing nice to say. 

Migraine in the Workplace

Lessons from Migraine and Working at a Restaurant 

  • Treat others the way you want to be treated. 
  • I can only control how I react. This lesson is something I’ve been working on for almost 20 years.
  • Everyone has bad days, and everyone will do something to make someone else mad. The way you react to that madness is essential.
  • Bosses can be human and kind.
  • Tip your servers and say thank you to your hostess. You don’t know how their day is going, and they don’t know about you. It’s just the right thing to do. Be kind, or at the very least, don’t be rude. Passing on negativity is poison. It makes me sick.
  • Remember how vital work experience and work environment are to your health.

Want to know more about how to better your situation at work?

Check out my 13 ways to survive migraine at work

Weighted Blanket

Allay Lamp- Green Light Therapy

Headache Hat- Ice Hat

Heat Wrap


Bed of Nails


Sarah Rathsack

Sarah tells stories of My Migraine Life. Living life through Migraine consists of advocacy, treatment, prevention, and searching for health and happiness in a positive honest way. Her kids, husband, dog, family and friends motivate her to make a difference in the Migraine World.

You Might Also Like:

Migraine Blogging Anniversary: How My Experiences May Help You

This post dates back to my very first blog entry. My Migraine Blogging Anniversary has come and gone ...
Read More

Why I’ve joined up with Miles for Migraine and Increased My Advocacy?

Why I've joined Miles for Migraine? I recently got a flashback of one of my first posts ever. ...
Read More

Mindfulness Activities Kids the Family will Enjoy!

Mindfulness activities for kids are a way to connect with self and emotions healthily. This year has been ...
Read More


  1. Jack on January 13, 2016 at 10:41 am

    That is very nice. You might want to print this and send it to the family.
    Love, dad

  2. Sally Harrold on January 13, 2016 at 11:43 am

    Something I learned in my Chronic Pain group is that chronic pain sufferers tend to be people pleasers. I know I am. We, as a group, tend to “wear our hearts on our sleeves” and let emotions rule, I was told. I think there’s quite a bit of truth to it. Our emotional baggage causes stress and our stress exacerbates our pain.

  3. Amy Bobbitt on January 13, 2016 at 6:49 pm

    This is so true of me. People pleaser and can’t say no because I want to show people I am not labeled by my migraines(which only makes things worse). I’m a nurse so you add to that list that when people are sick they tend to demand but I have come to learn they are really scared and in pain too. So thanks for your prospective on dealing with mean people.

  4. Virginia Axon Optics on January 18, 2016 at 5:02 pm

    I am the same way, both a people pleaser and someone who can be made physically ill when mistreated. I’ve found that the cruetly shown in the restaurant industry was at least more honest than the sneaky way people are cruel to you in the professional world. It’s disheartening. I’m sorry to hear that your restaurant is closing, I hope you visit as often as you can before the last day!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.