Category Archives: Health and Wellness

The Alexandria Papers Newsletter #64

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The Alexandria Papers Newsletter #64 | Dr. Alexandria Szeman 15 January 2023


Mindfulness

How to Use Mindfulness for PTSD | VeryWell

Using mindfulness for PTSD may be a good way of coping. Mindfulness has been around for ages. However, mental health professionals are beginning to recognize that mindfulness can have many benefits for people suffering from difficulties such as anxiety and depression.


Migraine

Guide Me: How Can I Prevent the Next Migraine Attack? | Migraine Again

It’s easier to prevent a migraine attack than treat one. Discover evidence-based strategies for prevention, including natural and alternative remedies.


Trauma and Sexual Abuse

5 New Year’s Resolutions for Trauma Survivors | Psychology Today

Trauma survivors struggle to take care of their mental health as much as their physical health, but this should be prioritized in the new year. Unmet needs in childhood often manifest in adulthood, leading to unhealthy behavior patterns-but 2023 can be the year to start unpacking.

RAINN Online Hotline

Do you need help dealing with sexual assault, rape, or incest? Call @RAINN ‘s Hotline 800.656.HOPE (4673) to talk to a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area. Don’t feel comfortable talking? Use chat/text instead.


Mental Health

How to spot an eating disorder | Psyche

When you are close to someone – a family member, a romantic partner, a longtime friend – you are likely to be fairly attuned to subtle changes in behaviour that could signal a shift in that person’s wellbeing. For many people, these changes are connected to eating.

How to Start a Self-Care Journal | Read Poetry

If you’re a writer, chances are you have a stack of journals tucked away in the back of your closet, likely filled with memories, heartbreaks, and musings. Many of us as a means of self-care to process thoughts, feelings, and experiences. But have you ever created a journal solely for self-care?


Books

Awards: Best Memoirs of 2022 | SheReads

Every year thousands of our readers vote for their favorite books of the year in the She Reads Awards. Find out more about the books that were nominated and see which book was voted the Best Memoir of 2022. The winner of the Best Memoir of 2022 is . .


Cooking and Baking

30 Easy Bread Recipes for Beginner Bakers | Taste of Home

Baking bread is more popular (and easier) than ever! If you’re new to it, don’t be intimidated. Consider these easy bread recipes and become the baker you always knew you could be! Be sure to check out our ultimate bread baking guide, too.


My Books

While the Music Lasts: Poem to My Younger Self

Each night, standing in the hallway at the open / door of the bedroom, I see you lying in the / fading light, his arms around you, your head on his / chest, his lips against your hair, and I want to tell / you everything. 

Books by Alexandria Constantinova Szeman

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The Alexandria Papers Newsletter #62

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The Alexandria Papers Newsletter #62 | Dr. Alexandria Szeman 1 January 2023

Happy New Year 🎉


Mindfulness

Want to Eat Mindfully? Here are the BASICS | Mindful
Looking to bring mindfulness to the dinner table? Lynn Rossy shares six steps to prime your mind for savoring your next bite-whether it’s chicken nuggets or kale. BASICS is an acronym for a complete set of guidelines that walks you through the mindful eating process from beginning to end.

Migraine

Migraines: Steps to head off the pain | Mayo Clinic

Migraines cause pain as real as the pain of injuries – with one difference: Healthy habits and simple remedies sometimes stop migraines before they start. By Mayo Clinic Staff Medicine is a proven way to both treat and prevent migraines. But medicine is only part of the story.


Trauma and Sexual Abuse

Being ‘Miss Independent’ May Not Be As Healthy As You Think | Shape
There’s a lot of cultural celebration around the concept of independence, particularly in the United States. People who can take care of themselves receive praise, and the terms “self-made” and “single-handedly” are markers of true, hard-won success.
RAINN Online Hotline
Do you need help dealing with sexual assault, rape, or incest? Call @RAINN ‘s Hotline 800.656.HOPE (4673) to talk to a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area. Don’t feel comfortable talking? Use chat/text instead.

Mental Health

7 Daily Habits That’ll Improve Your Mental Health in 2023 | CNET
Making goals for the new year is a ritual we all take part in right after the holidays pass. Maybe this year you’ve made a resolution to get out of debt or devote more time and energy to eating better.

Books

Keeping on with the Reading Trend | Sixty and Me
Since reading is a great pastime for women our age – and for anyone, really – here’s another list that I was able to complete and review. Continuing my search for funny women authors over 50, I stumbled across Jenny by researching her agent for a client of mine.

Cooking and Baking

No Knead Fig and Walnut Bread | Mangia Bedda
This easy no knead fig and walnut bread is fragrant with cinnamon and lightly sweetened with honey. All is you have to do is stir all the ingredients together and forget about it for 6-24 hours. Enjoy slathered with butter or cream cheese for breakfast, as a snack or any time of day!
26 Seriously Useful Baking Tips You’ll Wish You Knew About Sooner | Tasty
To help make your bakes the absolute best.

My Books

Holiday (a poem)

“Day followed day, and this and that Seemed to be happening As always, but through it all Already loneliness was seeping.”

Books by Alexandria Constantinova Szeman
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Filed under #CSA, Baking, Books, chronic pain, Chronic Pain Treatment, Cooking, Health and Wellness, hemiplegic migraines, Mental Health, migraine, migraine self-care, Migraine Treatment, Migraine with Aura, Migraine Without Aura, migraines, Newsletters, Trauma

The Alexandria Papers Newsletter #60

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The Alexandria Papers Newsletter #60 | Dr. Alexandria Szeman 4 December 2022


Mindfulness

Guided Meditation: Notice How Sadness, Loneliness, and Anger Show Up in Your Body – Mindful

 

 

Instead of trying to make difficult emotions change or go away, you can simply tune in to how they show up in your body, and see how they’re always changing on their own. When we’re caught in the throes of an emotion like sadness, loneliness, or anger, shifting our awareness into our body allows us…

 


Migraine

Self-Care: The Struggle is Real | Migraine.com

 

 

A man with migraine shares how he put his loved ones and responsibilities ahead of his self care when he had episodic attacks.

 

7 Self-Care Practices Every Migraine Sufferer Should Know

 

 

A hangover headache is bad enough, but a full-on, out-of-nowhere migraine attack? What’s worse? If you are a migraine sufferer, no matter how long it lasted, you know what your brain and body can feel like after an episode. You’re tired AF, cranky, and probably feel like crying.

 


Trauma and Sexual Abuse

How to Actually, Finally, Truly Set Some Boundaries With Your Family This Holiday Season | WonderMind

 

 

If you’re dreading the holidays because they typically come with ~family drama~, I’d like to introduce you to the magical power of setting boundaries with family. You’ve probably scrolled past a TikTok or two about the importance of this powerful thing called a boundary…

 

Resources for Sexual Assault Survivors | Greatist

 

 

We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Here’s our process. Trauma is easier to cope with when you have support, just like a broken bone is easier to set with a cast.

 


Mental Health

Keeping a Journal Isn’t Lame, It’s Self-Care | YourTango

 

 

At one of my very first Scholastic Book Fairs, I begged and pleaded with my mother to get the “Dear America” package. It was one of my favorite book series growing up, and it even came with a hardcover journal so you could add pages when you ran out.

 

Exercise for Mental Health: 8 Keys to Get and Stay Moving | NAMI

 

 

Mental illness has deeply impacted my life. I have experienced the flooding of anxiety and the drowning of depression. I have waged, and won, several battles with postpartum depression and been through loss and grief.

 


Books

What Can We Learn From A 1794 Novel About Turning Points In Crime Fiction? | CrimeReads

 

 

Turning points are incredibly important landmarks in crime fiction. They are the peak or series of peaks we climb to, where everything shifts inside the story. These moments are when we realize nothing is what it seems. Once we reach them, whether it is the climax of the book or an earlier point of…

 


Cooking and Baking

A Guide to the Essential Regional American Pizza Styles | FoodAndWine

 

 

Before the 1950s, most Americans didn’t know what pizza was. Arriving to the U.S. in the late 1800s, it was considered a cheap “ethnic” food, eaten mostly by marginalized Italian Americans in hole-in-the-wall restaurants or on the street.

 

Top 20 Tips for Food Bloggers | Cookie+Kate

 

 

I wish I had some magic secrets or shortcuts to share, but the truth is that food blogging is hard work. I receive questions about the subject fairly often, so I sat down to compile my best tips for food bloggers and ended up with an even twenty.

 


My Books

Books by Alexandria Constantinova Szeman

 

 

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Filed under #CSA, Baking, Books, Childhood Sexual Abuse, chronic pain, Chronic Pain Treatment, Cooking, E-books, Health and Wellness, hemiplegic migraines, Mental Health, migraine, migraine self-care, Migraine Treatment, Migraine with Aura, Migraine Without Aura, migraines, PTSD, Rape, Sexual Abuse, Sexual Violence, Trauma

The Alexandria Papers Newsletter #59

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The Alexandria Papers Newsletter #59 | Dr. Alexandria Szeman | 20 November 2022

Oh, my, I’m so anxious for Thanksgiving — read: for all the yummy food — that I said there would be no newsletter this weekend. But it’s a week early. It’s “No newsletter next week” because it’s Thanksgiving in the US, and my kitties and I will be celebrating the holiday weekend by eating turkey and all the usual side dishes, including pumpkin pie with lots of whipped cream. So much whipped cream!


Mindfulness

5 Steps to Wind Down and Fall Asleep – Mindful
A bedtime meditation to stop tossing and turning, and get some quality shut-eye. As someone who works every day with patients struggling with insomnia, the most common thing I hear is once the head hits the pillow, the brain doesn’t stop.

 


Migraine

Dangerous Gifts for People with Chronic Illnesses (and Gift Ideas to Swap Them With)
I’m a big fan of samples, which makes Christmas gifts or other exchanges a pleasure. I love trying out new textures, sniffing new scents, and figuring out if the latest product on the block is a fad or of true value. Yet, samples might be dangerous gifts for some.

 


Trauma and Sexual Abuse

Nadine Burke Harris: How childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime
Childhood trauma isn’t something you just get over as you grow up. Pediatrician Nadine Burke Harris explains that the repeated stress of abuse, neglect and parents struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues has real, tangible effects on the development of the brain.

 


Mental Health

10 Ways Minimalism is More Than a Home Decor Trend – The Simplicity Habit
Inside: There are many ways that minimalism is more than a home decor trend. Read on for ten ways it can improve your home, life, and the planet. A guest post by Cora Gold The word “minimalist” is used to describe everything from watch and clothing designs to art and home decor.

 


Books

10 of the best novels set in nature to escape into the wild – Tolstoy Therapy
A quick note that some of my posts contain Amazon affiliate links. When you buy through these links, I may earn a commission. “There are some who can live without wild things, and some who cannot.” Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac Over on Live Wildly, I recently shared my selection of the most…

 


Cooking and Baking

Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday in the United States, and Thanksgiving 2022 occurs on Thursday, November 24. In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and

 


My Books

Books by Alexandria Constantinova Szeman
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Filed under #CSA, Baking, Books, Chronic Illness, chronic pain, Cooking, Food, Health and Wellness, hemiplegic migraines, Insomnia, Meditation and MIndfulness, Mental Health, migraine, migraine self-care, Migraine Treatment, Migraine with Aura, Migraine Without Aura, migraines, Sexual Abuse, Sexual Violence, The Alexandria Papers Newsletter, Trauma

More Gifts for People with Migraine or Other Chronic Pain

It might seem challenging to buy gifts for someone with migraine, neuropathic facial pain, or other chronic pain, but if you forget the word “cure” in your quest for the perfect gift and think of comforting the person instead, it will be much easier for you to get something that they’ll appreciate. Remember that “chronic” pain means “constant” pain: if it could be eliminated, most of us would have done anything necessary to rid ourselves of the debilitating, sometimes disabling, pain. Gifts for People with Migraine and Chronic Pain explains some of the products that I’ve come to rely on to reduce pain. Here are more of my favorite products that your family, friends, and colleagues with chronic pain might appreciate.

Ginger Root Tea

Migraine attacks and other chronic pain are sometimes accompanied by nausea. While prescription anti-emetics might help prevent vomiting, they don’t do anything to quell nausea. Ginger, whether crystallized, cut fresh from the root, or made into tea, is the best natural remedy I’ve ever found to quell nausea, whether it’s from migraine, medications, motion-sickness, flu, or holiday overindulgence. It has none of the side-effects of pharmaceutical anti-emetics (prescription or OTC) and can be added to liquids so you ensure that you remain hydrated. Ginger is also an anti-inflammatory, and I’ve found that when I drink ginger tea regularly, the neuropathic facial pain is reduced. Therefore, instead of saving the tea for hemiplegic migraine attacks, I have some regularly throughout the day (for Warnings about ginger consumption, see my Natural Nausea Relief).

The best ginger I’ve ever gotten for homemade tea is Tea Spot’s Organic Ginger Root. I realize that tossing a couple of pieces of crystallized ginger into a cup of boiling water will give a faint ginger taste, but Tea Spot’s Organic Ginger Root makes a wonderful tea that I can have without sugar. It provides all the stomach-calming and nausea-quelling properties of the crystallized ginger without any of the sugar. Also, since Tea Spot’s ginger root is dried and chopped, I don’t have to store it in the refrigerator or freezer as I do with fresh or crystallized ginger, which makes it very convenient.

You can get Tea Spot’s Organic Ginger Root for tea in several sizes: $4 sample (2 servings), $13.50 (¼ lb), $46.50 (1 lb). The Tea Spot has a large variety of black, green, and herbal teas, all of excellent quality and flavor (but then, I’ve been a tea-drinker all my life, preferring it to coffee). They also have tea samplers, tumblers, mugs, teapots, and more. Tea Spot gift cards ($25, $50, $100, $200) are available if you are unsure about which teas your recipients might prefer.

Books

I’ve always been a huge lover of books so even when I have a migraine attack, I need to read. Books have always been an integral part of my self-care routine even before I understood the meaning of taking care of myself. Sometimes, migraine or other pain is so debilitating that the person cannot read. Other times, as when migraine becomes chronic (more than 15 days per month for at least 3 months) or intractable (never-ending), the pain, though quite severe, allows some reading. Some people with migraine have told me they cannot read e-books during a migraine but can manage traditional paper books. At times, I can read on my tablet, but I need to put it on Night (Dark) mode. When I have a hemiplegic migraine and cannot read or even lift my head from the pillow, I listen to audiobooks, which was a lifesaver in April 2018 when this intractable migraine began. There are several ways to provide books as gifts to recipients: paper books, e-books, and audiobooks.

Paper Books

So many books, so little time. I get most of my books from Amazon these days, if only because living up here on Big Rock Candy Mountain with the nearest bookstore about 2 hours away doesn’t allow much wandering the aisles and spending the day as if you were in a library (no libraries around here either). Also, as someone with intractable migraine for over 19 months and with neuropathic facial pain (formerly, atypical trigeminal neuralgia), I am mostly house-bound. I love being able to browse any category of books I wish without leaving home.

If you know the categories, authors, or specific titles your recipients might like, it’ll make your job easier when looking for books they might enjoy. If you don’t have specifics on authors or titles, you can always get them Amazon gift certificates: available as a physical card in a decorative box or tin ($50-$2,000, several designs), a card in a decorated mini-envelope ($10-$2,000, 3-5 designs), a card in greeting card with a separate envelope for mailing ($10 to $2,000, several designs), or as an e-gift card ($25-$2,000).

eBooks

10 years ago, if you’d asked me about e-books, I never would have imagined that they could have existed, let alone that I would like them. When we moved up here on the mountain in 2009, however, all my boxes of books had to stay in the barn: the house was simply too small to hold them all, and it took me years to save enough money to have some bookshelves built in my office. In the meantime, when I was desperate for something to read, I began to look at the classics, which were inaccessibly stored in the barn, in electronic book form. At that time, most of the classics were free in e-book form. Now virtually all books are available in both paper and e-book formats, and though I love paper books most, I love the convenience of e-books.

Your recipient can use an Amazon gift card for either paper or e-books, but you can also buy someone a subscription to Kindle Unlimited ($9.99/month) and they can read any book enrolled in the KU program. If you really want someone to gush with gratitude, you could buy them a Kindle ($69-249) — Amazon’s tablet — but that’s not necessary for them to enjoy e-books or to be in Kindle Unlimited. Kindle Reading Apps are free for any device: iOS, Android, Mac, PC. (It’s what I’ve used since about 2010, on my iPad, Mac, and iPhone).

Any Amazon gift cards can be used for e-books: card in a decorative box or tin ($50-$2,000), card in a decorated mini-envelope ($10-$2,000), card in greeting card with a separate envelope for mailing ($10 to $2,000), or e-gift card ($25-$2,000).

Audiobooks

Just as I never would have guessed that I would love e-books, I really never would have known that I would love audiobooks. And I never even listened to an audiobook before June of 2018, by which time I’d had an intractable migraine since April of that year and was bored witless. I couldn’t read — neither paper nor electronic books — so I tried the Audible 30-day free trial. I got a couple of my favorite classic books, each read by one of my favorite actors. While I lay on the couch (tired of lying in bed), I listened to the audiobooks. Before the end of the first couple chapters of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, I was hooked. Now I have a huge audiobook library, mostly classics, but some bestsellers and memoirs, too.

You can purchase gift cards for audiobooks directly from Audible (1, 3, 6, or 12 months for $15, $45, $90, or $150, respectively) or Audible via Amazon (same months and prices as at Audible). (Please note that Amazon gift cards are not eligible for use at Audible, and vice versa.)

Guided Meditation Apps to Reduce Pain

Surf City Apps and Relax Melodies

I’ve written several articles on the many free self-hypnosis meditation apps that successfully reduce migraine and chronic pain, and the links in this paragraph will take to those more detailed articles. I use Surf City Apps’ Migraine and Headache Relief, Chronic Pain Relief, and Sleep Well: Insomnia Relief (since both migraine and other types of chronic pain can cause painsomnia: pain-induced insomnia). I also use Relax Melodies, a guided meditation app which has a “background” feature which allows you to play its sounds “behind” other apps and which I use for the relief of both pain and insomnia.

Both Surf City Apps and Relax Melodies are available for iOS and Android devices. All these apps can be used for free, for an unlimited time. Download Sleep Well Insomnia Relief from Surf City Apps, from the App store for all iOS devices, from Amazon for Kindles, and from GooglePlay for Android devices. You can check out all Surf City’s free apps on its website. Their apps have been downloaded over 5 million times and average 4+ stars out of 5 for Sleep Well Insomnia Relief. Ipnos’ Relax Melodies app, available in 10 languages, has a 4.5 out of 5* rating (with 700,000 reviews).

Migraine & Headache Relief is free from Surf City Apps for iOS or Android devices, from Amazon for Kindle, from the App Store for iOS devices, or from GooglePlay for Android devices.

Chronic Pain Relief is free from Surf City Apps for iOS or Android devices, from Amazon for Kindle, from the App Store for iOS devices, and from GooglePlay for Android devices.

Sleep Well Insomnia Relief is free from Surf City Apps, from the App store for all iOS devices, from Amazon for Kindles, and from GooglePlay for Android devices.

Relax Melodies is free from Ipnos after selecting your type of smartphone, from Amazon for Kindle, from the App Store for iOS devices, and from Google Play for Android devices.

The Difference Between the Free and Premium Versions

Although all of these apps are available free, they’re worth purchasing the premium version. The difference between the free and the paid versions of these apps is the ability to change background noises and to Loop the meditation so that it repeats as often as the listener wishes (Surf City Apps) and to include additional guided meditations to reduce the stress and anxiety (Relax Melodies) that are often common in people with migraine and other chronic pain. The premium versions of Surf City Apps’ self-hypnosis guided meditations are $1.99-$4.99 depending on the meditation. Relax Melodies premium version is $4.99 for one month access to all its features or $27.99 for lifetime access.

If you know of a specific app that someone uses to reduce pain, anxiety, or insomnia, you could always purchase gift cards so they can buy the premium versions of these apps. For people with an iPad or an iPhone, you could get them an Apple App Store or iTunes gift card via Amazon (physical gift card in $25, $50, $100, $200 amounts; e-gift card for $25, $50, $100, $200). You can purchase a Google Play gift card via Amazon (physical gift card $50; e-gift card for $25, $50, $100, $200) for anyone with Android phones or tablets.

Additionally, all of these guided meditation apps to reduce pain and insomnia are also available via Amazon for its Kindles: any Amazon gift cards can be used for the premium version of these apps: card in a decorative box or tin ($50-$2,000), card in a decorated mini-envelope ($10-$2,000), card in greeting card with a separate envelope for mailing ($10 to $2,000), or e-gift card ($25-$2,000).

Health Journeys App, CDs, MP3s

Health Journeys, founded by holistic medicine advocate Belleruth Naparstek, sponsors a large library of guided meditations, with many of them devoted to pain relief and healing. I regularly use Naparstek’s Meditation to Ease Pain and Meditation to Help Relieve Headaches, the latter of which features a guided meditation for relief of headache pain as well as a meditation designed to help prevent future head pain. I list several of Health Journeys other pain relief apps in my Gifts article.

These audio guided meditations are available in MP3 or CD format ($11.98 or $17.98, respectively) and are also available to stream from Health Journeys app for Android and iOS, which features a 7-day free trial. Health Journeys also has other items for pain relief and healing, including guided meditations by Dr. Andrew Weil, one of the leaders in holistic medicine (CDs only), essential oils, books, pillows, lotions, etc. They also have gift cards ($15-$100) so that recipients can choose their own gifts. Health Journey’s catalogue is available online or by mail.

Remember to think “comfort” instead of “cure” when considering gifts for people with chronic pain and it’ll be easier for you to please people. Don’t have anyone to buy gifts for you? Then take care of yourself by getting at least one of these gifts, or those in my Gifts for People with Migraine or Other Chronic Pain (portable aromatherapy roll-ons and balms; all cotton heating/cold pads; and more details and meditations from Health Journeys, which  I’ve used almost 30 years, back when cassettes were the way to have portable audio). Whether you buy these gifts for others or for yourself, they’ll help reduce pain and comfort anyone suffering from migraine attacks or other chronic pain.


Related Posts on Migraine & Chronic Pain

For more of my articles on migraine or chronic pain,
see my Migraine & Chronic Pain page.

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Chronic Pain, and Insomnia Relief

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Filed under Atypical Trigeminal Neuralgia, Audiobooks, Books, Caregivers, chronic pain, Chronic Pain Treatment, E-books, healing, Health and Wellness, hemiplegic migraines, Meditation and MIndfulness, migraine, migraine self-care, Migraine Treatment, Migraine with Aura, Migraine Without Aura, migraines, Neuropathic Facial Pain, PTSD, Self-Hypnosis Apps, Self-Hypnosis Meditation Apps, trigeminal neuralgia, trigeminal neuropathy