Tag Archives: migraine self-care

The Alexandria Papers Newsletter #58


The Alexandria Papers Newsletter #58 | Dr. Alexandria Szeman | 13 November 2022

For the past two years — ever since Twitter bought it — I’ve been using Revue to make my weekly newsletters. Unfortunately, Twitter has decided to shut Revue down. So if you think the newsletter looks different this week, you’re right. I’m using a new app to create it.

No newsletter next week. 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.


The Transformative Effects of Mindful Self-Compassion – Mindful
Leading experts on mindful self-compassion Drs. Kristin Neff and Christopher Germer share how self-kindness, recognition of our humanity, and mindfulness give us the strength to thrive. An explosion of research into self-compassion over the last decade has shown its benefits for well-being.


Migraine: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Triggers, and More
More than just the cause of “really bad headaches,” migraine is a neurological condition that can cause multiple symptoms. While intense, debilitating headaches frequently characterize it, additional symptoms may include: The condition often runs in families and can affect all ages.
Can Epsom Salt Help Anxiety?
Magnesium sulfate bath crystals, more commonly known as Epsom salt, has been used medicinally to treat a wide range of conditions, including muscle aches and pain. In addition to these benefits, research has found that Epsom salt baths may be helpful for some individuals as a natural treatment for…

Trauma and Sexual Abuse

Grounding Techniques: Exercises for Anxiety, PTSD, & More
Grounding is a practice that can help you pull away from flashbacks, unwanted memories, and negative or challenging emotions. Grounding techniques are exercises that may help you refocus on the present moment to distract yourself from anxious feelings.
Recovering from Rape and Sexual Trauma – HelpGuide.org
Sexual violence is shockingly common in our society. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 1 in 5 women in the U.S. are raped or sexually assaulted at some point in their lives, often by someone they know and trust.

Mental Health

What Is an Existential Crisis?
An existential crisis is the feeling of unease people experience about meaning, choice, and freedom in life. This existential anxiety often causes people to feel that life is inherently pointless and that existence has no meaning. An existential crisis can also lead to feelings of confusion about…
Need Help Finding Mental Health Services? Start Here
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. Despite the stigma that surrounds conversations on mental health, many people have experienced mental health symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Five Magical Realist Novels with Murder Mysteries At Their Center
When I started writing my novel, The Storyteller’s Death, I didn’t plan on putting a murder mystery at its heart. In fact, if you had asked me when I’d first started in this craft if I’d ever write a murder mystery, I would have said, “Oh HELL no! They’re too hard.

Cooking and Baking

Which Superfoods Are Worth It?
We’ve got news for you: technically, there is no such thing as a “superfood.” That’s a term created by the food industry. Many of the so-called superfoods do deliver significant nutritional benefits, but beyond that, there’s nothing magical about them. They certainly don’t have the power to cure or…
Create Your Own Spice Blends, Based on the World’s Cuisine
Each culture is known for its particular use of spices and herbs and learning to make your own version of these blends is a great way to deepen your knowledge of different cuisines, as well as cooking.


My Books

Books by Alexandria Constantinova Szeman



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Gifts for People with Migraine or Other Chronic Pain

It’s not as difficult to buy gifts for someone with migraine or other chronic pain as some you might imagine. Think “comfort” instead of “cure” for neurological disorders and you’ll have a better time finding gifts that anyone would appreciate. After the onset of neuropathic facial pain (formerly called atypical trigeminal neuralgia) three years ago, and an intractable migraine that’s lasted almost 20 months, I’ve been looking for additional products that might bring me comfort or help relieve the pain. I’ve found several that have become my constant companions, so to speak. Here are my favorite products to relieve pain and comfort someone with migraine or other chronic pain.

Essential Oil Aromatherapy Roll-Ons

Essential oil aromatherapy roll-ons, which come in a variety of scents, are portable, cost only about $10-13 each, and have been a life-saving product for me the last several months. My favorites are Migrastil Migraine Stick (therapeutic grade spearmint, peppermint, and lavender essential oils in a base of fractionated coconut oil), Aromata’s Headache Be Gone (lavender, peppermint, and wild-grown frankincense essential oils in almond oil), and Lavender Calm (organic essential oil of lavender in almond oil).

Some people may have sensitivities to lavender, so they might like the lavender-free Prime Natural Headache Relief (peppermint, Spanish sage, cardamom, ginger, and fennel essential oils in grapeseed oil). I like these roll-ons so much that I bought a second set to carry in my purse (the Aromata brands come in a small bag, so I store a few roll-ons in one of those pretty bags and toss it into my purse.) I swipe the essential oil roll-ons along the trigeminal nerve, from my temples to the spot in front of my ear, on both sides of my head (even though I only have pain on one side), on both sides of my collarbone, on the back of my neck down the center and on the back of the neck from the center outward at the hairline. These roll-ons immediately reduce pain, and though the scents only last about half an hour, they are not overpowering.

Essential Oil Aromatherapy Balms

Since someone else wearing perfume or other odorous products can trigger attacks, I try to be extremely conscientious with fragrances in public spaces, even if the fragrances are therapeutic ones. For people who need more subtle or short-lasting essential oil aromatherapy products, I recommend Badger Balm’s Headache Soother and Stress Soother, which are under $10 for a single balm or under $15 for a two-pack.

Headache Soother contains the following certified organic ingredients: Extra Virgn Olive Fruit Oil, Beeswax, Castor Seed Oil, Lavender Flower Oil, Menthol, Peppermint Leaf Oil, Sunflower Vitamin E, Eucalyptus Leaf Oil, Mandarin Peel  Oil, Sandalwood Oil, Calendula Flower Extract, Rosehip Fruid Extract.
Stress Soother contains the following certified organic ingredients: Extra Virgin Olive Fruit Oil,  Beeswax, Tangerine Peel Oil, Lavender Flower Oil, Rosemary Leaf Oil, Cedar Wood Oil, Sunflower Vitamin E Oil, Spearmint Leaf Oil, Damascene Rose Flower Oil, Calendula Flower Extract, Rosehip Fruit Extract, Roman Chamomile Flower Oil.

Since Badger Balms have more ingredients than any of the roll-ons listed above, I was initially hesitant to try these pain relief products. However, I’d used Badger’s Muscle Balm with great success, so I decided to try some of their other Soothers, which are more portable than their balms in a tin and don’t require you to dip your fingers into the balm to apply it to your skin.

All of these essential oil aromatherapy products, roll-ons and balm sticks, are portable and can be applied directly to the skin (barring absence of any allergies to the individual ingredients). Because these products contain essential oils, already diluted for application to the skin, and because they are portable, they would be weelcome additions to any chronic pain or migraine warrior’s self-care bag.

Heating & Cooling Sacks

SacksyThyme All Natural Premium Herbal Heating and Cooling Sacks are filled with organic flaxseed, or a combination of organic flaxseed and cherry pits, in a woven 100% cotton cover, and cost $30-40 each. The Sack can be put in the microwave for 90 seconds for warmth, misted with a little water before heating for moist heat, or placed in a sealed plastic bag in the freezer for 2 hours for chilled relief (and then stored in the sealed bag in freezer for instant comfort). I bought a Medium Unscented (13″ x 7.5″) one, which has no odor at all from the cloth or the filling; they also have an XL Unscented (16″ x 13″), covered with woven cotton on one side and cotton fleece on the other. The Sack comes in various sizes (L is 22″ x 7.5″), colors (blue, green, black, grey, etc), and prints (paisley, houndstooooth, plaid, leaves, bubbles, etc.). SacksyThyme also offers the same organic flaxseed or cherry pit filling with a proprietary blend of essential oils (lavender, cherry, eucalyptus, and lemon verbena). SacksyThyme makes an Unscented XLong Neck Wrap, filled with organic flaxseed, that can be heated in the microwave and won’t fall off your neck (22″ x 6″, and available in charcoal, hot pink, or dark red).

All SacksyThyme’s heating/cooling pads come with a one-year warranty.

Guided Meditations & Self-Hypnosis

Guided Meditations or Self-Hypnosis can reduce pain, and I’m a big fan of Belleruth Naparstek and have used her guided meditations since the early 90s (when they came on cassette tapes only). I regularly use her Meditation to Ease Pain and Meditation to Help Relieve Headaches, which features a guided meditation for relief of headache pain as well as a meditation designed to help prevent future head pain. Health Journeys has guided meditations specifically for the pain from TMJ, and Naparstek, one of the founders of Health Journeys, has meditations for traumatic brain injury, migraine, to increase healthful sleep, to promote general wellness, and more. 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. Though I still have the original cassettes with these guided mediations, I prefer the MP3 versions since I was able to make a playlist out of all the Belleruth Naparstek guided meditations: I put the volume on Low, put in my wireless earphones, and play the meditations on Repeat all day long to relieve pain.

Health Journeys sponsors a large library of guided meditations, with many of them devoted to pain relief and healing. 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. Health Journeys has gift cards ($15-$100) so that recipients can choose their own gifts. Health Journey’s catalogue is available online or by mail. If you or your give receipients have any questions about Health Journey’s Guided Meditations or other products, founder Belleruth Naparstek is available via email to answer questions.

It doesn’t take a great deal of money to comfort people with chronic pain and migraine. Most of us have to spend a great deal of time at home, and virtually all of us with migraine or other chronic pain have to invest a great deal of time taking care of themselves. Gifts developed specifically for people with chronic pain make holiday gift-buying easier. Everyone with migraine or other chronic pain will appreciate receiving gifts that will help with their self-care.

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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Filed under Atypical Trigeminal Neuralgia, Caregivers, chronic pain, Chronic Pain Treatment, healing, health, Health and Wellness, hemiplegic migraines, Meditation and MIndfulness, migraine, migraine self-care, Migraine Treatment, Migraine with Aura, Migraine Without Aura, migraines, Panic Attacks, Panic Disorder, PTSD, Self-Hypnosis Apps, Self-Hypnosis Meditation Apps, trigeminal neuralgia, trigeminal neuropathy