Whether you are shopping for yourself, your friends, or your family, these self-care themed gifts are perfect for just about everyone. Surveys show that Americans are beginning to value mental health as much as they value physical health1, so what could make for a better gift than something to help a friend or loved one relax and de-stress? 

For the friend whose response to, “How are you?” is always, “Tired

Weighted blanket: Do you or a loved one have trouble sleeping? When you lay down in bed at night, is your mind racing? Are you tossing and turning? If you or someone you know has already turned to soothing teas, scented lotions, and even melatonin, but seen no results, you may want to consider a weighted blanket. Weighted blankets create a swaddling effect—yes, the same swaddling that comforts newborns—that serves to calm a restless mind and body. Studies have also shown that weighted items can have soothing effects for children with ADHD and autism.2 They are a bit pricey, clocking in around $200, but considering how important sleep is for mental health and overall wellbeing, the investment will be worth it. Check out the popular brand Rocabi here.

For the friend who has trouble keeping in touch

Cards! Many people struggling with mental health challenges deal with it by withdrawing. So if you’re wondering why you don’t receive speedy responses to your texts or emails, that may be why. When the texts and email are neglected the pile up can add extra anxiety for your loved one as well. Ease their burden with a set of cards or stationery created by an artist who became familiar with the feeling of isolation when she was fighting cancer and her friends and loved ones didn’t know what to say and opted to say nothing instead. For some, connecting to loved ones by writing cards can be therapeutic and have similar benefits to journaling,3 including reducing stress, lowering blood pressure and slowing the heart rate. We love  these cards from Emily McDowell  who has a knack for using humor and wit navigate the awkward  and always seems to know what to say!

For the stressed-out friend that can’t stop guzzling caffeine

Tea! Tea is universally pleasing gift, and relatively inexpensive. The brand Traditional Medicinals makes quality tea and explains the “herbal power” of each blend, ranging from “Cup of Calm,” perfect for the anxious person in your life, to “Gypsy Cold Care,” helpful for the friend who seems to always catch the sniffles in the winter. The brand also carries multiple teas intended for soothing stomach and digestive issues. If someone in your life is dealing with digestive problems, like IBS, it’s likely apparent that their stomach problems result in serious stress and sometimes even social anxiety. Certain types of tea can help soothe these stomach woes.

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For the book-lover

  • The teen book-lover: Best-selling YA author John Green’s most recent novel, TurtlesAll the Way Down, centers on a 16-year-old protagonist who is figuring out how to cope with OCD while also dealing with all the typical struggles of simply being a teenager.
  • For the sober book-lover: Leslie Jamison’s The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath hasbeen hailed as an extraordinarily accurate portrayal of what it is like to be an addict, and what it is like to recover. Jamison takes it a step further than the typical memoir by also exploring what author Roxane Gay labels, “the sociopolitical implications of addiction,” as well as discussing the famous writers before her whose addictive drinking habits often receive a contorted form of praise.
  • For just about everybody: Emotional First-Aid: Practical Strategies for Treating Failure, Rejection, Guilt, and Other Everyday Psychological Injuries by Guy Winch, PhD is a must-read. Everyone is quick to respond to physical injuries, whether it be a paper cut or a brokenarm, with attention and care, sowhy don’t we respond to emotional injuries with the same sensitivity and consideration, Dr. Winch asks. He goes on to explore this concept of emotional first-aid and how you can build the resources you need to recover from emotional injuries in healthy ways.

For the friend with new year resolutions

Cookbooks: Right around the corner from Christmas is the new year. New Year resolutions tend to be full of hopes of eating healthier and saving money. Nowadays, plenty of people are also aiming to spend less time on their phones or on the internet. Good old fashioned cookbooks solve ALL of these problems by making people excited to spend a bit of time in the kitchen. Find the one with the prettiest photos you can for extra inspiration! One we love, The Happiness Diet: Good Mood Food by Rachel Kelly. Kelly reveals foods that can improve mood, help battle insomnia, and decrease mood swings. Because, if you didn’t already know, what you eat doesn’t just affect weight, it affects your mood

For the friend with the sensitive nose

There’s an aromatherapy renaissance going on, and for good reason. Some studies suggest that aromatherapy can reduce depressive symptoms.4 Suggested benefits also include improved sleep, reduced anxiety, and even decreased amounts of pain, such as osteoarthritis. And besides who doesn’t like to walk into a room that smells fresh? Buying someone a scent diffuser beats picking a candle with a scent your loved one might not like. Instead, pair the diffuser, which can be found at a variety of price points  (this one at Target is $14.99), with a gift card to a vendor who sells essential oils, like Plant Therapy. Check out another type of aromatherapy device—this one’s made with a cool mist humidifier—along with several other gift ideas for people who live with chronic pain at Practical Pain Management. (Some oils lend themselves to particular pain conditions believe it or not.)

For everyone

Cleaning Supplies: Like socks, cleaning supplies are necessary. So why don’t people gift each other Lysol Wipes, Swiffer Pads, counter spray and laundry detergent the same way we gift socks? They might not make for the most romantic gift, but the truth is that cleaning supplies can help relieve stress and anxiety in multiples ways. Firstly, cleaning supplies are necessary, but they can be expensive or easy to forget, especially for young adults living on their own for the first time or college students more focused on studies than adding dust bunny removal supplies to their grocery list. Secondly, having a clean and organized home can improve aspects of emotional mental health ranging from mood to ability to sleep. A 2009 study found that when people, especially women, view their homes as stressful due to clutter and general lack of cleanliness, they are more likely to experience stressful cortisol swings as well as higher rates of depressed mood.5 Who knew sink scrub could help a friend declutter their home and their mind? We’re fans of these natural cleaning products from Better Life.

A word about over spending 

As everyone can attest, the holidays can be stressful—they’re full of hectic travel, dealing with family members who make you feel uncomfortable, and often, too much food. Another major contributor to holiday stress is the cost of the season. While gift giving is a lovely gesture and it can feel great to gift your loved ones with the perfect present, if those gifts are coming at the cost of your mental health, they’re likely not worth it.

Alleviate pressure on yourself and your loved ones by suggesting a Secret Santa with a minimal budget (it can be interesting to see what people pull together with just $5!). If you have a big family, hosting a gift exchange where you are ONLY responsible for buying one person a gift can be seriously relieving. On top of that, watching loved ones open gifts and trying to guess who bought whose present is fun! Drawnames.com is a super simple, and free, way to get your friends and family signed up for a gift exchange.

And remember, the best gift of all for people struggling with mental illness is the gift of your patient, kind-hearted self. With the constant emphasis on merry making, the holidays can be a painful reminder of their unhappiness so don’t delay. Reach out to your loved one today.

We hope this gift guide fills you with the holiday spirit!

 

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Last Updated: Dec 4, 2018