Christmas is just a few weeks away and you might be wondering what gifts you would like to leave under the Christmas tree for those you love. In our view, gifts that support good mental health are the best kinds. Here are 10 gift ideas to inspire you – and the best part is, most of them are budget friendly.
1. Exercise and fitness equipment
Physical and mental health are interwoven. Moving our bodies regularly enables the release of feel-good chemicals such as endorphin and serotonin, which in turn supports better mental health. Gifts that encourage exercise such as a yoga mat, dumbbells, resistance bands or a skipping rope can be inexpensive but powerful ways to get people moving in the comfort of their own homes.
2. A notebook
A simple notebook can be used as a journal or gratitude journal. Keeping a journal is cited as a good way to keep track of goals, manage stress and anxiety and strengthen memory. Gratitude journals support the practice of gratitude, which can help people to experience increased happiness and a myriad of health and relational benefits.
3. Natural pain relievers
Aches and pains in the body can negatively affect your mental health, but it isn’t always necessary to reach for medication to alleviate pain. Natural pain relievers such as heat packs, massage balls, foam rollers and magnesium oils or creams are excellent ways to ease tension and pain in the body, particularly during times of stress.
The gift of a plant – whether it is one to nurture inside or to make at home in a garden – encourages the recipient to connect with nature. Studies show that people who do this experience greater positivity, hopefulness and relaxation.
5. Colouring books
Colouring in isn’t just for kids – adults can reap the benefits of colouring too! Colouring mandalas are a form of art therapy that can help reduce stress and anxiety, increase focus and encourage creativity.
6. Bath salts or soaks
There is a reason taking a long, warm bath is a classic way to unwind. Warm baths help strengthen and balance your circadian rhythm, which enhances sleep quality. When you sleep better, you feel better. Bath salts or soaks infused with essential oils like lavender, neroli, ylang ylang and frankincense will add an extra dimension of relaxation.
7. An experience gift card
Social connection is essential for good mental health. Experience gift cards can give someone you care about a fun and exciting opportunity to connect with others and/or try something new. Think things like animal experiences, water sports, escape rooms, or tickets to a show.
8. Weighted blankets
Weighted blankets are designed to be heavier than normal blankets to create a sense of calm and security in the same way a swaddle soothes a newborn. They use deep pressure stimulation which can help stimulate the production of the mood-boosting hormone serotonin, reduce the stress hormone cortisol, and increase levels of the sleep hormone melatonin. This may help improve overall sleep quality and ease stress and anxiety.
Did you know that puzzles can help to slow the progression of conditions such as dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and bipolar disorder? Visual puzzles such as jigsaw puzzles have also shown to induce a sense of calm and relaxation and can be used as a tool to enhance mindfulness.
10. A memory or positivity jar
Memory or positivity jars are a beautiful and economical way to let someone know you care. They can also be a lovely gift to make for yourself. A memory jar is a vessel (such as an empty vase or jam jar) filled with notes and photos documenting happy memories to reflect on. A positivity jar is similar but filled with a collection of photos and notes documenting inspirational quotes, goals and aspirations, and nice things people have done or said to remind us of the good things in life. Both jars are wonderful tools to remind the recipient of their strengths and to feel positive and connected.