9 Great Gifts for Mental Health

 9 Great Gift Ideas for Mental Health - Gift Guide
Photo by Marko Klaric

The days are getting much shorter and colder (this morning there was snow on the ground and somehow, every year, I’m shocked the first time it happens). You know what that means; we’re officially in the midst of the holiday chaos. While holidays are usually thought of as joyous times, for people who are struggling, they can actually compound feelings of loneliness and sadness. Add on all of the expectations that tend to fill our minds and calendars, and these days can even stress the most well balanced and put together of us.

Whether or not you or your loved ones are dealing with a mental illness such as depression or anxiety, it's entirely possible to come up with great and thoughtful gifts that can support our mental wellness, even if just a bit.

I created this list of gift ideas to be all about taking care of and supporting ourselves and others.  These don’t require a holiday or special occasion to give, but because gift giving is so ingrained into this time of year, it seemed like the perfect time to pull them together. The guide includes products that I genuinely use and recommend, as someone who struggles with managing my mental health, and is almost entirely under $100, with plenty of ideas in the $5-30 range, but the best and most important item at the end of the list, number 9, doesn’t cost a cent.

**If you follow an affiliate link and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. It does not cost you anything but contributes to my mission of continuing to sharing art and resources that help to destigmatize women’s mental illness. See the full disclosure here.**

Art Supplies and Projects

Art project kit

You KNOW as an artist I have to start here. But you don’t have to be an artist to enjoy the mental health benefits of making art. There’s science to show that drawing, painting, coloring, or other types of art-ing are great for stress and can have a meditative quality in promoting calmness. It can also be a great way to work through difficult emotions. (Ahem, I might have some serious experience there.)

Coloring supplies - Coloring books with colored pencils or markers make a low barrier to being able to get lost in an artistic endeavor, and there's a coloring book for every aesthetic and interest.  

Art Nouveau Coloring Book Swear-y Coloring Book 

For something pretty and decorative try the Art Nouveau Coloring Book, or for something a little cheeky, there's the 50 Shades of Bullsh*t Coloring Book.

Posca Coloring Pencils  Chromatek Set of 54 Watercolor Pens

Set of 36 Coloring Pencils by Posca, or a set of 54 Watercolor Brush Pens with Testing Pad and Blenders are perfect for getting someone going with coloring or drawing.

Drawing, doodling, or journaling supplies - If somebody likes to journal, doodle, or draw, a tactile and beautiful sketch book or journal can make it a particularly satisfying ritual. A lovely set of colored pencils or markers for the drawer, or a splurge-y pen also elevates the experience and makes it feel special.

Floral Parchment Journal Smooth writing vintage colored pens 

    This gilded journal is designed to replicate 18th century tooled book binding with 160 lightly lined pages.  These gel ink pens are soft to hold and write smoothly, and their vintage colors would complement the beautifully bound journal perfectly.

    Painting or crafting kits - If somebody is especially artsy, a kit to try a new kind of creativity can make for a special self care session. Basic painting kits with all the basics to get started, a modern paint by number set, or a beginners kit to crochet an adorable little critter are great ideas. Knitting, especially, can have a very meditative quality to the movements with the added bonus of making something beautiful to enjoy.

    Modern Paint by Number kit  Watercolor Set

    There are plenty of paint-by-numbers kits available now that aren't your grandmothers' dreary deer-by-a-creek paint-by-numbers, like this gorgeous fiery sunset.  If you're shopping for someone who likes to do their own thing, a set of 48 watercolor paints in a decorative tin complete with brushes and some watercolor paper has everything needed to sit down and paint.

    Narwhal Crochet Kit  Knitting Kit for Beginners

    Kits that have everything to need to learn to knit or crochet a project, like this The Woobles Narwhal crochet kit or this gloves, hat, and scarf Knitting for Beginners kit, beginning to end are a great gift for people who like to create something tangible while unwinding.  

     

    A Weighted Blanket

    An Attractive and Breathable Woven Weighted Blanket in Ivory

    Weighted blankets may help somebody who struggles with anxiety or insomnia. It’s like a full body hug without the awkwardness.

    For years I was weighted-blanket-curious before I finally decided to take the leap. But that was because I was very particular about what would work. My criteria for getting a weighted blanket for myself were 3 fold; it has to look good, be breathable, and easy to care for and clean.

     I like the chunky knit style of this weighted blanket by YesCool, and that it comes in multiple colors and sizes.

    (The one in the photo above is white, but I chose this orange one because I've got to have all the color).

    Orange Weighted Blanket

    Since I sleep hot, it HAS to be able to breathe. If it makes me sweat, I’m never going to use it.  I use this blanket with a lighter sheet or blanket underneath it and I’ve not had a sweaty night in it yet.

    Many comforter style weighted blankets use glass beads for the weight, so they can’t go in the washer and require a duvet cover.  This one can go right in the washer.

      If you’re picking out a weighted blanket for yourself or somebody else, it’s recommended to go approximately 10% of your body weight, and round down to the closest weight in available blankets. They tend to most frequently come in 5, 10, 12, 15, and 20 lb sizes.

        I could use mine as a throw blanket, but I’ve mostly been using it at night time. It did take a couple of nights to get used to it, but what I’ve noticed is that I fall asleep faster and seem to sleep deeper. The weight of the blanket has a swaddling effect without feeling too constricting. And a bonus, at least for me, my cat loves to sleep on it and cuddle up to me when I use it.

        Affirmations that are a Delight, not Woo-Woo

        Affirmators! Deluxe Edition Card Deck with Box

        As somebody who forever resisted trying affirmations because they seemed to ‘woo,’ I’ve finally caved in to them because, dammitall, they work. For me, the trick was having affirmations that didn’t make my eyes roll out of my head for being to trite or hallmark-y.

        Having a fun deck with affirmations I can get behind and cute illustrations makes it easy, not just in having to come up with the affirmations, but to remember to use them! (I keep them on my bedside table.) This Affirmators! Deluxe deck is beautiful, even the box it comes in is gorgeous, and the affirmations themselves are both silly and powerful.

        Created by comedian Suzi Barret and illustrated by Naomi Sloman, this deck self professes to help you help yourself without the self-helpy-ness.  

        A Guided Breathing Lamp

        A Cute Lamp for Guided Breathing

        We know that breathing and/or meditating is a great tool for managing stress and building a healthier level of mindfulness. But as somebody who gets very easily distracted, a visual cue to follow with my breath helps me to put aside even a few minutes every day to get a little centered.

        This adorable little silicone Mindsight Peaceful Pebble lamp (also available as a little Buddha) and will walk you through 5/5 or 4/7/8 breathing cycles with a green light getting gently brighter as you inhale, purple to hold (for 4/7/8), then a blue light dimming slowly for your exhale. It will fit about anywhere, can be dimmed or brightened by tapping it on the table, and charges with a USB cable.

          Tasty Herbal Teas with Benefits

          Herbal Super Adapt Tea varieties by the Republic of Tea

          If you know me, you know I love my morning coffee. But there are times of the day that I don’t necessarily want the caffeine but I still crave a warm cup of something. I’m finding that making a cup of a nice tea, even before drinking it, can be a bit of a soothing ritual. And I’ve been experimenting several different herbal teas for both taste and other benefits. My favorite teas right now are the organic and herbal Super Adapt Teas from The Republic of Tea that include adaptogens.

          Adaptogens are plants and mushrooms that are purported to help our body’s stress responses and balance out energy levels. (Because they are supplements, no claims that anyone makes about adaptogens have been backed by the FDA.  Some studies look good, but there isn’t enough research available yet.)

          I’m currently enjoying the Burnout Blocker tea with cinnamon, ginger, chicory, and dates, with chaga and cordycep mushrooms. It’s deliciously cinnamon-y without the heat that often comes with strong cinnamon. (I also like a splash of my store-brand organic soy milk in my cup.  So fancy.)

            Heating Pad (No, Seriously.)

            Blue soft extra large heading pad

            This one is simple and maybe a little old school, (and admittedly, rocks a little bit of an old lady vibe) but let me tell you, I use my heating pad ALL THE TIME. Especially in cooler weather. The warmth is relaxing and good for healing. It’s a pleasant way to take a minute to take care of aches and pains, wether it’s tension based sore muscles, period cramps and pains, or just warming through cold hands or feet at the end of the long day.

            I have chronic migraines and tend to carry a lot of tension in my neck and shoulders, and it can be a life saver when I need to unwind. This is the same heating pad that I've owned for years and it still works perfectly, with multiple heat settings and the flexibility and size to wrap around your arm, lay over your lap, or just drape it over your shoulders.  In fact, I think I might go get mine right now...

              Masterpiece in Progress

              A Colorful brain as a paint pallet with brushes that says, Masterpiece in Progress

              Masterpiece in Progress is a design of my own meant to be a reminder that we are beautiful and worthwhile as we work our way through this journey of life. We are always growing and learning, and always developing the beautiful canvas that is our mind.

              This design is available on stickers, mugs, notebooks, and shirts.

                Gift Cards or Certificates for Living

                A gift certificate for a service that would genuinely assist in someone’s ability to do and be their best goes far beyond the generic last minute drug store gift card.  This is probably best for somebody that you know well so that you know what they actually need and would use. 

                Here are a few ideas:

                • Meal delivery services or a local house cleaning service for the overwhelmed.
                • Massage gift cards for the stressed.
                • Streaming or audio book subscriptions for one who loves a bit of escapism.
                • A nice hair cut or spa service for somebody that never takes time for themselves.
                  Just identifying where your loved one is struggling and finding a way to help them fill in the gaps can be a priceless gift.

                    My Personal Favorite (and FREE), the Gift of TIME

                    Two women having coffee together
                    Photo by Priscilla Du Preez 🇨🇦 on Unsplash

                    For somebody that’s really struggling, this can be the most important kind of support you can offer. Based on what you know you can manage on your calendar in a healthy way, schedule a regular check-in. This could be a weekly or monthly phone call or face-chat, or a standing coffee date in-person to genuinely connect and see how your friend or loved one is doing. The trick is to have it on the calendar as a reoccurring event.

                    Connecting with people is so important for all of our mental health, whether someone deals with a mental illness such as anxiety or depression, or not.

                    Depending on your persons needs, perhaps the time that would mean the most is in the form of help to accomplish something. Put aside a few days to help with home organization, driving them to appointments, yard work projects, or wherever there may be an overlap in their needs and your strengths. 

                    What’s Great About Gifting

                    And last but not least, if you’re looking to give a gift that’s good for your mental health, volunteer! It’s genuinely good for you. Research measuring brain activity shows that it actually makes you happy. It also connects you with other people, is great for your resume, and can help you to learn new skills.

                    Volunteering can be a really wonderful way to give.  Not only are you doing good, but it provides an opportunity for connections. Even further, you can have a chance to learn and develop new skills. You can check on Volunteer Match for opportunities near you.

                    Or if time is not something you have available to give, there are many great causes that could use financial support in any form. One great organization that I can recommend is To Write Love on Her Arms, which supports people struggling with depression, addiction, self-harm, and suicide with resources and education, and also invests directly into treatment and recovery.

                    Happy gifting everyone, and remember to take care of yourself.

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