The holiday season can be a source of anxiety for many people. For others, anxiety is a year-round challenge. If you're looking for gifts that can help alleviate anxiety, here's a guide to help you kick off your shopping — and hopefully help a loved one feel calmer and more relaxed in the process.
1. Aromatherapy Candles
Fragrances can trigger moods and even memories. For example, if your grandmother was famous for her apple pie, the scent of apples might make you feel calm and peaceful.
As it turns out, there’s a scientific reason for this. According to one aromatherapy expert, scent molecules actually fit inside receptors within the brain, which can prompt the brain to release certain chemicals.
Furthermore, specific scents are good for reducing anxiety. One study showed that bitter orange may help lower anxiety in people preparing to undergo surgery. Another study found a link between vetiver grass (found in beeswax candles) and improved brain patterns in children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
2. A Self-care Basket
Self-care is more than just drinking enough water or taking your vitamins. Psychologists describe it as “any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health.”
Self-care is personal, which means it might look different from one person to the next. For some people, practicing good self-care means taking a daily walk after work. For others, it’s going to a hair salon once a month.
If you know someone who suffers with anxiety, you could try making them a self-care basket. You can check out Pinterest for some ideas for what to include in your basket, box or kit. The items don’t have to be fancy or expensive — what matters is that you put thought into it and choose things designed to help your friend or loved one feel special.
3. Fidget Tools
Fidget tools aren’t just for kids. According to Arline Kaplan at Psychiatric Times, anxiety disorders and ADHD often occur together. If someone has ADHD, there’s a significant likelihood they also suffer with some type of anxiety.
If you know someone who deals with restless energy or has difficulty concentrating or staying on task, a fidget tool could be a great holiday gift idea. Fidgets come in all shapes and sizes, from fidget cubes to bean bags.
4. An Assortment of Soothing Teas
When you think about it, even the act of brewing and sipping tea encourages you to slow down and relax. Tea is something you’re meant to consume at a leisurely pace — not in gulps.
According to research, many teas also help reduce anxiety. A 2016 study found that chamomile tea can help lower anxiety levels. In a separate study, people who drank valerian root tea experienced less anxiety. Additionally, lavender tea may also help people feel calmer and less anxious.
5. Cuddly Plush Toys
Many children develop a strong connection to a favorite blanket or toy. In one study, psychologist Richard Passman found that 60 percent of kids form an attachment to a toy, blanket or pacifier.
And while many children eventually outgrow their attachment, plenty of people carry these treasured items into adulthood. In a survey of 6,000 adults, a hotel chain found that 35 percent of those surveyed said they slept with a stuffed animal.
Weighted plush toys may increase comfort and help reduce anxiety. Research has shown that weighted blankets reduce insomnia and “produce a relaxing and calming effect” for conditions like autism and ADHD.
As researchers note, “Applying deep pressure has been shown to be beneficial for children with high levels of anxiety or arousal and deep pressure touch may also alleviate anxiety. There are also anecdotal reports suggesting that the elderly who suffer from anxiety and dementia may find relief from deep pressure touch…”
6. Handwritten Notes
If your budget is tight this year, a handwritten note can make for a deeply personal gift your friend or loved one will cherish. As John Coleman at the Harvard Business Review points out, handwritten notes are an increasingly rare commodity. In 1987, the U.S. Postal Service said the average household received a personal letter every two weeks. In 2010, the frequency had dropped to once every seven weeks.
These days, getting a personal, handwritten note or card in the mail feels a little like discovering a diamond. It’s easy to send an email or a text. Sitting down and committing your thoughts to paper requires time, patience and an investment in the recipient.
If you won the good penmanship award in elementary school, this is your time to shine. If you’re crafty, you can even turn your personal note into a mini work of art by finding inspirational or encouraging quotes online and reproducing them on high-quality paper. You might be surprised how much your note means to someone with anxiety.
7. Dark Chocolate
If you ask us, any excuse for chocolate is a good one. While you might think of chocolate as an indulgence or something you should only enjoy on your cheat day, science says chocolate can actually be good for you.
In a study, researchers found that people who consumed 40 grams of dark chocolate once a day for two weeks had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Studies have also linked dark chocolate to higher levels of serotonin, the “feel good” chemical in the brain.
8. Cozy Socks or Slippers
When the weather outside is frightful, a pair of cozy socks or comfy slippers may help people with anxiety feel calmer and more relaxed. Because anxiety activates the “fight or flight” response in the brain, it causes the body to produce the cortisol. This can direct blood flow away from the hands and feet. This might be why you hear a nervous person described as “getting cold feet.”
When someone is very anxious, the fight or flight response can last for up to 20 minutes. Wearing soft, comfortable socks or slippers may help them feel better faster.
9. Essential Oils
Essential oils have made a big splash in recent years, and for good reason. People have discovered how beneficial they can be for a variety of health issues, including anxiety. There are a number of essential oils linked to reduced anxiety.
For example, one study found that jasmine oil has antidepressant and antibacterial properties. Researchers have also found that lavender helps lower the heart rate in people with anxiety. Studies have also found that ylang ylang oil helps reduce nerves and boost mood.
10. A Weighted Blanket
For years, occupational therapists and other health professionals have used deep pressure touch stimulation therapy to help people with anxiety. This therapy consists of firm but gentle pressure applied to the body, which has been shown to ease insomnia and reduce anxiety.
Because you can’t take your therapist home with you, a weighted blanket may help you get the benefits of deep pressure touch therapy anytime you want. At SensaCalm, our weighted blankets are made with 100% hypoallergenic and non-toxic materials. We also include optional cuddle fabric for extra sensory input.
SensaCalm Weighted Blankets
Anxiety affects 18 percent of the population. If you have anxiety, or you know someone who does, a weighted blanket can be a wonderful gift. Start your custom weighted blanket order today, or choose from our wide selection of ready-to-ship finished weighted blankets, which ship the next business day after your order.
If you have questions about weighted blankets or how to order, give us a call at 855-736-7222. You can also use our contact form and one of our experienced team members will be in touch.
Disclaimer: The content on this website is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. Talk to your doctor or healthcare provider before undertaking any type of therapy or treatment.