7 Mood-Boosting Gifts

Thoughtful Ideas for Loved Ones Dealing With Depression

gift ideas for someone with depression

Verywell / Laura Porter

When someone you care about is struggling with a mood disorder such as depression or is facing stress or anxiety, the holidays or any other gift-giving occasion can be a great opportunity. You can offer not only your support, but also a tangible item to help that person cope. These gift ideas have some science to back up their spirit-lifting potential but also make lovely, loving gifts.


Gift Certificate for a Massage

Person receiving arm massage

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There's no question a rubdown can work wonders for muscle kinks, but research shows the beneficial effects of massage don't stop there. A massage lasting 20 to 30 minutes can lower levels of cortisol, the brain chemical that's released in response to stress. Another study found that levels of serotonin, a brain chemical that helps alleviate pain, increased by 28% after a massage.

In a study of teen athletes, those who had regular massage therapy sessions experienced significant decreases in levels of depression, anxiety, and stress. Since there are many types of massage, make sure you purchase a gift certificate for one that focuses on relaxation and stress relief (rather than, say, deep-tissue massage).


Inviting Journal

Journal with pen resting on table

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A blank book with an inviting cover can be a perfect uplifting gift. Journaling is a technique sometimes used by therapists to help patients organize their thoughts and work through issues they may be ruminating about. Some journals come with writing prompts or inspirational quotes, which might offer another incentive to put pen to paper.

One study found that people who engaged in expressive writing, which focuses on writing about your deepest thoughts and feelings related to emotional events, showed immediate and significant decreases in scores of depression. These benefits were still present four weeks later, suggesting that the beneficial impact may be lasting.


Essential Oils and Diffuser

Oil diffuser on table with various succulents

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Certain scents seem to have a positive impact on mood, and there's been a good deal of research looking at the value of aromatherapy as part of a treatment protocol for depression.

Lavender, in particular, has been lauded for its feel-good effects.A gift of high-quality essential oils and an attractive diffuser could make a gift that's both lovely to look at and relaxing to use.


Subscription to a Meditation App

Woman meditating wearing headphones

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There's growing evidence that mindfulness meditation can help relieve depression. Sitting quietly and being in the moment can be inherently relaxing and helpful for managing feelings of stress and anxiety.

Research has found that meditation actually can bring about physical changes in the brain in areas associated with stress and sense of self—in as little as eight weeks.

There are lots of guided meditations to choose from. Apps like Headspace, Calm, and Shine offer gift subscriptions. So, consider giving the gift of meditation to a loved one.



Woman strolling through the woods

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Exposure to nature—such as a walk in the woods, a stroll along the beach, a visit to a botanical garden, or digging in the yard—can have a profound effect on mood. Even having potted plants around the house or workspace has been found to improve well-being, lower blood pressure, increase productivity, and more.

Green plants that make good gifts include golden pothos, arrowhead vine, Chinese evergreen, dracaena, philodendron, snake plant, peace lily, and vinca vine.


Gift Certificate for Yoga Classes

Women in yoga class

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There's ample evidence that doing yoga can lower stress and anxiety. Since there are so many types of yoga, do a little research before giving classes to someone, especially if you know they are new to the practice. Find a studio with a good beginner's or basic class, or one that offers restorative yoga—a form of yoga that focuses solely on putting the body into fully relaxed poses. 


Furry Friend

Woman walking bulldog

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Pets offer an array of mood-modulating benefits: Walking a dog gets you outdoors and forces you to be active, and simply cuddling or petting an animal of any type can lower blood pressure, ease anxiety, and soothe depression.

Before giving someone an animal, always make absolutely certain they have the means, interest, and ability to care for an animal both short- and long-term. Consider adopting from a shelter to give a pet a forever home.

A Word From Verywell

There are many things that you can do to support a friend or loved one with depression or anxiety. Mood-boosting gifts can help, but so can day-to-day things, such as taking care of tasks (running errands or helping around the house) and reaching out to talk (either in person, on the phone, or through text). Being a steady source of love and support is an important way to let someone know that you care.

9 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  4. Krpan KM, Kross E, Berman MG, Deldin PJ, Askren MK, Jonides J. An everyday activity as a treatment for depression: The benefits of expressive writing for people diagnosed with major depressive disorderJ Affect Disord. 2013;150(3):1148-1151. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2013.05.065

  5. Sánchez-Vidaña DI, Ngai SP, He W, Chow JK, Lau BW, Tsang HW. The effectiveness of aromatherapy for depressive symptoms: A systematic review. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2017;2017:5869315. doi:10.1155/2017/5869315

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  7. Hölzel BK, Carmody J, Vangel M, et al. Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density. Psychiatry Res. 2011;191(1):36-43. doi:10.1016/j.pscychresns.2010.08.006

  8. Lee MS, Lee J, Park BJ, Miyazaki Y. Interaction with indoor plants may reduce psychological and physiological stress by suppressing autonomic nervous system activity in young adults: A randomized crossover studyJ Physiol Anthropol. 2015;34(1):21. doi:10.1186/s40101-015-0060-8

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By Nancy Schimelpfening
Nancy Schimelpfening, MS is the administrator for the non-profit depression support group Depression Sanctuary. Nancy has a lifetime of experience with depression, experiencing firsthand how devastating this illness can be.