Depression Treatment 7 Mood-Boosting Gifts Thoughtful Ideas for Loved Ones Dealing With Depression By Nancy Schimelpfening 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. Learn about our editorial process Updated on October 11, 2021 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Amy Morin, LCSW, Editor-in-Chief Print 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. 1 Gift Certificate for a Massage BraunS / Getty Images 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). How Massage Can Ease Anxiety 2 Inviting Journal Asawin_Klabma / Getty Images 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. The Benefits of Journaling 3 Essential Oils and Diffuser belchonock / Getty Images 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. 4 Subscription to a Meditation App FatCamera / Getty Images 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. What Is Meditation? 5 Greenery MarioGuti / Getty Images 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. 6 Gift Certificate for Yoga Classes fizkes / Getty Images 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. How Yoga Can Help Reduce Stress 7 Furry Friend Maskot / Getty Images 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. How to Help Someone With Depression 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. Moraska A, Pollini RA, Boulanger K, Brooks MZ, Teitlebaum L. Physiological adjustments to stress measures following massage therapy: a review of the literature. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2010;7(4):409-18. doi:10.1093/ecam/nen029 Field T, Hernandez-Reif M, Diego M, Schanberg S, Kuhn C. Cortisol decreases and serotonin and dopamine increase following massage therapy. Int J Neurosci. 2005;115(10):1397-1413. doi:10.1080/00207450590956459 Zadkhosh SM, Ariaee E, Atri AE, Rashidlamir A, Saadatyar A. The effect of massage therapy on depression, anxiety and stress in adolescent wrestlers. Int J Sport Studies. 2015;5(3):321-327. 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 disorder. J Affect Disord. 2013;150(3):1148-1151. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2013.05.065 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 Koulivand PH, Khaleghi Ghadiri M, Gorji A. Lavender and the nervous system. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:681304. doi:10.1155/2013/681304 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 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 study. J Physiol Anthropol. 2015;34(1):21. doi:10.1186/s40101-015-0060-8 Brooks H, Rushton K, Walker S, Lovell K, Rogers A. Ontological security and connectivity provided by pets: A study in the self-management of the everyday lives of people diagnosed with a long-term mental health condition. BMC Psychiatry. 2016;16(1):409. doi:10.1186/s12888-016-1111-3 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. 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