7 Mood-Boosting Gifts

Thoughtful Ideas for Loved Ones Dealing With Depression

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


A Gift Certificate For a Massage

There's no question a rubdown can work wonders for muscle kinks, but research shows the beneficial effects of massage don't stop there. Research suggests that a single-session 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%.

In a study of teen athletes, those who had regular massage therapy sessions experienced significant decreases in levels of depression, anxiety, and stress.

There are many types of massage, though, so make sure you purchase a gift certificate for one that focuses on relaxation rather than, say, deep-tissue massage.


An Inviting Journal

For someone who enjoys keeping a diary or likes to jot down thoughts throughout the day, a blank book with an inviting cover might be a perfect and potentially uplifting gift.

Journaling is a technique sometimes used by therapists to help patients dealing with mental or emotional issues organize their thoughts and work through issues they may be ruminating about. Some journals come with writing prompts or inspirational quotes, which for some people 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, show immediate and significant decreases on scores of depression. Additionally, these benefits were still present four weeks later, suggesting that the beneficial impact may be lasting.


Essential Oils and Diffuser

Certain scents have been singled out for having a positive impact on mood and so 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 potential feel-good effects.

A gift of high-quality essential oils and attractive diffuser could make a gift that's both lovely to look at and relaxing to use.


Meditation CD

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 of the brain associated with stress and sense of self in as little as eight weeks.

There are lots of guided meditations to choose from, so unless you have a favorite yourself, consider gifting a CD from one of the masters, such as Jon Kabat–Zinn, Tara Branch, or Pema Chodron.


A Change of Greenery

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

Some nice greens for giving include golden pothos, arrowhead vine, Chinese evergreen, dracaena, philodendron, snake plant, peace lily, and vinca vine.


Gift Certificate For Yoga Classes

According to Harvard Medical School, 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 gifting classes to someone, especially if you know he or she is 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. 


A Furry Friend

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 a person has the means, interest, and ability to care for an animal both in the short- and long-term.

Be sure to consider adopting a dog or cat from a shelter to give it a forever home.

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