I have lived with anxiety for as long as I can remember. Notice I say “lived with” and not suffer”. Although living with anxiety can be scary, overwhelming, and exhausting, I still have a really great life. Even in this crazy “unprecedented” year. Throughout my adult life, I’ve learned a lot about anxiety (and myself) and have both found and created coping mechanisms to help with my anxiety. And since everyone else in the world has come to join me in the OCD/germophobe/high anxiety club this year (Welcome! I wish we were meeting under different circumstances.), I wanted to share some ideas for the best gifts for people with anxiety.
What makes a great gift for someone with anxiety?
When it comes to gifts for highly anxious people, I think there are a few different ways you can go. First would be something cozy and comforting. Next, there are the helpful gifts. Last but not least, whatever you get them, make sure it is thoughtful and doesn’t come with a lot of choices. If there’s anything that can send me into a tailspin when I’m having an anxious moment, it’s having to make a decision.
Although some of the gift ideas in this list aren’t the most glamorous, they’re all things that have really helped me learn to live with my anxiety. Looking back, I’m not sure how I would have reacted if someone gave me some of these suggestions as gifts, but they have all greatly increased my quality of life. So you might get some intrigued reactions. But giving your loved ones your support (even if you don’t fully understand) is the best gift you can give.
What is the worst gift to give a highly anxious person?
Gift cards. Now I know a lot of people LOVE gift cards. However, when you are high anxiety, high stress, or highly sensitive, a gift card can easily become a wasted gift. Because although you’re trying to be nice and let me get whatever I want, I am going to fixate and focus on what I should use it on that would be the perfect thing that YOU would want to get ME. Therefore, there’s a high chance I will never use that gift card because nothing will ever feel worthy.
Whereas I could totally use that Sephora gift card literally ANY time I leave the house, every time I go to the store I will think to myself “Aunt Ruth wouldn’t want me to just get basic skincare. She’d want me to get something really cool and special that I wouldn’t normally buy for myself.” But when I find something new I will think “No, I can’t spend my gift card on that because what if I don’t like it and then can’t return it? Then it would be a waste.” And that gift card will live the rest of it’s life in my wallet.
Even an extremely practical gift card can meet the same fate. If I get a Visa gift card, instead of just using it next time I buy groceries, I will think “I need to save this for something extra special”. Or if I get a gas station gift card I’ll think “I need to save this for an emergency or sometime when I don’t have enough money for fuel.”
Of course any gift is a wonderful gift. I don’t want to seem ungrateful. I’m just trying to help explain how an anxious person’s brain works. It’s not that we’re ungrateful or unappreciative. It’s that sometimes we don’t feel worthy and that no occasion, item, or purchase will ever feel special enough for your love.
Practical helpful gifts for people with anxiety
Although these aren’t the sexiest gift ideas, these practical gifts for highly anxious people can help your loved ones calm their minds and focus on the good things in life.
A Calm App subscription. At the beginning of the pandemic, the Calm App released some free resources to help with anxiety and I found it incredibly helpful. (Click here to go to that page.) In fact, listening to the Deep Sleep Release program is the only thing that helped me sleep for longer than I care to admit. A full subscription to the Calm App is a little pricey. ($69.99 a year or $14.99 a month. You can also get a lifetime membership for $399.99.) But if that’s in your budget, it can be super helpful. I really like listening to calming meditations a night and podcasts during the day. Mostly because if I have other voices in my head, it drowns out my own. There is also another app called Headspace, but I don’t have any experience with that one. (It’s $12.99 a month or $69.99 a year.)
Security cameras (or baby monitors). This is probably one of the top three most helpful things I’ve done for my anxiety. (The other two are Mila and the next item on this list.) Although it might sound crazy to have cameras around your house (or especially an apartment), it has definitely given me peace of mind. Personally, I have this baby monitor from Amazon. I love that it is inexpensive and connects to an app on my phone.
To be sure, this might be an odd gift. But it’s a great gift for people who worry. Because they can just open their app and check in on whatever concerns them. Maybe it’s that they heard a noise and want to check the living room. Or maybe they’re constantly worried they left the garage door open. Worry no more! Just check the camera! Not only that, but if you have multiple of them, they all connect to the same app. So your phone can look like a security office battle station in an action movie.
R3set Stress Supplement. This was one of my best 2020 finds. In fact, this supplement is the only thing I’ve ever found that works. You can get it at Target and Amazon. There is a day version and a night version and you can buy them separately (14 days for $18 each) or as a set (14 days of both for $30). Plus they are a small company with great customer service, and they are always running sales on both Target and Amazon.
The biggest thing I’ve noticed is that it takes away the physical signs of my anxiety. When I’m in a stressful or high anxiety situation, my heart doesn’t race and I don’t panic sweat. I also find it easier to breathe and focus. In fact, the night time one is the only thing I’ve ever found to actually help me get real sleep. And the night version doesn’t contain melatonin, so no crazy nightmares! Because the last thing anyone with anxiety wants is more nightmares. We have enough of our own, thank you!
An eye mask that won’t cause wrinkles or damage their eyelashes. I can’t sleep if there’s any light in my room at all. Not even a clock. But sometimes, even in the pitch black, I still can’t sleep. However, wearing an eye mask can help physically remind me that my eyes need to be closed, which can sometimes finally get me to fall asleep.
Although, as a beauty addict, you know I’m always concerned about the important things – like lashes and wrinkles. Which is what sets this $12 eye mask from Amazon apart from all others. This eye mask has moulded cups (like a bra!) that cover your eyes without pressing on your lids causing damage to lash extensions or your natural lashes. Plus it is adjustable with a velcro strip, so you can make sure it doesn’t slip off or fit too tight. And no, the velcro has never gotten stuck in my hair.
Aromatherapy diffuser. I’m a big fan of things that smell good. So bonus points if any of the smells can help calm me. In fact, I have a mini diffuser on my desk and a larger one in my bedroom. There are so many cool diffusers out there now. This is the one I have on my desk ($20 from Amazon in white) but there are so many other options across all price ranges. Including this $99 insanely gorgeous and inviable one from Vitruvi that I’m sure you’ve seen on your fave Insta feeds. Just make sure whichever one you pick has an automatic shut off mechanism. After all, this is a list of gifts for people with anxiety…
Some of my favorite scents are lavender, jasmine, eucalyptus, and peppermint. But some people are super sensitive to smells, so you can always pick up an essential oil starter kit like this one from Walmart. It has 6 scents for $15 including breathe easy, immunity, relaxation, and calming sleep.
Sunlight lamp. This is the newest tool in my anxiety tool box. Now that it gets dark at like 4:30p, I’ve been really struggling. However, I’ve been using this $40 sunlight lamp from Amazon for about a week now and have noticed my 2p slump isn’t nearly as bad. Plus, it sits on my desk next to my computer and gives AMAZING lighting for zoom calls. So there’s that.
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Cozy gifts for highly anxious people
To be sure, this section is my favorite. Although these gifts are more glamorous than the practical ones we just went through, they also take up more space. But they’re totally worth it. I love nothing more than to cuddle up in a cocoon of coziness at the end of a high stress day. Wrapping your loved one in a cloud of faux fur and comfort can be a super helpful gift for someone with anxiety. Not only can it be very calming, but it will also remind them of you every time they’re snuggled up feeling safe, warm, and oh so loved.
Gravity blanket/weighted blanket. After the security cameras, this was the second purchase I made when trying to find ways to manage my anxiety. I have this one from Amazon in gray – I think mine is the 60×80 15lbs one. They do range in price from $35-$120 depending on the size and weight you choose. My favorite thing about this particular one is that it has a removable washable cover. And it’s super super soft and cozy. I use mine as a comforter and have trouble sleeping without it now. Although sometimes it does get really hot and I find myself pushing it off the bed in the middle of the night. But I never have trouble falling back to sleep after. If you want to know more, you can read my full blog post about weighted blankets here.
A super comfortable robe. I love robes. In fact, I wrote an entire blog post about how much I loved my favorite robe several years ago when I first started this blog. And yes, I am recommending the same robe again today. Although the Ugg Duffield Robe is expensive ($130 ish), I have had mine for over 4 years and it still looks and feels brand new. This robe is different than any I’ve ever had before or since. Mostly because it’s like wearing a luxurious cozy blanket around the house and it’s so soft but the fabric is really thick and decadent.
I do recommend sizing up if you want a really snuggly cozy feel. I have it in both an XS and an S and prefer the S. The XS fits a bit more like a fitted dress coat instead of a snuggly robe in which I can just curl up and lounge. I also love that it doesn’t have a hood. Wearing clothes with hoods gives me extra anxiety, so I try to steer clear. You can find the Ugg Duffield Robe at Amazon, Zappos, and the Ugg website. I have both Black Bear and Cream but the Navy shade looks super cute. Ugg also has a similar robe for boys too but it has a hood.
A big comfy blanket. I love blankets. Possibly even more than I love my robe. Idk. It’s a hard call. But there’s just something about a super soft massive blanket. I know Barefoot Dreams blankets are all the rage right now, but I’m more of a fan of the faux fur variety. You know the kind – the ones that just make you want to burrow up and hibernate all winter. If you’re looking for a more extravagant gift, I’m a big advocate for the Ugg Duffield Throw ($98 from Nordstrom, Zappos, DSW, or Ugg). And no, that’s not just because it matches my beloved robe! It’s crazy soft and has lasted years, even through washing and lots of use.
Of course if you’re looking for something more budget friendly, this $36 one from Amazon is in my cart right now. Not that I need another blanket. But it just looks sooooo soft. And it comes in 21 colors and comes in sizes up to a king 108×86 inches. And if a full on blanket is too much, or they already have a favorite one, this $30 faux fur pillow from Target is everything. It’s absolutely massive and Mila and I both love it. In fact, if she’s not laying in front of the fireplace, she’s usually perched on this pillow like a little throne. Man. After all of this cozy lounge talk, Netflix and nap time, here I come!
Books. Like I mentioned with podcasts earlier, I love filling my brain space with other things so I can’t get lost in my own thoughts and ruminations. And an incredible way to relax and unwind (and distract) at the end of the day is by reading a book. Whether your anxious recipient is looking to disappear into a fantasy world, or read more about their own anxieties, there are countless books out there. Some of my favorites for self help and reflection are You Are A Badass, Tuesdays With Morrie, and Big Magic. I recently started reading It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way, and I also picked up Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics and Rewire Your Anxious Brain.
Some of my favorite chick-lit books I’ve read this year are the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy, Sex & Vanity (also by Kevin Kwan), American Royals and Majesty by Katharine McGee, and The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan. (Their follow up book, The Heir Affair is out in hardcover and the paperback will be out July 31, 2021 but I haven’t picked it up yet.) Currently, I’m getting ready to start reading One To Watch. I’ve heard good things.
One line a day journal. Of course if you’re looking for a more thoughtful gift for someone with anxiety, there’s always the One Line A Day Journal. This is one of my go-to gifts and it’s always a huge hit. This is basically an empty book with a page for every day. Each page is broken up into 5 sections. One for each of the next 5 years. At the end of each day, write something. It can be how you feel, what you did, or something funny that happened. It’s a really great way to put things into perspective. I’ve had friends use them to write memories for their kids. You can even use it as a gratitude journal.
I use mine as a combination of all of the above. I’ve almost filled all 5 years of my first book. It’s so fascinating to be able to look back and see where you were and what you did 1-4 years ago every single day. Plus it’s a great way to reflect and remember how grateful, loved, and blessed you are, as well as how far you’ve come and how much you’ve grown.
Shop cozy gift ideas for people with anxiety
There you go. Those are my top picks for the best gifts for people with anxiety. Coming from a person with anxiety. I know it’s not easy to live with anxiety, and it’s especially not easy this year in particular. A lot of people either don’t know how to convey their anxieties or don’t understand that what they are experiencing is in fact anxiety. So my biggest piece of advice to everyone is to just have a little extra patience and understanding with your loved ones right now. Everyone is going through a lot and tensions are high. But you never know what anyone else is going through behind closed doors. Even the happiest, most positive and caring people in your life may be struggling. All we can do is take a moment to love each other a little bit louder.
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