One of the most effective ways to help someone living with anxiety is to show them you care. In addition to listening and offering emotional support, finding the right gifts for people with anxiety can go a long way.
In fact, there is evidence that shows support from family, friends, and communities can motivate someone with depression or anxiety to get the professional help they need. Someone living with a mental illness is more likely to seek out support if a friend or loved one suggests it.
Gift-giving is a powerful way to show your support for someone living with anxiety; and with the holidays approaching as anxiety on the rise, this show of appreciation can go a long way. The right gift can empower a loved one to work on their own mental health.
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6 Considerate Gifts for Those Living with Anxiety
Weighted blankets have proven to provide relief from stress through a technique called “deep pressure stimulation” or DPS. Deep pressure stimulation is the gentle application of physical pressure, such as a hug, massage, or cuddling. A weighted blanket simulates these sensations.
The pressure from a weighted blanket lowers blood pressure and heart rate, which both play a significant role in anxiety. It also increases levels of serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins. This increase in “happy hormones” allows someone suffering from anxiety to regulate their mood, increase feelings of happiness, and reduce stress.
- Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that plays a significant role in our “pleasure center.” It also supports our motor functioning, cognitive function, ability to learn, and our memory.
- Serotonin also regulates motor functioning, learning, and memory. It also regulates our appetite and sleep, which are essential factors in stress and anxiety regulation.
- Endorphins play a central role in relieving stress and pain when we’re faced with an anxiety-inducing situation.
Weighted blankets not only relieves symptoms of anxiety disorders; they can also alleviate symptoms of ADHD, autism, chronic stress, PTSD, and OCD. Some of the symptoms weighted blankets have been known to alleviate include the following:
- Sensory process issues and the anxiety that results
- Focus issues with ADHD
- Fibromyalgia flare-ups
- Obsessions and compulsions of OCD
People with anxiety and depression often get caught in negative automatic thought processes, which can leave them trapped in a cycle of low mood, negative memories, and worries about the future.
Mindfulness exercises have shown to interrupt this automatic thought process. This staves off any resulting physical symptoms like fatigue and burnout.
Mindfulness practice helps people with anxiety separate themselves from their thoughts, think critically about their emotions vs. feeling overwhelmed by them, and liberate them from the self-sabotaging behaviors that would result.
For this reason, mindfulness exercises are used extensively in cognitive-behavioral therapy approaches.
Some examples of mindfulness techniques include:
- Breathing exercises
- Gentle stretching exercises
- Visualization practices
- Body scan
It can be easy to get overwhelmed by self-care practices. Using mindfulness cards is a simple, structured, and digestible way to get one small mindfulness practice in each day.
Stop Self-Sabotage: Six Steps to Unlock Your True Motivation, Harness Your Willpower, and Get Out of Your Own Way
Triple board-certified neuropsychologist and MedCircle Educator Dr. Judy Ho is an expert in leveraging the foundations of neuroscience to stop the cycle of self-sabotaging behavior and the anxiety that results.
Many people with anxiety self-sabotage because of cognitive distortions. Cognitive distortions can be chalked up to “your brain lying to you.” Anxiety can pave “faulty” connections in our brain. Since our brains function by connecting our thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and their consequences, any malfunction to this process hurts our emotional health. When this process is thrown off, cognitive distortions result.
Dr. Judy sheds light on cognitive-behavioral techniques that can reduce stress, help someone with anxiety rewire cognitive distortions, and ultimately live a better life.
This book provides a step-by-step guide and inspires you to take action – one of many wonderful gifts for people with anxiety.
White Noise Machine
Quality sleep is an essential component of keeping stress and anxiety at bay. Research shows that sleep allows our brain to “take out the garbage,” so to speak.
Sleep allows us to forget unnecessary information, which makes our ability to learn during waking hours easier and more efficient. Studies also suggest that when we don’t give our brain the chance for this “clean-up”, mental health disorders are more likely to result. Sleep deficit can also aggravate symptoms of existing mental illnesses.
Additionally, getting adequate sleep makes it easier to regulate emotion. It does so by increasing activity in the following areas of the brain:
- Amygdala: the “fear response center” of the brain. It controls our response to stress. Many people know it since it’s responsible for our “fight, flight, or freeze” behavior. When we have a sleep deficit, this response center is out of whack. With adequate sleep, the amygdala can adapt better to our surroundings and better regulate our anxiety.
- Hippocampus: the hippocampus stores our long-term memory. Getting enough sleep helps with long-term memory formation.
- Insula: This area of the brain is part of an extensive neural network responsible for emotional empathy. Studies show that getting adequate sleep activates this part of the brain. Sleep can literally make us more attuned to others’ needs.
While a white noise machine certainly cannot solve all of these mental and cognitive impacts, it can be a useful tool for improving sleep. White noise masks other environmental noises that stimulate the brain. This, in turn, improves quality of sleep. In fact, a recent study involving hospital patients with sleep disorders revealed that white noise improved both their sleep quality and duration.
Calligraphy Starter Kit
Sometimes, an out-of-the-ordinary gift can not only reduce anxiety; it can trigger a new hobby, which can further stave off stress. A calligraphy starter kit is a great way to facilitate this coping strategy.
Calligraphy is the skill of handwriting; specifically fancy, decorative handwriting. It is considered an art form in many cultures.
One study highlighted the effectiveness of calligraphy in relieving stress. A group of Taiwan-based graduate students and staff who suffered from anxiety were put into 3 groups: a control group, a calligraphy group, and a meditation group for 8 weeks. Their stress levels were measured before, during, and after treatment.
The study revealed that the practice of calligraphy lowered heart rate, respiratory rate, and muscle tension. These effects were similar to those of the meditation group. This shows the promise of calligraphy in anxiety reduction.
Calligraphy also requires developing a new skill. It is a hobby for many; and hobbies are a productive, enjoyable way to calm an overactive mind. It can be especially useful for those with panic disorder.
One study highlighted how developing a hobby (like calligraphy) can help mental health. It examined whether participation in leisure activities reduced either physiological or psychological distress. It did so by distributing a PEAT (Pittsburgh Enjoyable Activities Test) to 1400 participants between the ages of 19-89 years. The PEAT measured the subjects’ participation in 10 different types of enjoyable activities.
Over the course of just two days, higher PEAT scores were associated with lower levels of depression, decreased levels of cortisol (a stress hormone), lower waist circumference, decreased “negative affect” (AKA poor self-concept and negativity), and perceptions of higher physical function.
Research also suggests that hobbies can make you more productive at work, which serves to alleviate work-related stress and anxiety. They also remind us that life outside of work is important.
The research is clear; developing a hobby can help stress and anxiety. Calligraphy is a unique and fun way to improve mental health and a calligraphy starter kit is a thoughtful gift for someone living with anxiety.
As stress and anxiety are on the rise, the importance of mental health literacy has taken center stage in the public eye.
Mental health education empowers a patient or survivor to take back control of their life. It enables them to understand their diagnosis, avoid or discover a potential misdiagnosis, and learn the wide variety of treatment options.
Many people “feel bad about feeling bad,” which, according to research, aggravates symptoms of mental illness. More often than not, mental health literacy validates someone’s experience with mental illness because they finally understand what’s going on, and that their experience is more prevalent and widespread than they previously thought. The same study suggests that this awareness promotes help-seeking behaviors. This goes a long way in paving the road to recovery.
Mental health education can also empower supporters to truly understand how to effectively help their loved one. Knowing a family member is experiencing a mental illness is overwhelming in itself. Mental health education reduces overwhelm which enables someone to take logical steps to help someone with a mental illness.
Gifting a MedCircle Membership provides this mental health education. It’s an excellent gift for people living with anxiety.
With 900+ videos on mental health treatments, disorders, someone living with a mental health condition can transform their life. Weekly live classes allow viewers to ask questions and take the next step toward finding the right clinician, the right treatment, or simply the right coping strategies.