Let’s be honest, this past year (or year-plus) has been… a lot. You’re stressed. Your friends and family are stressed. We’re all just trying to sneak in some moments of self-care ― and hoping, at this point, that it can consist of more than just reaching for a chocolate bar.
So this holiday season might not be the year to buy people fancy, flashy gifts or complicated gadgets that come with extensive how-to guides. This might be the year to gift those near and dear to you things that will help them to kick back and take a much-needed breather.
But what do you buy those friends and family members who are overworked, overwhelmed and just over it in general? We rounded up a few helpful ideas below.
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Puzzles are a great way to take our minds off the stress of the outside world and feel a sense of control. Working on puzzles may even help to protect an aging brain.
Many people feel a sense of accomplishment when they finish a puzzle, and Jiggy offers a way for that feeling to carry on indefinitely: Its completed puzzles become art that can be framed and displayed. Each Jiggy puzzle also comes with puzzle glue and a tool to help spread it. The best part? A portion of the proceeds from each sale benefits the artist of the puzzle’s image directly.
Get an 800-piece Jiggy Puzzle for $49.
An easy-to-learn musical instrument
Research shows music can relieve stress. And what’s more relaxing than the sounds of a ukulele?
With just four strings (made of nylon, not steel) and simple chord shapes, the ukulele is one of the easiest instruments to learn — even for someone with no musical experience. (It’s also less expensive than a guitar.) This kit comes with everything needed to get you started: a ukulele, a carrying case, a music booklet and instructional CD/DVDs.
Get the Hal Leonard Play Today Ukulele Complete Kit from Guitar Center for $33.98.
An arts and crafts subscription box
A more gentle wake-up call than coffee
Caffeine stimulates our “fight or flight” response and can worsen anxiety symptoms. MUDWTR is a coffee alternative with a fraction of the caffeine in coffee. It’s made from a blend of masala chai, cacao and adaptogenic mushrooms. The starter kit comes with a frother and 30 servings to help someone kick off their mornings with a warm mug.
Get a MUDWTR Ritual Starter Kit for $40.
A countertop aquarium
Most of us stare at a computer screen all day. Why not give your loved one a chance to look at something more fun?
Some evidence suggests that looking at an aquarium can help a person’s blood pressure and heart rate. And picking out tropical fish at a local store is a fun experience for all ages. Bonus: Aquariums are way easier to care for than a cat or dog, so it’s perfect for those who have been wanting a pet but have very little time to care for one.
Get the Aqueon Fish NeoGlow LED Aquarium Starter Kit for $114.99.
A laughter-inducing board game
It’s no secret that laughter is one of the best ways to reduce stress and boost mood. Give the gift of giggles with a hilarious game.
Telestrations is made for ages 8 and above. It combines the basics behind Pictionary and the classic whisper-in-the-ear antics of Telephone. Players draw a card and roll a die to select a word. Then, they are challenged to sketch out the word while a timer counts down. After the time is up, they pass their sketchbook around to other players, who each write down what word they think the drawing illustrates and then attempt to draw it themselves. At the end of a round, all players reveal their drawings and laugh at how far off course some of the sketches got.
Get Telestrations from Target for $19.99.
A spa-worthy chair massager
Everyone wants a day at the spa, but carving out the time for it isn’t always realistic. This HoMedics chair fixture is a great way to bring that experience home. It features a dual kneading feature for your back, which allows users to adjust the pressure, target certain areas and add heat. The user can put it on the back of their office chair and take a moment of zen whenever they need to. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.
Get the HoMedics Shiatsu Plus Massage Cushion with Heat from Bed Bath & Beyond for $99.99.
A fancy scrapbooking kit
Scrapbooking can be an enjoyable way to help you to slow down and reconnect with fond memories of loved ones, family vacations and life-fulfilling events. Creative Memories has a wide assortment of scrapbook supplies perfect for putting a photo album together. And this is not your childhood scrapbooking kit: These sets include beautifully foiled Boho and gemstone accents, artsy backdrop paper and metallic pens for captioning pictures.
Check out the Creative Memories Boho Escape Bundle, the Emerald Gemstone Bundle, or the Vitamin Sea Bundle for $75.50.
A powerful vision board set
For those who may not want to go the scrapbook route, try gifting a vision board kit. This reusable set comes with 100 double-sided cards with motivational quotes and images, a board to put the cards on, a planning guide and more — no messy glue, magazine pages or scissors required.
Get the Bold Tuesday Vision Board Kit from Amazon for $36.95.
A virtual world to relax in
When the real world gets a little too heavy, why not dive into a virtual one? Ceek VR gives users the ability to ditch the stress and fully immerse themselves in its “Chill Space.” Take a stroll through a magical forest, wade through crystal-clear water at a serene beach or enjoy a beautiful meditation on a snowy mountaintop. The device also has a ton of other channels, allowing users to hop into the audiences of concerts, movies, games, sports events and more.
Get the Ceek VR Headset Goggles plus a three-month experiences subscription from Amazon for $99.99. Visit their website for more info.
A beautiful bath bomb
What’s a gift guide on stress without the mention of a bath bomb? They turn your regular bathtub into a trip to the spa. These things truly are worth the hype, and this kit from Etsy ensures your loved one will have multiple options to choose from.
Get a pack of 12 aromatherapy bath bombs from Etsy for $21.
An alarm clock that won’t cause dread
Know someone who is up all night counting their thoughts instead of sheep? Some slumber-inducing tech would be a perfect gift for them.
The Hatch Restore is a bedside sleep assistant that creates a personalized routine for its users. It acts as a sound machine, sunrise alarm, reading light and meditation app all in one. Users will love waking up to their own gentle sunrise, selecting between 22 reading light colors and choosing tranquil sounds to fall asleep to like water or wind.
Get the Hatch Restore Alarm Clock from Amazon for $129.99.
A low-maintenance plant
Plants purify the air, bring a little of the great outdoors into the home and can even improve mood. A Japanese study found that keeping a plant on your desk, and taking a few minutes to glance at it, can help you to feel calmer throughout your workday. Needless to say, it’s a perfect gift for someone who could use a little de-stressing. This particular variety from Etsy is a popular choice among reviewers, who say it’s a quality plant that won’t require too much upkeep.
Get the Lemon Lime Prayer Plant from Etsy starting at $15.75.
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