I can’t quite believe I’m saying that. Finally? Already? I don’t know, time seems to be totally incomprehensible this year.
But one thing is for sure, Father Christmas, Papa Noel, Old Saint Nick, whatever you call him is prepping his sleigh and ready to ‘ho ho ho’ his way down your chimney.
Whether you love or loathe the festive season, it can be A LOT.
If it’s your favourite thing, you’re possibly trying to cram as much as you can in this December. You wanna inject joy into every last second of the year and after 2020, who can blame you?
But, if it’s not then you’re probably dreading the constant stream of demands on your energy, forced merriment and collection of novelty gifts that make you mourn for mother earth.
I’ve been on both sides of the yuletide fence and I can tell you that they can be equally as exhausting.
And this year, with all the weirdness it takes on a whole new dimension of complex.
That’s why I feel like it’s more important than ever that we use the season of giving to look after ourselves and those around us.
And I’m not talking about new socks, as lovely as they are. I’m talking about gifts that can nurture our wellbeing.
Things that soothe an anxious mind and a stressed-out body.
Things that are proven (by yours truly) to bring some calm to the chaos around us.
Here are my top (and very affordable) gift ideas, from independent retailers, for that can help support mental wellbeing this festive season and beyond.
Let it flow: Pen and paper
My ultimate soother is good old pen and paper. It doesn’t need to be fancy – although it’s so lovely when it is – it just needs to be a space for you to empty your head. We have over 6000 thoughts a day which can be really overwhelming – even if they are positive.
Writing helps us slow them down, clarify our ideas, reflect on where we’re at and how we feel. It was always my go-to activity when I was anxious but these days I do it routinely and the difference it makes is huge.
Pen and paper can also be a great way to get creative, whether that’s drawing, painting, writing – all fantastic ways to practice mindfulness or active meditation.
I really love the old fashioned leather wraps that you can refill and use over and over. The thought of having a well loved piece that’s enveloped my thought for years is a bit romantic but also really soothing for me. This etsy shop has beautiful, personalised and handmade options.
Calm and focus: A guided journal (nope, not the same as above, read on!)
I go on about starting and ending days with rituals a fair bit on LinkedIn and Instagram. It genuinely does wonders for anxiety. It can help us keep focused and allows us to acknowledge all the progress we make.
Feeling like you haven’t done enough seems to be a running theme these days. And it can really wear us down. Keeping a simple note of your goals, actions and how you feel about them all is super quick and simple ‘hack’ to move past this worry.
We do so much more than we give ourselves credit for having a place where we keep a record of it can help us let go of the notion that we are behind (to be clear, this is not about being more productive to cram more into the day, it’s about being focused so you have more calm and more time for rest)
I really like hybrid journal/planners and my current favourite is the 90 Day Manifestation journal by Chloe Slade of Vibe and Flow.
It’s simple and structured. Don’t be put off by the language if manifesting isn’t your bag. It’s just a little bit of magic on top of a very effective approach to managing your work and energy. My old project management brain really loves the structure. I hope you will too.
Little bit of lux: Scented Candles
I’m a massive fan of candles. After a day of screens I can’t wait to light some little waxy numbers and relax. Not only is it cosy and gentler on the eyes but the scent of them can have a beautiful effect on our moods.
The bit of our brains that processes smells is the same as the bit that processes emotions and memories. So we can choose a scent that takes us back to a moment of calm or choose one we like and combine it with a soothing ritual – over time it will get locked into our brains.
At the end of each day as I am wrapping up I light a candle. It signals to my brain that I am finished working and lets me know I am winding down.
Currently, I am in love with the small batch, hand poured collection from Thornbush Hill home fragrances. The scent gently fills the room and they burn perfectly….for ages!!!
Colour pops and kindness: Clothing from The Enthusiast & Co.
I detest going clothes shopping (so, so, so many reasons behind this – you can get an idea of why from this previous blog) and have spent most of my adult life in black, grey and khaki.
But I’ve recently started wearing colour. And not just any colour. But bright orange, pink and peach all thanks to the beautiful pieces from The Enthusiast & Co. Not only are the clothes fun, beautiful quality and sustainable but the messages emblazoned on them means that you can’t help but smile and make others smile when you wear them.
I bought this sweater and this tshirt recently and they make me skip (carefully, because I’m pretty clumsy) down the stairs in the morning. Highly recommend these for a light hearted injection of enthusiasm into your life.
More nose friendly goods: Essential oils
Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you to start adding magic oils to your food (that sh*t is actually dangerous) and I’m not part of an MLM essential oil company but I have used oils for years. Scent is such a powerful soother for me and I have incorporated oils into yoga, meditation and even my sleep routine for ages.
But recently I’ve been adding a few drops to the shower walls before hopping in. Eucalyptus in the AM to wake me up lavender in the eve to wind down before bed.
The steam spreads the scent around the bathroom and aside for being relaxing it feels super luxurious, like a spa experience only without the price tag, chlorine and inappropriate glances.
You can try any brands but Makers Ingredients are highly recommended plus the packaging is stylish and perfect as a gift.
Toasty toes: Hot water bottle
I know, I know, these gifts all sound a little bit like they are for little grannies. But trust me, they help.
Obviously, a cosy bottle feels great on a winter’s night but it can also really help with some of the symptoms of anxiety.
A little known fact about anxiety is that it can make your extremities very cold when it strikes. Your hands and feet can get pretty chilly when things are feeling a bit too much and the heat works wonders on them.
It’s also amazing for soothing muscular aches and pains that commonly come with stress and burnout.
Again, you don’t need anything fancy but if you’re going to make it a treat then this personalised one from Catherine Cole Brook, Not on the High Street is a great option.
Put the kettle on: Anxiety friendly Coffee
And before this ‘short’ blog becomes the longest list Ole St Nick claps his eyes on let’s finish with this gorgeous decaf from Girls Who Grind.
Don’t roll your eyes. #Deathbeforedecaf is another example of toxic #hustle culture in my opinion.
And with so many delicious decaf potions out there now, we no longer have to choose between taste or a panic attack.
This beautiful coffee is a great stocking filler for anyone who would rather skip the sense of impending dooms that comes after each cup of joe.
And there you have it. A handful (or so) of affordable gift ideas that you can treat yourself or your loved ones to for a soothing end to year.
If you’d like to some tips on how to remove overwhelm, avoid burnout and nurture your mental health then sign up for my monthly memo “things that help” below.
And if you want to learn more about how you can support your wellbeing you can find me, my big shiny teeth and all my tips over on Instagram.