We all know someone who’s always anxious about, well, everything. While everyone gets nervous about this or that, for some people, anxiety affects their daily life. We often refer to them as “nervous” or “a real worrier,” but those labels simplify what our anxious loved ones experience, and even giving them a gift can create stress for both the giver and the givee. After all, you don’t want to give them something that will make their anxiety worse, like concert tickets if they have social anxiety.
Remember, you aren’t trying to “fix” them. So, when gifting to an anxious friend or family member, the hope is to support them, nourish them, and call out all the wonderful things you love about them while, yes, keeping their anxieties in mind. Gifts should ease stress, and help reduce some of the secondary symptoms or primary causes of anxiety. After all, giving a gift should never be about you, but about helping your loved one enjoy life to the fullest.
Gift Ideas for People with Anxiety
Many of these ideas can be helpful for people with normal, wholly explicable anxiety about specific things, such as being new parents or having your team in the Super Bowl (and no, I’m not comparing the two…really). But they’re also extremely helpful for people suffering from general anxiety disorders:
A White Noise Machine
Some of the symptoms of clinical anxiety include restlessness, fatigue, and an inability to sleep. The mind is always running, and it can be extremely acute. But white noise machines can help drown out that insistent inner voice, and are proven to encourage sleep. That shouldn’t be underestimated. Not sleeping right is downright unhealthy. A good night’s rest isn’t a cure, of course, but it can help mitigate some of the symptoms of anxiety and stress.
Yoga Classes or Accessories
One year, I signed my particularly anxious friend Mark and I up for yoga classes. I had never done it before, and neither had he, so we were able to be yoga newbies together.
Now, that doesn’t always work—the public aspect might be hard for people with specific types of anxiety, and you might seem like you’re forcing them into doing something.
But there are other ways to enjoy the proven therapeutic benefits of yoga without having to take classes at a studio. You can gift them yoga mats, DVDs or Blu-Rays (or subscriptions to streamed health channels), yoga pants, and much more. That way they can enjoy it without being out in public.
An Indoor Fountain
This is similar to the white noise machine, but for when your friend is awake. People love fountains. The sound of running water is inherently natural, and stands in contraposition to the unnatural way in which so many of us live, surrounded by pinging technology.
There is so much of the modern world that can cause stress or nervousness. Being able to sit on your couch, close your eyes, and feel that you are in a Tennyson-esque idyll can help some of that unnecessary anxiety to melt away.
One thing that Mark always talks about is being disorganized. So, for his birthday this year, I’ve been looking at easy organizational tools, like closet organizers or better shelving systems (which improve upon his careful system of putting whatever, wherever).
It’s not just a matter of buying things, either. I’ve sent him really helpful storage and organizational guides so that he can get a handle on what needs to be done, and my wife and I have volunteered our time as well. Well, she’s much better at it than I am. But I can take directions.
Soothing Bath Products
There are times when being alone can be uncomfortable for someone with anxiety. But, there are also times when it can be great, if the mood is right. And a warm bath always seem to help that mood.
People who fear disaster might be overanxious about dropping their book in the bath, or spilling their beverage, or knocking a candle in. But a bath caddy can prevent that, letting the mind be at ease. Bath salts and bath bombs are also great aromatherapeutic ways to relax, and let the mind be free of itself.
Sometimes, with anxiety, the mind is an enemy, always working its way around to the worst case scenario. A mind that’s allowed to wander unchecked can find some dark corners. That’s where a journal can come in handy.
A journal can create focus and reflection in a more organized way, letting an anxious person work through their thoughts, rather than letting their thoughts work through them. It allows for creativity and personal growth. It lets the mind work for, rather than against, itself.
The Gift of Friendship
Really, the line running through all these ideas is friendship. Your friendship and your understanding are keys to helping an anxious friend cope with the world, whether it’s temporary, cause-driven anxiety over something specific, or a clinical condition.
You are being there for a friend, and are taking their anxiety not as something to be cured, or dismissed, or certainly not something they “should just get over,” but as something to live with in the best possible way. You’re helping deal with symptoms while working on causes.
You’re looking at your friend and saying you’re there for them. That, your presence, is the ultimate present any loved one with anxiety needs.