Whether it be for the holidays, a birthday, or just a random day, there are some gifts that are extremely thoughtful that could brighten the spirits of someone who is going through a hard time in their life. I'm sure we all know a couple of friends or even family members perhaps, that need some extra 'TLC' in their life.
Made You Smile Back is all about cheering people up and putting a smile back into our lives. In this article, we shall expand on the overwhelming need for us to recognize and acknowledge those around us who are in need of our support in their times of struggle. What better way than to find thoughtful ways of cheering them up.
And while this article will focus on 'self-care gifts', we will also explore other 'gifts' that are composed of our time and efforts to be 'present' to our dear friends and family members.
We need to remind ourselves that one out of four people at any given time, suffer from clinical depression or from more acute mental illnesses such as anxiety, several types of depression, bi-polar, or from the sadness created from a painful breakup or grieving from a personal loss of a friend or family member.
The Most Important Gift of All ..... Our Time
As I mentioned above, one out of four adults in America live with depression or some kind of mental illness in any given time. There are also those who deal with chronic pain, grief, post-traumatic stress — and too many other things to list — that are often enhanced throughout the holidays.
One of the most important gifts that we can provide to our loved ones is simple - the gift of 'time'. And what I mean by this is making the genuine effort of being 'present' and 'attentive'.
Per a previous blog post I did earlier in the year, 'Beyond Sadness - Helping Your Friends Smile Again', I can't help but to reiterate what was conveyed:
One of the most dynamic and thoughtful things one can do, is making the effort to make someone smile and brighten their day. It’s nice to be nice.
It takes someone who really cares, who is authentic and be willing to put in the effort to make a genuine difference when trying to make someone happy.
Show Them You Truly Care!
I don’t care how sad or depressed someone is, everyone wants to feel happier. Your friends want to know they are both appreciated and loved. Always – no matter what – greet them with a smile and make sure you call them by their name. Ask them how they are and that you are thinking of them.
Be emotionally supportive by letting them know you will always be there for them. And know that in times of grief, patience is a virtue.
Hugs are one of the most overlooked powerful gestures we can give to one another. It not only shows that you care, but they are truly healing. That said, it is both important and respectful to always ask first if it's okay to give them a hug. Some may not be ready for it or its simply a culture thing.
But do know this… just by the mere act of ‘asking’ will make a strong impact on your friend. Try it and be prepared for a positive response!
Learn to be a Good 'Listener'
Let’s try our best and get beyond their sadness and make that effort to get them to smile back again. One way to do this is by learning to be a good listener. Be in the present with them. And by all means, PLEASE put away your cell phone. This tells them when they’re talking, that you value their thoughts and you’re giving him or her the attention they deserve.
Surprise Them With an Unexpected Gift Basket!
One thing I want to emphasize. Regardless of whether you're shopping for a gift for a holiday or a birthday, etc. do KNOW that receiving a 'surprise gift' anytime is a serendipitous joy, especially to those who are going thru a hard time. Not only will it provide you with great feelings of gratitude, but you shall also have provided much joy and cheerfulness into your friend's life. You will have touched them where it's most important -- the heart!
10 Thoughtful Gifts to Include in a Self-Care Gift Basket
The following is a very selective list of 10 thoughtful gifts to include in making up a personal, handmade 'self-care gift basket'. Of course, there are dozens of potential gifts that can be unique to the friend or family member you're gifting.
That said, here are some great uplifting gift ideas that will surely cheer up your friend and bring back a smile onto their face!
One - Scented Heating Shoulder Wrap
It's a known fact that aromatherapy plays an important part in destressing and has a calming effect. Your friend will not only benefit from this but each time they feel the warmth from this shoulder wrap, they are receiving a 'physical albeit mental' hug from you! What could be better than that other than the real thing?
Two - An Ambient Sound Machine
If you have a friend who suffers from anxiety or is simply an 'overthinker', consider gifting an ambient sound machine. According to sound expert and author Julian Treasure: “Sound in a space affects us profoundly. It changes our heart rate, breathing, hormone secretion, brain waves. It affects our emotions and our cognition.”
Thankfully, science has proven methods to help us relax amidst stress. Science gives us white noise as one sound-based remedy that can help relax our bodies and our brains.
Who doesn't enjoy the sound of 'ocean waves' or 'soft rain pouring down in a forest'? My husband got me one of these a couple of years ago and I just LOVE it. If you find yourself restless, this is a gift that keeps on giving!
Three - Give the Gift of Journaling
Journaling has been proven to provide positive well-being and significant health benefits including therapeutic healing from mental health issues as well as loss and grief. And not only that, it’s one of the cheapest self-care habits one can learn easily. All it takes is just a sheet of paper and a pen or pencil!
Did you know that it only takes 21 days to change a habit, but 90 days to change your life?
LIFE-CHANGING BENEFITS OF JOURNALS DISCOVERED
Lena Schmidt of The Chopra Center, states: “Writing down your thoughts, dreams, feelings, and ideas is a healthy and beneficial practice for overall wellness. Writing helps get to the heart of the matter by getting whatever you’re dealing with off your mind and onto the page. Writing about the pain of heartbreak, the confusing feelings that arise after an argument, or the mess of your life after a big transition helps make those feelings real. “
Per the recent blog entitled, 'The Awesome Healing Power of Journaling" these are some of the benefits from doing this magical act of writing our thoughts:
- Journaling Makes You Smarter
- Journaling Reduces Your Stress Levels
- Journaling Makes You Nicer … and More Grateful
- Journaling Keeps You More Focused
- Journaling Organizes Your Thoughts
- Journaling Helps Turn Your Dreams Into Goals
- Journaling Provides Well-Being for your Mind and Spirit.
For additional reading about the healing powers of journaling, please read this: https://madeyousmileback.com/the-awesome-healing-power-of-journaling/
Four - Hot Drinks & Homemade Baked Goods
Cheer up that buddy of yours and don't forget to include your friend's favorite coffee, tea, hot cocoa inside this wonderful self-care gift basket you're creating. And while you're at it, you know and I know, we ALL enjoy a homemade baked good to sip our favorite warm drink with!
Hey! Why not throw in some chocolate while you are at it! I don't know a single person who doesn't enjoy chocolate, do you!
Five - Give a Special Mug with an Inspirational Saying
Everyone has their 'go-to-favorite-mug'! Why not give a gift with a thought-provoking, but inspirational saying? I can't be shy... Made You Smile Back is very proud of our new product offering which shall be available very soon!
But there are plenty of mugs to choose from... with colorful smiley faces to timeless humorous quotes. This is a must gift to include to go along with the cappacchino (or other warm drink mixes)! And each time, your friend or loved one drinks from it, who do you think they are going to think of??
Six - Give the Gift of Indulgence with Beauty Spa Products
Earlier, we mentioned the benefits of aromatherapy. Why not take it a step further and indulge your friend or loved one with luxurious beauty spa products. They are not just for the ladies! Men enjoy being pampered too!
Have you ever been next to someone and you got a very pleasant 'whiff' of lavender or a type of perfume/cologne? It brings a smile to your face, doesn't it?
Whether it is just a simple hand lotion or an all-over body butter product, you are giving a wonderful gift of 'self-care' that they will thoroughly enjoy and be thankful to you for it.
Seven - The Popular 'Weighted Blanket'
The latest trend for anti-anxiety gifts are the 'weighted blankets'! Weighted blankets tend to look a lot like other cozy throws. The difference is that they’re typically filled with tiny glass sand or plastic pellets that help distribute approximately 10 to 30 pounds of weight evenly over the wearer’s body while they relax or sleep.
According to Justin Scanlan, Ph.D., professor of occupational therapy and mental health clinician-researcher at the University of Sydney, deep pressure is the pleasant, soothing sensation associated with various forms of compression-based touch, like swaddling, massaging, and hugging. “Many people like the feeling of pressure against their body and find this pressure relaxing and calming,” Schneeberg explains.
My daughter recently received one as a gift and she just loves it and says it really has made a difference in her ability to 'quiet her mind' and be able to fall asleep easier. And we all know how sleep is so important not only to our general health, but to our mental health as well.
Eight - Anti-Anxiety Tokens or 'Touch Stones'
Have you ever heard of 'touch stones'? They are also known as 'worry stones' and originated, believe it or not, from the Ancient Greeks. They are known for relaxation and have anti-anxiety benefits of a calming effect.
Long before there were fidget spinners and mind-numbing mobile games, there were these worry stones or what we call today as 'touch stones' or 'tokens'. It’s just about the simplest form of natural medicine!
Wikipedia states, " The concept of a worry stone began by the simple act of picking a smooth stone and fiddling with the stone. Worry stones made by seawater were generally used by Ancient Greeks.
Don't know which one to give to your friend or family member in need? Find out their favorite color or even the month they are born. There's a wide variety of 'gemstones' such as the amethyst which is also known for its healing powers. But this is one item you can think 'outside-the-box' and get a unique one specially selected.
Nine - Yes... An Adult Coloring Book!
What once was an activity that kept so many of us entertained as children, is now resurfacing as a trend adults are coming to love. Not only that, according to Susan Gordon, Licensed Master's Social Worker and manager of Piedmont Sixty Plus, these are the top seven benefits that adult coloring can do for those suffering in depression and/or anxiety:
- Your brain experiences relief by entering a meditative state
- Stress and anxiety levels have the potential to be lowered
- Negative thoughts are expelled as you take in positivity
- Focusing on the present helps you achieve mindfulness
- Unplugging from technology promotes creation over consumption
- Coloring can be done by anyone, not just artists or creative types
- It’s a hobby that can be taken with you wherever you go
I guarantee there's a coloring book out there which will delight your friend or loved one... whether it be Harry Potter, flowers, animals, or even mandalas! (You may need to pick up an extra coloring book for yourself as well!)
Ten - Uplifting & Inspirational 'Must Read' Books
Last but not least, if you're putting together a Self-Care gift basket, you would be totally amiss if you didn't include some great, escape-worthy, self-help, inspirational books. Your buddy will appreciate your thoughtfulness and these are two great choices!
The first recommended book is 'Furiously Happy' by Jenny Lawson. Jenny Lawson is known to be a hilarious author. Her goal with this book was to write a hilarious book on depression and anxiety, and she certainly succeeded.
'The Little Book of Mindfulness' -- 10 Minutes a Day to Less Stress, More Peace by Dr. Patrizia Collard, is an easy-to-read book you can do in bite-size chunks to help with anxiety and decompressing from a particularly hard day. It helps anxiety by simply using extreme focus to pay attention to a single thing. Practicing mindfulness leads to greater daily joy, happiness, peace, and contentment.
So who's ready to go shopping and have some creative fun in putting together the most incredible, thoughtful, self-help gift basket to cheer up your friends or family? Don't forget to bring this list with you when shopping!
- Scented Heated Shoulder Wrap
- An Ambient Sound Machine
- Give the Gift of Journaling - (You can purchase 'The Ultimate Happiness Journal by Zulzan at Amazon.)
- Hot Drinks & Homemade Baked Goods
- Give a Special Mug with an Inspirational Saying
- Give the Gift of Indulgence with Beauty Spa Products
- The Popular 'Weighted Blanket'
- Anti-Anxiety Tokens or 'Touch Stones'
- Yes... An Adult Coloring Book!
- Uplifting & Inspirational 'Must Read' Books
BUT WAIT! THERE'S ONE MORE THING YOU CANNOT FORGET!!!!!!!!!
There is something nostalgic and sweet about a handwritten note. It means a person took the time to deliberately put pen to paper. This simple, thoughtful act can strengthen relationships, and it's a means of communication your friend or family loved one who is struggling will long remember.
It is not only 'vital' but 'necessary' that you yourself write an intentional handwritten note and write the most heartfelt and meaningful message to uplift and cheer up your friend or family member as possible! And don't forget to include your cell phone number and email so they can reach out to you 24/7 as needed!