Though self-care might be largely divorced from its radical roots, those who practice it as it was intended still know how vital it is to establish a set of habits and rituals that prioritize self-preservation. Self-care is especially vital during the holiday season as we negotiate our boundaries among our friends, our family, and our chosen family more often than usual, which is the reason we’re presenting this gift guide. Though there’s nothing wrong with sinking into an essential oil-filled tub or booking a last-minute trip, these gifts are designed to make it easier to navigate this month and the winter to come.
Counseling is always a good idea. Though it’s rarely fun to work through our issues, it’s crucial to better understanding ourselves and our behaviors. In many ways, therapy is inaccessible: It’s expensive and time-consuming, but organizations like Open Path Psychotherapy Collective are trying to make therapy easier for those who may be unable to afford it otherwise. Open Path is a sliding-scale directory that allows people to connect with therapists in their area for in-person or online sessions. There is a one-time $59 fee, and then therapists are available for between $30 and $60 a session (or $30 and $80 for couples).
Audre Lorde, who described herself as a Black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet, died in 1992, but her work is everlasting. In her 1988 book A Burst of Light, Lorde offered the definition of self-care that many of us are now familiar with: “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” While we recommend that those who invest in self-care read all of Lorde’s work, her 1980 book, The Cancer Journals, is especially important as it details her journey with breast cancer.
“You are more than enough as you are” is a powerful motto that comes courtesy of the Dapper Dolphin Co., an online store created to “focus on self-love, self-care, and mental health.” Not only does the Dapper Dolphin Co. sell greeting cards, stickers, and art prints, there’s also a $35 box that includes everything from an enamel pin to a tea bag to temporary tattoos made up of positive mantras.
Adulting is hard. Many of us are balancing demanding jobs and side hustles that leave little room for anything else, let alone mapping out our dreams and journaling our thoughts. Angela Trinidad’s Passion Planner tries to help us organize our lives by offering a one-stop-shop for everything: a place to set goals, journal, create to-do lists, and doodle (if that’s your thing). The Passion Planner is “dedicated to helping everyone follow their passions,” so buy one for yourself and then buy one for the person in your life who’s always dreaming.
Aromatherapy is an age-old practice that uses natural plant extracts in balms, oils, and other forms to help people with their physical and mental health. There are a number of different oils that serve a number of different purposes, but this set from Essential Three, a family-owned company in Southern Oregon, specifically offers a trio of oils that promote rejuvenation, relaxation, and rebalance. We could all use more of that.
For those who are navigating seasonal depression, winter is especially difficult as the sun sets earlier than it does in the spring and summer. Phototherapy (a.k.a light therapy) is one of the treatments for seasonal depression, and sun lamps like this one can help boost both serotonin and melatonin, which assist with depression, anxiety, and sleep cycles. While this lamp costs $29.99, there are cheaper ones floating around the internet.
Good sleep is essential to our overall well-being. While there are a number of habits we can all incorporate for getting a good night’s sleep (like silencing our phone notifications after a certain time and creating a consistent unwinding routine), an aromatherapy mist that can be sprayed directly on your pillows is a good, quick, and easy start. This essential oil mist, which is sold at Target and other retail stores, includes a blend of lavender oil, tangerine oil, bergamot oil, geranium oil, cypress oil, frankincense oil, coconut oil, and chamomile oil. Just three or four pumps, about six inches away from your pillow, does the trick—though you should be mindful about how much you use if you have sensitive skin.
Though adult coloring isn’t as popular as it once was, there are still a lot of benefits to adopting coloring as a meditative practice. You’ll get a dose of nostalgia as well as a surefire stress reliever and a way of calming negative self-talk. Though there are coloring books that feature everything from Black women with natural hair to our favorite Harry Potter characters, this particular book is designed to promote mindfulness for stressed-out adults.
Weighted blankets are an expensive luxury because who really has between $60 and $200 to spend on a single blanket? However, depending on who you ask, the benefits outweigh the cost, especially for people who are navigating anxiety. Approximately 40 million adults in the United States have anxiety, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, and the pressure that weighted blankets provide can be comforting for those who need it most. Of course, a weighted blanket is not a treatment for anxiety; it’s just an effective coping tool. Be sure to get a blanket that’s not too heavy. It’s always best to go to a store and try a few out before purchasing one.