To say that the past year has been stressful would be an enormous understatement. The global COVID-19 pandemic has demanded the need for far-reaching lockdown and quarantine measures, that have upended daily life for pretty much all of us in one way or another.
Negative news cycles, social isolation, and ever-dwindling options to escape our new reality have caused rates of anxiety and depression to rise to all-time highs.
During times like this, it’s important to remember that external factors can relieve stress just as easily as they can enhance it.
We have spent a lot of time in this quarantine testing out different products to provide some respite from current events. After much deliberation, we have chosen five truly transformational stress relief gifts for you or someone you love who might need it.
5 Best Stress Relief Gifts
Aromatherapy has long helped people center their bodies and minds in the face of extreme stress. Unfortunately, it hasn’t traditionally been a very easy form of therapy for everyday people to access.
That has changed with the proliferation of essential oils-based products and personal diffusers devices. These devices break down essential oils into tiny particles, spreading their fragrant and healing aromas into the air around you.
Our favorite diffuser is the Vitruvi Stone Diffuser. Not only does it check all the style boxes with it’s sleek, minimal design. It’s also a great value considering its great sturdy build quality and thoughtful feature set.
The Vitruvi has a handcrafted ceramic structure that is currently available in four colors: white, black, charcoal, and terracotta. Each color is chosen to be both stylish and versatile, working with all manner of decor from modern to classic, from bedrooms to bathrooms.
It uses ultrasonic vibrations to break down the essential oils and diffuse them into the air. This approach is much safer and healthier than heat-based diffusers which can be a fire hazard.
One of our favorite quality-of-life features is the light tastefully designed to blend in with the perforation where the base of the device screws off for refilling and maintenance. The light can be controlled independently of the diffusing action, allowing the device to double as a chic night light or reading light depending on placement.
Overall the Vitruvi is an extremely well-made diffuser that makes an outstanding stress relief gift for yourself and others.
#2 Adult Coloring Books
Before you scroll past this section, know that studies have shown that coloring—yes, coloring—has been scientifically proven to relax and focus the mind in adults. It’s a shame that coloring is largely seen as an activity only to be enjoyed in childhood. Lab studies show the simple act of coloring relaxes the amygdala1 in adults. This results in a more mindful mental state, not unlike the one cultivated by practicing meditation.
But not all coloring is created equally. The same studies tell us that coloring involving complex, geometric patterns with very fine details is especially potent at relieving stress.
We’ve researched and tested a lot of coloring books this year, and ultimately, we couldn’t choose just one. Here are the three we’ve found to provide the highest quality, most relaxing experience:
This book mixes complex geometric patterns with images of majestic animals to create 65 unique and inspiring images to color. Importantly, it uses heavy paper stock so you won’t have to worry about bleeding.
This humorous option is the perfect choice if you or someone you love likes a bit of sarcastic (and sometimes off-color) humor. Like the first option, Cheer the F*ck Up makes heavy use of complex patterns and natural imagery. But sprinkled throughout these picturesque scenes are funny and frank statements of affirmation laden with expletives.2 The paper stock is also high quality to prevent bleed-through.
#2.3 An Inspirational Colouring Book For Everyone: Be Fearless In The Pursuit Of What Sets Your Soul On Fire
We think this inspiring coloring book provides the best of all worlds. It combines detailed, interesting patterns and thick, high-quality paper stock with powerfully motivating quotes to uplift your inner self.
It’s truly a pleasure to sit down and work through the pages of this moving book. Coloring these affirmative statements has the effect of focusing the mind on them much like a meditator might practice focusing on a particular mantra.
The result is an experience that not only relaxes the mind but also inspires optimism and fearlessness.
Bonus: Coloring Supplies
Make sure you secure the proper gear before embarking on your coloring expedition. Markers and gel pens tend to bleed through pages, while crayons tend to be imprecise and can lay unevenly. We recommend a professional set of colored pencils, with at least 48 distinct colors, so you never feel limited by what’s available.
If you’re looking for a premium set of pencils, look no further than the Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencil Set. Prismacolor is a trusted brand in the artistic community and their pencils do not disappoint. Included are an unmatched diversity of bright, vibrant colors in a set of handsome protective tins to keep them organized.
A more affordable, utilitarian option is the Star-Joy Premier Colored Pencil Set. The Star-Joy set comes with comes with 72 differently colored pencils, a fabric roll-out travel case, an eraser, a pencil sharpener, and even a pencil extender.3 Literally everything you need to hit the ground running in your coloring career.
Bonsai is the Japanese art of growing miniature trees in artistic and aesthetically pleasing designs. While the practice was popularized in Japan, it originated in ancient China as early as the first century AD as a way to recreate beautiful scenes in nature in one’s own home or office.
Today, Bonsai is more accessible than it’s ever been, enabling anyone to get their hands on the tools and training they need to grow their own sized-down scene of serenity.
Indeed, the process of growing bonsai provides a number of mental health benefits, relieving stress and cultivating a mindset of patience and discipline.
If you’re just getting started, we think the Planter’s Choice Bonsai Starter Kit is the best option to go from zero to tree without having hunt around for everything you need.
Included in the kit are everything you need to grow your first bonsai: pots, grooming shears, seeds, and (of course) detailed instructions.
It comes with seeds to grow four visually distinct species of bonsai, so that you can get acquainted with the quirks and challenges that come with growing each variety:
Overall, Planter’s Choice provides a really complete offering to get you or someone you love started right away with the mentally rejuvenating, ancient art of Bonsai.
So-called “fidget” toys such as fidget spinners and putty balls are a proven way to relieve stress and build focus. They’re also usually small enough to fit into your pocket so you can access their calming effects whenever you need.
We think the Joeyank Fidget Cube is a cut above your typical fidget toys for its unique design and extremely high-quality build. This cube is a fully tactile shape-shifter that can be endlessly twisted, turned, squeezed, and pulled allowing your mind to do the work it needs to do.
One of our favorite things about the design is that it can be fidgeted by touch alone and only requires one hand to use. This gives you the freedom to stealthily fidget under a table or in a jacket pocket without tipping off those around you.
It’s made with chic and substantial materials that make a handsome addition to any desk or workspace. If you or someone you know is prone to tactile fidgeting, this is the cube for you.
In a world of COVID-induced lockdown measures, many of use have been forced to exchange our treasured spa days for all-day Netflix binges at home. For those lucky enough to afford it, visits to the spa were considered a welcome and sometimes needed respite from the endless demands of modern day-to-day life.
Thankfully, products now exist to help you turn any part of your home into a spa. Our hands down most loved product in this category is the Renpho Foot Spa Bath Massager.
Renpho is a maker of a wide variety of affordable and high quality personal care gear. Notably, they also make our favorite smart body fat/BMI bathroom scale, but this list is for products that relieve stress, so we’ll stick to the foot spa.
If you’ve never tried a hot foot soak, you are missing out. So much of the stress carry with us accumulates in our feet, and a simple hot water soak can really release the tension and allow you to melt into your comfort zone.
The Renpho Foot Spa takes the foot soak experience to the next level with features like:
- Bubble jets to improve circulation
- Electric massage rollers to target
- Adjustable temperature controls to find the precise temp for you
- 10-60 minute automatic massage timer, for time-controlled sessions
The Renpho is light but has a sturdy build quality, and it heats up quickly. In our tests it took about 12 minutes to heat the water from 75°F to 105°F.
Its no-mess transportation features—four wheels, a sturdy handle, and a splash guard that covers the entire basin—make it easy to move throughout your house, to wherever you choose to have your spa day. It also comes with a handy release valve that you can easily empty into a bathtub or sink basin for easy cleanup when you’re done.
It’s been a tough year, and it doesn’t look like it’s getting any easier soon. Treat yourself or your loved one to the gift of relaxation with one of these outstanding stress relief gifts. If you see anything we’ve missed, let us know in the comments!