Feeling truly relaxed is always important, but it can represent a particular challenge during the cold winter months and throughout the busy holiday season. It’s also been a particularly stressful year (make that several years), and giving the gift of relaxation to your loved ones has never been more meaningful. With that in mind, here are our top gifts for wellness and self care, whatever the occasion, to promote calm and peace of mind year-round.
Classes, courses, and sessions
Treat the friend who’s always on the go to a relaxing massage this holiday season. For the ethically-minded, giftable spa experiences that are sustainable and vegan-friendly are easy to come by. (Some beauty and skincare products contain animal-derived ingredients such as shellac, lanolin, and squalene, so search for clearly-labeled and certified brands.)
For those in the UK, Vegan Directory offers a complete online directory of local plant-based businesses to support, while Vegan Paradise offers a similar service for U.S. customers. Natural Feeling Spa, which we have highlighted below, is vegan-friendly and also offers custom gift cards.
According to Natural Feeling Spa itself: “Our products are vetted for quality, sustainability, and integrity of ingredients, with an emphasis on supporting business that are BIPOC and woman-owned.”
Yoga is a fantastic way to boost wellness. Proponents say it eases stress and presents a perfect mix of mindfulness and physicality. In-person classes are up-and-running again across most of the U.S. and UK, but virtual sessions remain popular too, and services such as Glo and Gaia Yoga offer gift subscription packages—perfect for the holiday season.
You can also go in person or online to purchase gift vouchers (for both virtual and in-person classes). Check out yoga centers like Yoga Hero—a Leeds-based company offering both a stacked calendar of virtual and in-house classes for all levels, from beginners to experts. They also offer teacher training courses.
Apps and other subscriptions
If yoga isn’t quite the right fit for your gift recipient, meditation just might be. Studies show that it can help with relaxation and sleep through mindfulness. The modern version of mindfulness is owed to Eastern religions and concepts, including both meditation and yoga.
The rise of meditation apps of all shapes and sizes means there’s a lot to choose from. Headspace is a top contender due to its high usability, relatively low cost, and secularity. Calm is great for both meditation and sleep. Harvard Health explores the topic of meditation and the mind in greater detail here, specifically its impact on anxiety and depression.
While the concept of self care has, arguably, become wrapped up in consumer culture for the wealthy, at its core it encourages much-needed healing and recovery—particularly for activists, radicals, and marginalized groups. Because of this, beloved American poet and activist Audre Lorde famously wrote that caring for herself was “an act of political warfare.”
As with meditation, no purchases are required to practice self care, but for the people in your life who benefit from structure, external support, or tips and advice, there are plenty of self care-focused apps and programs available that attempt to promote and support wellness and self kindness, making them perfect gifts.
Sanvello provides a combination of self care, peer support, coaching, and therapy. Moodfit combines daily goals with tools and other insights to deal with stress and anxiety, while Sleep Cycle takes care of the user’s rest by tracking and analyzing their sleep patterns.
The Shine app, which we have chosen to highlight in particular here, is owned and run by women of color and offers “more representative, and more inclusive” mental health advice and support, along with “check-ins” and meditations. It had over two million users in 2018.
Wellness can involve self-reflection and pro-activity, but there’s still room for a little light escapism in any self care regimen. Scribd, which we have highlighted below, combines books and audiobooks with podcasts, magazines, and even sheet music in one simple package.
(For those looking for a more minimalist bundle, Audible offers a stripped-back selection of audiobooks and podcasts for a lower price, while Kindle Unlimited makes reading-on-the-go comfortable with a combined subscription and reader package.)
The perfect accoutrement to any nap, at any time of day, weighted blankets can help some people with feelings of stress, as well as insomnia and difficulty sleeping. (Proponents love them, and studies are promising, but there still isn’t a huge amount of data.)
You can choose a sustainable luxury option from companies such as Bearaby (in lots of different weights and styles) or Remy. Bearaby’s Tree Napper, linked below, is made from eucalyptus fibers and weighs a modest 15 pounds.
Vegan home spa
Spa gift sets, bundles, and collections typically contain beauty and skincare products that help create a relaxing and nourishing experience in the comfort of home, often including incense, bath salts, soaps, massage oils, and candles.
There are plenty of vegan, sustainable, and cruelty-free options from sellers and platforms including Wearth London, Etsy, the Ethical Market, and Not On the High Street. The Acala Spa Bag, stocked by Wearth and linked below, contains cleansing soap, an aloe vera konjac sponge, and lavender bath salts, in addition to jojoba body oil for a complete, gifted experience.
A sustainable journal
Journaling is fun, therapeutic, and a key wellness tool for many people. Choosing a sustainable, vegan-friendly version is a simple but thoughtful gift, and you can find lovely options at WHSmith. Check out this selection on Etsy and Green Tulip’s selection here.
Look for: recycled paper, non-leather covers, and vegan-friendly glue. You could also get some sustainable pens to gift along with a journal. The Yop and Tom dot grid journal linked below features a vegan leather cover debossed with a gold moon and star design, available in several colors.
Brewing, sharing, and drinking hot drinks can be a soothing and habitual mindfulness practice, especially when combined with new or comforting flavors and aromas. Bird & Blend Tea Co. even offers a build-your-own loose leaf tea selection box, linked below, that can be customized depending on the gift recipient’s preferences and tastes.
Adult coloring books
Coloring books aren’t just for kids. The intricacy of coloring requires concentration and fine motor skills, making them excellent for relaxing at the end of a hard day. This has now become a huge industry in itself, and you can choose coloring books designed and marketed specifically for adults to enjoy. The product linked below includes several relaxing scenes of animals and nature, perfect for the wildlife-obsessed person in your life.
Did you buy some of those yoga classes for someone already? Maybe your gift recipient is already a Yoga With Adriene aficionado. Maybe they don’t even like yoga, but just want some comfortable, sustainable athleisure clothes for day-to-day.
Materials such as Econyl (recycled fishing nets), Cupro (upcycled cotton), and bamboo (fast-growing, renewable, and low-impact) provide an eco-friendly alternative to the virgin plastics and non-biodegradable options often found in sportswear.
Yoga clothes and other accessories are a booming market, with plenty of products and companies to choose from, but two fabulous sustainable options are Reprise and BAM. To support a company using less waste water for minimal environmental impact, check out ALWRLD’s yoga gear made from recycled fishing nets, linked below.
Similar to coloring, crocheting, knitting, embroidery, and other project-based crafts are great mindfulness activities that occupy your hands and brain, all while working on something creative. Just make sure to choose a kit that is sustainable and vegan.
Acrylic wool uses damaging materials such as coal and oil, while sheep’s wool is bad for both the animals themselves and the planet in general. Instead, materials such as Tencel and bamboo make for sustainable wool and sustainable craft projects. The crocheting kit linked below is sustainable, vegan, and perfect for beginners.
LIVEKINDLY is here to help you navigate the growing marketplace of sustainable products that promote a kinder planet. All of our selections are curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, LIVEKINDLY may earn a commission.