There are many options for treatment of depression and bipolar disorder. People with a mood disorder diagnosis typically benefit from a combination of counseling (talk therapy), support from others, and medication. Small items can help supplement these main pillars of treatment.
Two members of DBSA’s Young Adult Council put together a list of their favorite tools for wellness. The items can make useful holiday, birthday, or “just because” gifts for loved ones. They can also provide a way to treat yourself while focusing on living in wellness. We have included items from a variety of price points because finances should never be a barrier to wellness. We’ve also included items to which you can add a personal, homemade touch.
Olivia: Houseplants can serve as an excellent reminder of the importance of simple acts of self-care. Just like us, plants need sunlight, food, water, and a little bit of love to thrive. Last year, one of my college roommates gave me a small plant as a holiday gift. I’ll admit that it was a succulent, which needs far less care than many other houseplants. But winter is when my depression symptoms are the most intense, so even a weekly reminder to water my plant made a crucial difference in improving my mental health.
Olivia: During a time when I was experiencing strong symptoms of depression, my sister surprised me with a small book. Inside it, she wrote “50 reasons why you’re so awesome.” I was able to take the book with me when I received in-patient treatment. It was incredibly comforting to be able to read something a loved one wrote while I was in an intimidating new environment. Four years later, I still have the book and I re-read it when I’m feeling especially down.
Since then, I have written several similar books for my loved ones. There are books you can buy with pre-written prompts, but you can also get creative; I have seen people write their own reasons on the back of a deck of cards, inside a small notebook, or even on index cards held together with a binder ring. Regardless of the format, they make wonderful, thoughtful gifts. In addition to bringing a smile to the recipient’s face, I also benefit; practicing gratitude improves my own mental health.
Meal Delivery Gift Cards
Nak: During a depressive episode, it can be hard to find the motivation to cook for yourself. A gift card for a food delivery service can make a world of difference. A few months ago, I hit a rough patch and struggled to take care of myself. A friend sent me a gift card for food delivery, and I was able to order myself enough food to last a few days.
Olivia: A few years ago, my mom asked me if I would like a weighted blanket for Christmas after reading that they can help calm people experiencing anxiety. I thought that sounded a little far-fetched, so I brushed the suggestion off. She ended up getting me one anyway, so I tested it out to show her that I appreciated her thinking of me.
The first time I used the blanket, I was shocked by how soothing it was. The gentle, even pressure helps me fall asleep. It also helps me calm down when I feel anxious. I also find it easier to focus on controlling my breathing when I’m under my blanket.
Nak: When difficult feelings surface, it can be helpful to have something on hand that can serve as a distraction. This can take many forms, including puzzles, crosswords, books, or kinetic sand. These items can help someone shift their focus away from destructive thoughts. I personally like to play Bananagrams or doodle in my journal to distract myself.
Olivia: We’ve all heard about the positive impact physical activity can have on mental health, but sometimes it’s challenging to put that knowledge into practice. When I’m experiencing the symptoms of depression, I would much rather lay in bed and watch TV than go to the gym.
I found a nice middle ground while babysitting last year: a mini-trampoline. It may sound silly, but for me, that is part of the appeal. When all I want to do is sleep, rolling out of bed and onto my trampoline is an easier task than getting ready and leaving the house. If I’m feeling down, I can put on a fun television show, pull out my trampoline, and bounce a little. Soon enough, I’m feeling lighter, jumping higher, and working up a sweat. Another benefit is the size; the trampoline I have is small enough to tuck under my bed when I’m not using it.