Sorry for vanishing! My computer essentially died on Wednesday. I now have a replacement, a Chromebook I immediately named Betsy (what, you don’t name your electronics?).
Seeing all of the holiday shoppers in the big-box store where I found Betsy made me start thinking about gifts that might be helpful for someone with OCD or anxiety. Whether you’re searching for a loved one or for things to put on your own wish list, here are a few ideas.
1. Upbeat media
Exposure therapy is all about facing fears, but sometimes you’re just too wired to do that. Maybe you’ve been forcing yourself to go the whole day without yelling at a sneezing co-worker or you’ve been around a trigger. Maybe it’s just a bad day and you’re tired. On those bad days, though, there’s nothing like curling up with a good, pleasant book or TV show and trying to focus your mind on other things.
Personally, I prefer bright, cheerful options like cartoons or science fiction novels with happy endings. Other people might find other genres more cathartic. If you aren’t sure what someone would want, there’s nothing wrong with a gift card.
2. A self-care kit
This one’s an easy one. Take a nice bag, box, basket, first aid kit or purse, and fill it with items for self-care. You could even put together a self-care stocking. Possible items to include: Travel sized lotions, snacks, hot cocoa mix or tea, aromatherapy candles, small games, mini-kits for new hobbies like origami (Barnes & Noble tends to have a lot of these by the cash registers), warm socks or slippers, and so on. Basically, anything that will let your friend or loved one have a nice, relaxing time.
3. Informational books
If the person you are shopping for is newly diagnosed, they may not know where to turn for information. I have not read much about general anxiety yet, and a lot of info about OCD can be found online, but I have read two books that I’m finding enormously helpful.
The first is Being Me With OCD by Alison Dotson. She also has a great website. While the book is technically geared more toward teens and young adults who have been diagnosed with OCD, it is very well-written and easy to read, and it offers a ton of information and advice people of all ages will find really useful.
The second is The OCD Workbook: Your Guide to Breaking Free From Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder by Bruce Hyman and Cherlene Pedrick, which I bought a while back but have only just started reading. This one has exercises with each chapter; I struggled with them the first time I tried, but it’s time to try again. So far, I’m finding it really helpful, and it was recommended to me by a friend with OCD who spoke very highly of it.
4. A gym membership or exercise videos
Be careful on this one! If your friend or loved one is sensitive about weight or has struggled with eating or exercise disorders, it’s probably a bad idea. But one of the things I learned in the anxiety class I took is that exercise is a great way to blow off (anxious) steam. I know when my anxiety shoots through the roof I calm down by taking very long walks, and it does often help.
Think about what the person you’re giving a gift to might like. If they love nature and walking, passes to some state parks with hiking trails might be a great choice. A free month of classes for your yoga-loving brother would also work.
5. Your time
It’s always nice to receive a thoughtful gift, but there’s nothing better than some support from a friend or family member. If you know your loved one has been having a hard time lately, plan a de-stress day where the two of you hang out, and offer a listening ear, a distraction or both. Nothing is better than the gift of time.
If you still want to give a physical gift, make some coupons. “This coupon is redeemable for ice cream and a movie.” “This coupon is good for one day trip to the destination of your choice.”
I have to tell you, my family had no idea how much I was struggling with OCD before I was diagnosed, but since then they have really gone out of their way to check on me and spend time with me, especially when I am having a bad week. It has meant the world to me, and nothing I get this Christmas will even come close to that.