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10 Gifts to Comfort Someone Who Has Experienced a Trauma

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Editor's Note

We hope the products below, all recommended by our Mighty community members, help you or a loved one in your health journeys. Just so you know, The Mighty may collect a share of sales from the Amazon links on this page. Prices and product availability are accurate as of publication.

Updated November 24, 2020

Most of us get some benefit from products we deem “cozy” or comforting, even if it’s just a feeling of relaxation. For people with post-traumatic stress disorder or those have experienced a trauma, comfort items can be especially helpful.

• What is PTSD?

Comfort items can also help those struggling with dissociation self-soothe or ground themselves, psychologist Jaine Darwin told The Mighty.

Products that help someone self-soothe may include items that help someone sleep, relax or lower anxiety. Self-soothing products can also be “grounding” products, which can keep someone “present” and prevent dissociation through sensory stimulation.

If you or someone you know has PTSD or is recovering from a trauma, here are some products recommended by The Mighty community and Dr. Darwin.

1. Weighted Blanket

Woman sleeping under weighted blanket

Weighted blankets are all the rage right now. Some people with anxiety or insomnia say weighted blankets help them sleep better. Weighted blankets can provide firm, deep pressure stimulation, which can be calming. The weight of the blanket should be around 10 percent of your body weight.

“I would love to have a weighted blanket,” Mighty user Java Q. said. “I would love the feeling of being “held” or “cuddled” when I have no one around to comfort me.”

While the weight can be relaxing, weighted blankets aren’t for everyone. Some find them too hot or too heavy to sleep comfortably. If you’re thinking about getting one for someone, maybe ask them if they’re interested instead of surprising them.

Our pick: Weighted Comforts has blankets that come in 15, 20 or 25 pounds. The CoolMax Weighted Blanket starts at 84.99 for adults.

2. An Object to “Fiddle” With

Silly putty and green crystals

Fiddling with objects can be a great way to self-soothe and ground yourself if you feel like you’re dissociating. You can carry small objects with texture, edges or other tactile features.

Darwin says products with texture and edges can be especially helpful as long as the edges are not too sharp.

You can get Silly Putty from Amazon or you can find various calming stones and crystals on Etsy like these.

3. White Noise Machine

White noise machine and alarm clock

If you’re in need of something to block out some sensory information or provide a calming place to relax, you may like white noise machines. A lot of therapists use them in their offices to drown out sound and prevent others from overhearing what’s said. Some people also use them to sleep.

Buy this white noise machine for $44.95 from Amazon or this alarm clock with multiple natural sounds including white noise for $70 from Amazon Australia.

4. Night Lights

Fairy lights and Himalayan salt lamp

Darwin said that some of her clients use night lights because they, especially children, experience trauma at night. Night lights can help some who’ve been through a trauma sleep comfortably. Be sure to find lights with warmer tones like yellow to prevent the lights from keeping your loved one up.

Check out these string lights for $9.49 or a Himalayan salt lamp for $11.81 from Amazon.

5. Essential Oils

Pack of various essential oils

Essential oils can soothe or ground someone, depending on what they need at the moment. Darwin said it’s hard to dissociate if something like a strong scent is present.

Stronger scents can help keep someone in the present moment if they feel like they’re “drifting off.” Strong scents could be peppermint, a citrus like lemon or orange, or anything else someone likes. If you are looking for a calming effect, choose lavender or another “softer” scent to calm down.

Get the above pack of nine popular essentials oils for $20.99 from Amazon.

6. Notebook

Black notebook

A notebook is a great way for you to write down your schedule or what you need to do. Notebooks can help keep someone on track while they’re out and or if they can’t remember what they need to do and feel like they need something to keep them centered, Darwin added. Journaling can also be beneficial for people who feel like writing something down can help free up their mind.

Smaller notebooks that can fit in a purse, briefcase or car are best.

This journal from Amazon comes in blank, ruled and squares.

7. Alarm

Teal alarm clock and FitBit

Something with a loud sound may seem counterintuitive for someone with PTSD, but an alarm can help someone who struggles with dissociation, Darwin said. An alarm that goes off every hour can help bring someone back if they have a tendency to dissociate multiple times a day. If noise is too much, wearable technology that vibrates can help, too.

Get a digital clock for $12.99 from Amazon or an Alta HR FitBit for a “silent” vibration alarm for $189.

8. A Beloved Book

The cover of a Percy Jackson book

Darwin said items that are familiar can help comfort people with PTSD. This could include a favorite book from childhood or another time. If you don’t have a favorite book, it could be something else you associate with comfort. Books can also provide an escape if needed. If your loved one already owns their favorite book, see if there’s another edition they don’t have.

The  “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” series has multiple editions and is a favorite for many. Get all five books in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, with a bonus poster, for $21.00 on Amazon

9. Noise-Canceling Headphones or Earbuds

Over-the-ear headphones and earbuds

If you or your loved one is triggered by loud noise or needs to limit sensory information, noise-canceling headphones or earbuds may be an option.

Get an over-the-ear pair from Cowin for $46.99 from Amazon or these earbuds for $35.99 from Amazon.

10. An Accessory for Their Service Animal

Nature iron-on patch with trees and mountains; black dog wearing orange reflective bandana

Some people with PTSD have service animals, so you could get an accessory for their dog’s vest or collar. Most service animals wear a vest that says “do not pet,” but sometimes owners add other patches for pizzaz. While this may not provide direct comfort, it’s a gift that shows you care.

Get a pack of safety bandanas from Amazon for $9.99 or check out this list for more service animal gifts

Originally published: November 16, 2018
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