14 Holiday Gift Ideas for Someone Living With PTSD
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and complex PTSD (C-PTSD) come with their own set of symptoms that can often be misunderstood. Folks with these diagnoses may feel isolated, lonely and generally “other.” By choosing a gift that relates to their condition, it can help the receiver not only with their symptoms but also with feeling understood and connected.
As an individual living with C-PTSD, I’d like to share some items I find helpful for my condition or that I’d enjoy receiving. Hopefully, one of these would be a welcome gift for others with similar needs.
1. Noise-canceling headphones.
A common difficulty with PTSD is having triggers, some of which can be auditory. A nice way to be able to block this out is by having noise-canceling headphones. There are a lot of options available at a variety of prices. In a pinch, regular headphones or even some cute earplugs may be helpful.
2. Meditation app subscription.
Meditation can be a great resource for folks who experience the anxiety and troubles with sleeping that can come with PTSD. While there are free apps, many often come with additional options and features with a subscription. Some options are “Insight Timer,” “Headspace,” and “Calm.”
3. Essential oils and diffusers.
PTSD can come with symptoms of hyperarousal and dissociation. One way folks can ground themselves is by using their senses, and the sense of smell is often a favorite. Essential oils are a great option to meet this need. A bonus gift could be a diffuser that could vary from a necklace, bracelet, an electronic diffuser and do on. Saje.com has lots of great options.
Some folks really benefit from workbooks and would appreciate the saved expense of purchasing one for themselves. There are a lot of great options. Also, don’t forget to check wish lists; they might have some on there! Here are a few choices:
- “The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma” by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D.
- “Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving” by Pete Walker.
5. Weighted blanket.
Weighted blankets have become increasingly popular in recent years, and for good reason! A lot of folks find they help with the reduction of anxiety and improving sleep. While these do tend to be somewhat pricey, they are becoming more affordable. This could also be a great group gift. One company I like is Gravid.
6. Calming tea.
A lot of folks find tea calming, and there are even specific blends to help with stress or insomnia. This can make for a thoughtful and inexpensive gift. Two of my favorites are:
- “Buddha’s Blend” from David’s Tea.
- Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Extra Herbal Wellness Tea.
7. A special invite.
Folks with C-PTSD have often experienced trauma within their family of origin. The holidays can be a difficult time as the individual may choose not to spend time with family. Check-in with your friend if they might like to join you and your family for the holidays. It could also work just as well to have a coffee date, go to a special event or service, or doing something fun like cookie decorating.
8. Smart devices.
Smart devices can be used in a surprisingly large number of ways in regards to mental health. They can be used for appointment or medication reminders, humor, meditation, health tracking and much more. Some are relatively inexpensive, such as the Echo Dot, which is often on sale for $30. Check out my article on this topic.
9. Support animal treats.
If your friend has a support animal, chances are they have a long list of things they’d like to be able to get their furry friend. This can include things like special harnesses, toys, treats and more. While surprises are nice, this might be a situation where asking for input is a good idea.
10. Massage or other special treatment.
Purchasing your friend a gift certificate for a massage or other special treatment is very likely a great idea! These treatments can reduce anxiety, increase body awareness, be grounding and more. Almost anyone enjoys this type of gift — just be sure to tailor it to their needs. Some folks with PTSD may not like to be touched, so a sensory float or Reiki therapy may be more appropriate. Other folks may not like being alone in a room with a stranger, so a massage chair or open space manicure might be in order. Use your creativity to come up with a perfect treat!
11. A humorous book.
Bringing laughter into the day can be a great reprieve for a person with PTSD, even if it’s just for a moment. Have you noticed your friend likes a particular comic? Maybe they frequently repost or like something from a particular artist on Instagram or Facebook. Or maybe you can just take a good guess. Need some help? These are a few artists I find funny:
- “Strange Planet” by Nathan W. Pyle.
- “Adulthood Is a Myth: A Sarah’s Scribbles Collection” by Sarah Andersen.
- “Lunarbaboon: The Daily Life of Parenthood” by Christopher Grady.
12. “Get out of ___ free cards.”
Sometimes, getting out to certain events or outings can be really hard. Additionally, once there, something could be unexpectedly triggering or otherwise difficult. For a person with PTSD, an added burden can be feeling like they need to explain their absence or reason for exiting. While you are hopefully understanding of this with or without a card, it is still a nice gesture. It can be a neat homemade gift, is a low-cost option and shows a lot of support.
13. A unique comfort item.
A difficulty that comes with C-PTSD is struggling with self-regulation. Having a specific item that helps with this can be really useful. Put on your thinking cap and figure out what is comforting for your friend. This can vary a lot from person to person. Some ideas include stuffed animals, pillows, blankets, gemstones, cozy socks, fidget items, candles, religious items, a hot water bottle, or whatever you know your friend likes.
14. Merch from a favorite mental health organization.
Does your friend have a favorite mental health organization? Chances are they sell t-shirts and other cool knickknacks. These can be great conversation starters as well as reminders of what is important. There are unending options, but some merchandise I like comes from:
- To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA).
- The Sad Ghost Club.
As you can see, there is no end to possible gifts that may be helpful for a person with PTSD or C-PTSD. I likely could continue on the list well past 30 ideas, but this is a great start. Did a particular suggestion stick out to you? Have an additional idea you’d like to offer? Leave a comment!
If you enjoyed this article, please take a moment to check out some of my other articles here on The Mighty. If you’d like to follow along with my journey, you can find me on Instagram as @mentalhealthyxe.
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash