Buying a gift for a friend or family member with bipolar disorder? Skip the standard Starbucks gift card – and choose something that promotes wellness. Below are a wide variety of selections ranging from $1 to $200 (you can find many of them at discounted prices, so shop around). All of my picks are products Ive used personally, that my counseling clients have found helpful, or that Ive carefully researched.
1. Books about bipolar disorder: Education is essential for people with bipolar disorder. A well-written guide is a thoughtful gift. My pick: Bipolar Disorder For Dummies ($15.25). This book contains basic as well as advanced information. Every smart person with bipolar disorder should read this book for dummies.
2. Books by people with bipolar disorder: It can be inspirational to read books by people who have successfully recovered. My pick: An Unquiet Mind($10.24).This is a classic memoir by clinical psychologist Kay Redfield Jamison. It inspires understanding and hope – and should be required reading for anyone diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
3. Self-help workbooks: These can be a helpful tool, either for those who dont have access to therapy or as an addition to therapy. My pick: The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills WorkbookDialectical Behavior Therapy is an effective therapy for a variety of mental health issues. It includes learning the set of skills taught in this book – mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, emotional regulation, and distress tolerance.
4. Biofeedback device: Biofeedback helps people improve their health by learning to control their nervous systems. There are a number of quality devices you can use at home. My pick: EMWAVE2 from HeartMath ($199). This is a handheld, user-friendly device that gives feedback on heart rate variability. Just a few minutes of use each day can make a big difference.
5. Light therapy lamp: If your loved one is prone to seasonal depression in the fall and winter, they may benefit from light therapy. Light therapy isnt appropriate for everyone and carries the risk of triggering mania – so its important that its used with medical supervision. My pick: TRAVelite from Northern Light Technologies ($200). This is the one I use. Im sensitive to light, so I use it at a greater distance than indicated in the directions.
6. Brain game software: Cognitive functions like memory and attention are a challenge for many people with bipolar disorder. Theres evidence that brain games can be useful for cognitive remediation. At the very least, they can be a fun and challenging pastime. My pick: Happy Neuron($79.95 for a one-year membership). This is an online, membership-based set of games for brain wellness. The program tracks your progress so you can see improvements over time.
7. High-quality pillowMy pick:BioSense
8. Sleep maskDream Zone
9. Indoor exercise equipment: Exercise is also important for recovery, and indoor equipment is a convenient alternative to exercising outdoors or going to the gym. My pick: Urban Rebounderfrom Urban Rebounding ($119.95). I dont believe all of this As Seen on TV companys claims, but their rebounder is approved by Consumer Reports and is a good value.
10. Online yoga classes: Yoga is an effective practice for both fitness and relaxation. A home yoga program is a good option for people who want to save money or dont have a yoga studio nearby. My pick: Gaiam Yoga Studio ($19.99 per month).
Food and Nutrition Items
11. Natural snacks by mailHealthy eating habits are another key aspect of recovery. NatureBox
12. Meal planning software: Planning meals is a challenge for some people with bipolar disorder. Meal planning software can help save time and money, reduce stress, and bring about healthier eating habits. My pick: Plan to Eat ($39 per year). This membership-based service has all kinds of features – you can take a tour on their website to learn more.
I mentioned self-soothing in my last post. Self-soothing involves the senses of sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste.Just for fun, Ive picked one gift for each sense.
ZooBorns ($10.00). This is a hardcover book of baby animal pictures. You cant go wrong with baby animal pictures, right? Plus, 10% of the sale of every book goes to animal conservation.
15. Smell:Nerola Orange Blossom Soy Candle from Pacifica ($22). These are clean burning candles by an environmentally-conscious company that supports local charities.
16. Touch: Worry Stone
A donation to a mental health organization in your loved ones name is a meaningful gift. Below are my top 3 picks.They each have a slightly different focus – but are all aimed at improving the quality of life for people with mental illness.
To donate, go to NAMIs donation page
DBSA focuses on all mood disorders. To donate, go to DBSAs donation page
IBPF focus specifically on bipolar disorder. To donate, go to IBPFs donation pageIn addition, whenever you buy something on Amazon.com, you can shop with AmazonSmile – use this link to make a purchase, and 0.5% will be donated to IBPF.