December is a month of giving for many of us.
Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or another special day this month, it’s a tradition to give gifts to others. It can also be a month full of holiday commitments that include big meals, an extra glass of wine, and little time left for exercise or other self care.
So rather than give material gifts, why not give the gift of health this holiday season? Helping others get or stay healthy is a loving way to say you care.
Here are 7 ideas to help you give the gift of health to your friends, family—and yourself.
1. Gym Membership
This is a gift that keeps on giving, as your recipient can enjoy the benefits of exercise for as long as the membership continues: a week, a month or a year. Choose an in-person gym close to home, or an online workout plan. If your loved one isn’t into the gym, then consider another health membership like yoga lessons or a meditation class.
2. Healthy Cookbooks
After all the fatty appetizers and extra helpings of potatoes and gravy, some healthy cooking tips will be welcome in January. There are any number of healthy cookbooks on the market, from lightened up versions of favorite recipes, to vegetarian or vegan, to the cooking styles favored in the world’s “blue zones.”
This is not a fad diet, but is the name given by a National Geographic writer to refer to the world’s longest-lived areas, which he calls blue zones. Places like Okinawa, Japan and Sardinia, Italy—and now regions he has identified in the United States—follow a diet that’s largely plant-based, while also being affordable, sustainable, and with a lower carbon footprint than a meat-heavy diet. Dan Buettner also states: “Most important, it is hearty and delicious, developed over centuries by fusing flavors from the Old and New Worlds in ingenious and uniquely American ways.”1
3. Self Care Books
Also called self-help, there’s a wide selection of books that are designed to help us improve a specific aspect of our lives. The best self-help books can help us see things in a new way, start a new habit, or understand a topic in a deeper way. Your sister may or may not appreciate a self help book, but if you’ve appreciated a recent read, why not share it by gifting her a self care book?
Just like cookbooks, there are self care books for everyone, from business books like The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People to the advice on enjoying life provided in The Happiness Project.2 Or, give the gift of a journal, and offer the health benefits that can come with daily journaling, helping people manage stress and anxiety,3 and stay in touch with their emotions. While you’re at it, why not buy one for yourself too.
4. A Sun Lamp
If you or someone you love suffers in winter’s short days and long dark nights, a sun lamp may help. A desktop sun lamp, for instance, can help people who suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD).4 Their form of bright-light therapy can alleviate the winter blues, especially when the holidays end and the long month of January lays ahead.
5. A Weighted Blanket
There’s nothing more soothing on a cold December night than wrapping yourself in a blanket. There’s some evidence to suggest that a blanket can be more than warm and cozy. A heavy, weighted blanket may be beneficial to your health.
That’s because a weighted blanket uses what’s called “pressure therapy,” which is a calm-inducing amount of pressure placed on your entire body. There are different sizes and weights, but the concept is that you feel hugged, swaddled or held when you’re laying under your blanket. They may also help those suffering with anxiety, sleep disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism.5
6. A Massage or Spa Day
This is an easy one, as a certificate for a spa day can be appreciated by just about anyone. We don’t always take the time to relax, so provide this gift to someone you love. Offer to drive them to the appointment, or babysit the kids while they’re gone. Or, book a massage for yourself too, and go together.
A massage can offer the following health benefits:6
- Reduced stress
- Increased relaxation
- Reduced pain and muscle soreness and tension
- Improved circulation, energy and alertness
- Lowered heart rate and blood pressure
- Improved immune function
7. Book Your Doctor’s Appointment
How many of us put off booking our annual doctor’s appointment? Make it a habit to book it in December for January. If you don’t have a doctor, use our Physician Finder to find one near you. Or, offer to take a loved one to the doctor. There’s more to gift giving than expensive or material items. Give the gift of health in December and your kindness will be remembered all year long.