Great Gifts for Mental Health

Give the gift of mental health! These are some of my favorites to help keep your brain and body in optimal shape. Shopping for loved ones can be challenging and if last minute, even more stressful…so here are some quick ideas. I have no financial affiliations with any of these products but do receive an affiliation credit if you use the links below. 

1. Zester. This seriously underrated kitchen tool makes it easy and fast to add citrus or ginger to any dish. I like to use it for Parmesan cheese and sometimes even for shaving nuts on my desserts.

Link to zester.

2. Theracane and Foam roller- Every few months I tend to throw out my back and I am sure I could solve the problem if only I could reach the area that’s hurting! The Theracane is a must have tool for anyone with back issues. A mini foam roller should also be on that list. Rolling out my IT (Iliotibial) band on the outside of my leg and my back are key elements of keeping myself well. Back pain and limited mobility compromise my ability to exercise and pain is super depressing. 

Link to Theracane

Link to foam roller

3. Buckwheat Pillow – I switched to these about a decade ago. Made from the hulls of buckwheat, the pillow is hypoallergenic, helps with cooling, and I find the support to my head and neck superior to other pillows. I also love the travel size for power naps on planes or in cars. 

Link to pillow

4. Crock Pot – I fight the winter blues with soups, stews, and slow cooked meats. A crock pot makes these dishes so easy to prepare and to serve. Lentil soup is probably our family favorite, but a vegetable, barley, beef soup comes in a close second. There are a variety of sizes available. You can also upgrade to an Instant Pot for a more complex and advanced piece of cooking machinery but I’m a big fan of the simple version. 

Link to Crock Pot

5. Oura Ring – I’ve been tracking my sleep for a year with the Oura ring. I’ve not found other wearable trackers to be helpful, but I love this ring as I get a lot of data such as my sleep efficiency, times in various sleep cycles, heart rate, heart rate variability, temperature and more. They just released a new version and while pricier than the other items on this list, it is a great gift for anyone struggling with sleep. You first need to order a sizing kit unless you are certain of your ring size.…so get that heading to your recipient today! 

Link to Oura ring

6. Noise Canceling Headphones – When I was traveling weekly for work, I would find myself craving the silence of noise canceling headphones. There is so much noise these days – internally and externally – and I find that often my focus and productivity really improve when I use these. There are many makes and models. I like the Bose 700 and Apple Airpod Pro. 

Link to Bose headphones

Link to Apple headphones

7. Light Box or Dawn Simulator – Chronotherapy uses light to improve mood and is an effective treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder as well as helping to boost mood during winter. For people on your list struggling with getting up and going during the cold dark winter, this might do the trick. Learn more at run by Columbia Psychiatry’s Chronotherapy expert Michael Terman, MD and see the options.  

Link to dusk-dawn simulator

Link to light therapy lamp

Link to another light therapy lamp

8. A case of Anchovies or Sardines – Nothing says “I love your brain” like the gift of small fish. Packed with omega-3 fats, B12, iodine, protein, zinc and more, eating small fish help us avoid toxins and environmental concerns that can accompany other seafood choices. Plus, the great shelf-life makes them a wonderful brain-healthy pantry staple.

Link to sardines sampler

Link to anchovies

9. Dark Chocolate Sampler – High quality dark chocolate helps support brain health. The case of chocolate, cacao, is packed with fiber, iron, and magnesium and regular consumption of dark chocolate is linked to a decreased risk of depression and increased blood flow to the brain. Try for at least 70% cacao and minimal other ingredients that are more natural aka choose almonds offer toffee bits. 

Our team’s favorites: 

Link to cashew butter, raspberry, dark chocolate

Link to salty dark chocolate

Link to the variety pack

10. Emotional Support Animal – Of course check in first, but few gifts can bring as much joy and emotional support as a pet. I’ve had dogs, cats, horses, chickens, rabbits, gerbils, fish, and a ferret and each brought me joy in different ways. 

11. Tea sampler – I am a huge fan of herbal teas for both stimulation and relaxation. A sampler often includes a mix of black, green, herbal, and decaffeinated teas and allows for exploration of the many different mental health benefits of tea. 

Link to tea sampler

12. Cast iron skillet – I use these every day. Not only do they provide an extra dose of iron but cast iron skillets don’t have any coating or non-stick chemicals, some of which have raised health concerns. I also like the versatility to take a dish I’m cooking from my range to the oven. We love the classic Griswold Skillets which are out of production but can be found on eBay and also have a number of Lodge Skillets. 

Link to cast iron skillet

Drew Ramsey, MD

Drew Ramsey, M.D. is a psychiatrist, author, and farmer. He is a clear voice in the mental health conversation and one of psychiatry’s leading proponents of using nutritional interventions. He is an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

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  1. Hi! I’m such a fan of your cookbook, Eat Complete, and also enjoy your newsletter. I was wondering about canned sardines and anchovies – it seems like I’ve read conflicting things about whether or not the omega-3 content is reduced by the canning process. Can you comment on that? Canned fish are so affordable and convenient and I especially love flavoring things with anchovies so I would probably eat them even if they didn’t have all those omega-3s, but it’s definitely a bonus if they do!

    1. Hi Therese, canned fish are great! sardines and anchovies packed in water do lose some of their omega 3 content, but they’re still a great source of omega 3s and other nutrients. So good to hear that you like to use them in so many different ways.

  2. Hello, I am a 61 year old male survival from an Astrocytoma brain tumor surgery and full brain radiation on 4/9/1975. I have had my first episode of “Superficial siderosis of central nervous system” 11/13/2021. It was like jumping back to kindergarten in my mind and trying to relearn.

    Anyway, I found your book and am reading it daily. Presently am getting excited to begin my 6-week plan of recipes. Have already tried many foods as reading. My memory is very weak so I thought to ask if you know where I could find a list of foods and their benefits from your book “Eat to beat Depression and Anxiety” ?

    Please share any other information, readings that you feel would help.

    Thank so much! may God be with you,

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