Well & Free's Top Picks for Wellness Gifts This Season
We’re less than a month away from Christmas and the pressure is on for those who buy gifts! I don’t know about you, but amongst my family and friends I’m definitely feeling a shift away from material gifts and toward handmade items, experiences or simply quality time. I’ve really learned as an adult how valuable it is to give and receive gifts that are practical and make a positive difference in someone’s life, as opposed to something that will just be used a handful of times and then forgotten.
In this often high-stress world we live in, wellness gifts — items or experiences that help us achieve our wellness goals and improve our quality of life — are extra special. Here are my top picks for wellness gifts for your loved ones this holiday season:
Class passes to fitness studios
People are often hindered by the price of specialty fitness studios — especially hot yoga — so they won’t bother to give it a try. Giving someone a 5 or 10-class pass is a good way to jumpstart their fitness goals. Even if they only stick it out for the number of classes you purchase for them, it at least gives them the opportunity to try something new.
The combination of delicious local food, history, exercise and the company of family or friends is the truly unique experience of a food tour. My favourite food tour company is Culinary Adventure Co., providing tours in Toronto, Kingston, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Charlottetown and Halifax. Of the 7 food tours currently offered in Toronto, I’ve tried the St. Lawrence Market and Riverside + Leslieville tours and absolutely loved them. The best part is they will cater to any dietary needs as long as you let them know in advance.
Floatation Therapy sessions
Also known as Sensory Deprivation and REST Therapy (Restricted Environmental Stimulation Technique), Floatation Therapy is a quickly trending form of relaxation which you can conveniently access in Toronto and some surrounding areas. This is an experience I have yet to try but have only heard great things. In a session you spend one or two hours floating in a completely soundproofed pod filled with about 10 inches of water and Epsom salts. The water and air are carefully controlled at a temperature which, when you close your eyes and relax, make the ends and beginnings of your body, the water and the air indistinguishable — hence the floating sensation! This form of therapy boasts many health benefits, including stress and pain relief, increased immunity and improved blood circulation.
Energy Healing Tools
Energy is a really powerful thing that may have more of an impact on our wellbeing than we realize. Having good energy in your home comes down to more than stylish decor, functionality and cleanliness. “It has a lot to do with the energy that has been expelled in a space, and not cleared away. Arguments, breakups, stress, exercise, parties, deaths, grief—all aspects of life that leave behind energy in your home” (Energy Muse). One way to remove this negative energy is through smudging, but for someone who is new to energy healing, crystals are a friendly introduction. Specific types of crystals can be chosen to create a certain kind of protective aura in each room of the house. This website is a great start to find out which crystals to choose based on your loved one’s needs.
Himalayan salt lamps
Not only does the warm, welcoming glow of a Himalayan salt lamp look nice, it provides health benefits too. What gives Himalayan salt its pinkish hue is the trace minerals it contains. Salt’s naturally hygroscopic capability, meaning that it attracts water molecules to itself, helps improve indoor air quality by attracting allergens, pollutants and bacteria along with the water molecules. The glowing hue of the lamp also improves energy and mood. Wellness Mama gives a good overview of these unique lamps on her blog.
The popularity of Mala bracelets in the wellness world is twofold: first of all for their stylish look and each one being unique from the next, and secondly for their healing abilities and the positive energy they awaken within us. Wearing a Mala bracelet can be a regular reminder of a goal, wish or accomplishment, or keeping it with you on your yoga mat can be a reminder of your intention during your practice. These bracelets can also be used for a mantra meditation, which I find to be a very effective way of quieting the mind while you focus on moving through the beads and repeating your mantra.
Hygiene and beauty products
At this point I almost strictly use Uniquely Pure for all of my products because they are each handmade by the owner, Kelly, in her Belwood home using natural ingredients. Kelly also offers massage and other holistic therapies, which work in perfect harmony with her line of aromatherapy products. There are endless reputable natural brands out there, and it’s a matter of finding your favourites and sharing them with family and friends.
Food with benefits
You can always feel good about gifting sustainable, fair trade goodies, now widely available in grocery and health food stores. One of my favourite brands is Alter Eco, a chocolate company that provides fair trade chocolate products in compostable packaging and replants the rainforests where their cacao beans are grown. In addition to chocolate, coffee is a popular and important item to buy fair trade to help preserve the naturally grown coffee bean while supporting local communities where the beans are grown.