Gifts for the most stressed-out people you know

Unclench your jaw, relax your shoulders, and check out these ahhhh-mazing stress-relief gifts that will transport your loved ones to the relaxation station.
Stress-relieving products on a white background
Amanda Reed

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You probably know more than a few people whose stress levels are running a little high right now. While there’s no gift that can truly combat the existential terror of the year ending, these products can at least take the edge off. Here are a few stress-relief gifts to help your favorite ball of anxiety unwind a bit.

Best weighted blanket: Bearaby Cotton Napper

Bearaby Cotton Napper ($249)

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Weighted blankets aren’t just an Instagram ad fad. Used for years by people on the autism spectrum, these throws have a genuine calming effect. The extra weight and pressure on the body helps trigger your parasympathetic nervous system, which lowers your heart rate and sort of switches your fight-or-flight response off. This effect makes them great for restless sleepers, and there’s evidence that they can help negate some of the symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) by offering a constant but simple stimulus in the form of touch. Bearaby’s blankets are weighty enough to induce these effects, but unlike most products, they get their heft from the fabrics they’re woven from—not from little metal balls stuffed inside. That makes for a therapeutic blanket that looks and feels nice enough to drape across your couch (when you’re not ducking under it to cry).

Best pillow: MedCline Shoulder Relief Wedge and Body Pillow System

Medcline Shoulder Relief Wedge and Body Pillow System ($280)

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Is this pillow expensive? Yes. Does it look pretty? No. Will it change your life? Almost certainly. For people dealing with tense shoulders and necks, the bizarre design of this sleep wedge will protect from pinched nerves and other nighttime misalignments. Give your loved one the gift of a good night’s sleep for years to come.

Best eyemask: Loftie Sleep Mask

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An eyemask is great for taking a quick power nap or to get total darkness while meditating. This one from Loftie—the same company behind this sunrise alarm clock that doubles as a lamp—is made out of orange silk and includes interior eye pockets to relieve eye pressure and protect eyelashes. The head strap is comfortable, very stretchy, and won’t fall off while you’re sleeping. Not only that, it’s just as stylish as it is practical. It’s also a great gift for travelers.

Best fitness tracker: WHOOP

Whoop 3.0 ($150+)

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The world is full of fitness trackers and other life-optimizing wearables, but the WHOOP Band is designed with a unique goal in mind: recovery. By tracking sleep, daily activity, and heart rate variability, this band helps users figure out which habits keep them feeling at their best.

Best for napping anywhere: Ostrichpillow Original

Ostrich Pillow Original ($35)

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You’ve seen Moira Rose wear this pillow on Schitt’s Creek. Get one for yourself or your stressed-out friend to nap anywhere thanks to its immersive, plush design. Use it to rest your head against the wall, or pop your hands inside to put your head down on a table. It looks kooky, but getting a power nap anywhere will be your new superpower.

Best for meditation: Core Orb

Core Meditation Trainer ($149+)

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This one ranked among our favorite personal care innovations of 2020. Research ties meditation practices to everything from lowered anxiety levels to better blood pressure and relief from gastrointestinal distress–but self-doubt can cripple attempts at finding zen. The handheld Core orb uses biofeedback and haptic guidance to steer you toward focus and calm. As you hold the softball-size device, ECG sensors monitor both pulse and heart rate variability to track how relaxed you are. Guided programs in Core’s app help you to further learn which meditation methods work best for you. If your chill vibes start to slip away, gentle vibrations will remind you to stay on task.

Best sauna blanket: SunHome Saunas Infrared Sauna Blanket

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Bring the relaxation of a sauna into your home with this infrared sauna blanket from SunHome Saunas. Simply set your temperature and time settings, wait for it to heat up, and shimmy into the sleeping bag-like tube. It will melt your achy muscles and make you feel like you’re in a warm cocoon. You can even watch TV, read a book, or play some video games while sweating your problems away.

Best ice roller: ESARORA Ice Roller for Face & Eye

Ice Roller ($15)

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Ice rollers are often hawked as beauty aids, and they can definitely help reduce puffiness after a night of tossing and turning. But these chilly gadgets really shine when it comes to soothing migraines and jaw pain. If someone you love has been complaining of headaches or a clenched jaw, send them a roller and tell them to keep it in the freezer. Whenever stress strikes, they’ll be ready to gently massage their head, neck, face, shoulders, or anywhere else that could use a cooling balm.

Best percussion massager: Hyperbolt Bluetooth

Hypervolt Bluetooth ($299)

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Sometimes stress creates muscle knots so intense, an ice roller just won’t cut it. Your only recourse then is to beat the tightness into submission. Given you can’t show up at your bestie’s place and give them a deep tissue massage in person this year, gift them the next best thing. This percussive massage gun is powerful enough to melt away even the worst knots, and its Bluetooth capabilities mean users can follow tailored programs to optimize their massaging experience.

Best for alone time (wink wink): Wild Flower ENBY 2

Enby ($70)

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We won’t try to suggest that you could (or should) buy a vibrator for everyone on your holiday gift list, but for a close friend or a partner—especially a partner you can’t see in person as much as you’d like—the Enby is a great choice. It won a PopSci Best of What’s New Award in 2019 for serving as the most compelling gender-neutral sex toy on the market. It’s designed to please a wide range of bodies in all sorts of ways, and we probably don’t have to tell you why it’s great for stress relief.

Best chocolate: fx Chocolate Exhale

fx Chocolate ($20)

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Honestly, you can buy any chocolate you dang please for your stressed-out friend. It’s bound to do them a world of good no matter what flavor or brand. But to give the sweet treat’s best properties a chemical boost, fx Chocolate adds in supplements meant to improve your mood. The company makes a few varieties to suit different needs, but fx Exhale is a good choice for stressed snackers. The actual impact of ingredients like L-theanine and GABA on human brain chemistry is still very much up in the air, but they can’t hurt. After all, it’s chocolate.

Best bubble bath: Dr. Teal’s Epsom Salt Antioxidant-Rich Matcha Green Tea Foaming Bath

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Baths are relaxing and luxurious. And, with a product name like “Balance & Calm,” this Epsom salt foaming bath soak will ease your weary muscles, relieve stress, and moisturize your skin. Even better, the bubbles are long-lasting, meaning you won’t have to cut your bath short because the bubbles have deflated.

Best supplement: Moon Juice Magnesi-om

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Magnesium is an incredibly important vitamin—it plays a role in approximately 300 body processes, including muscle and nerve function and energy production. Low levels of magnesium can cause brain fog, headaches, low mood, and insomnia. Enter Moon Juice’s Magnesi-om, which combines three bioavailable forms of magnesium with L-Theanine for mental and physical relaxation. Get constipated when you’re stressed? It contains magnesium citrate, which helps you poop. Plus, it’s a perfect afternoon pick-me-up or nighttime treat.

Best comfy pants: Betabrand Skinny-Leg | Power-Down Pants

Power-Down pants ($78)

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In the post-pandemic work-from-home present, it’s easy to stay inside … a lot. But plenty of Americans have to make regular trips outside the house—to work, to get groceries, or even just to get some fresh air. Those excursions are stressful enough without having to wear real pants for them. Betabrand is known for designing business-casual clothes that offer yoga pants levels of comfort, so your giftee can step out in style without feeling like they’ve gotten out of bed. If the skinny-leg style isn’t right for them, go a more unisex route with some chic joggers.

Best weighted vest: Pyvot Spark and Dash vests

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Have you ever looked at your dog and thought, “I could use a Thundershirt but for humans?” Enter the Pyvot vest, which acts like a gentle hug all the time. You can use it as weight resistance for yoga or walking, or wear it all the time for a weighted blanket on the go. It’s just as stylish as it is calming.

Best soaking salt: Adrina Dietra All Natural Bath Soak

All Natural Bath Soak ($15.50)

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There’s nothing quite like a hot bath to relax your muscles and cleanse you of your worldly troubles—at least for an hour or so. Help your loved ones get the most out of their bathing rituals with salt blends and teas designed to soothe their senses. Our favorite small business to buy luxurious bath treats from is Adrina Dietra’s apothecary, but Etsy is packed to the gills with other options from indie makers, too. And if you really want your gifts to come with a personal touch, you can check out our guide to making custom bath bombs at home.

Best candle: Paige’s Candle Co.

Spiced Mango Chai Taxonomy Candle ($17+)

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What’s better than a hot, scented bath? A hot, scented bath surrounded by hot, scented candles. Paige’s Candle Co. is a small, woman-owned business that makes vegan soy wax candles that smell out of this world. We’re especially big fans of the Spiced Mango Chai scent, which is a special holiday-season offering. For year-round relaxation, you can’t beat Lavender or Earl Gray.

Best project: We Are Knitters Himba Snood Kit

Himba Snood Knitting Kit ($50)

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One of the best ways to free your mind from stress is to fidget. Help your loved ones fully enjoy their next Netflix binge by giving them something to keep their hands busy: a beginner’s knitting kit. We Are Knitters provides everything they’ll need to execute a simple project, like this comfy snood.

Best CBD gummies: Dad Grass Goodtime Formula CBD + CBG Gummies

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CBD gummies can taste bad, be too strong, be not strong enough, or have weird ingredients. Just like your dad who traversed multiple malls to find you a Tickle-me-Elmo, Dad Grass came to the rescue with its ultra-tasty, perfectly dosed CBD gummies. The company ditches gelatin for pectin, making them vegan-friendly, and they are also gluten-free. The company also posts its lab results online, giving you peace of mind before you pop one or two back before a very stressful meeting. Our commerce updates writer has tried all three varieties—Classic Formula, Goodtime Formula (pictured), and Nighttime Formula—and can attest to their tastiness and efficacy. We’re also a fan of their CBD joints and CBD tinctures.

Best CBD balm: Papa & Barkley CBD Releaf Cream

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Alleviate cramps, aches, and pains with this CBD balm from Papa & Barkley, which contains 180 milligrams of CBD in each jar. Eucalyptus, tea tree, peppermint, and lavender oils leave behind a spa-worthy scent, and the balm itself sinks into the skin nicely. If you live in California, the company also sells balms that mix CBD and THC: there’s a CBD-heavy and THC-heavy variety.

Best CBD prerolls: A pack of Bogarts by Bogart

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If you want to chill out legally, check out these CBD prerolls from Bogart, a Hudson Valley, New York-based company. Each pack includes five .6g hemp prerolls rolled in unbleached flax paper and hollow-tip filters. We love the way they feel and the chill we feel after a few puffs, but we’re also fans of the extra-chill, 70s branding.


Amanda Reed Avatar

Amanda Reed

Updates Writer

Amanda Reed is a commerce updates writer at Popular Science. She makes sure all product round-ups are up-to-date, shares deals happening all over the internet, and reviews various gizmos and gadgets. She lives in Pittsburgh with JunkJunk, a handsome, sad-looking tuxedo cat who only wants wet food and attention.