Self-care has become a buzzword, but it’s also an important concept—and one with roots in activism. As the brilliant writer, feminist, and thinker Audre Lorde wrote in A Burst of Light, "Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare."
Many people—especially women, and especially women of color—spend so much of their lives supporting other people that they often don’t have the energy to focus on themselves and what their bodies need. For these people, taking time out to focus on themselves can be a radical, important act. I think that these gifts are a perfect way to support the people in our lives who fit this description—whether that’s you (it’s OK to give yourself a holiday present too!) or someone you love.
These lava rock necklaces look really cool and minimalist, plus they’re super porous, which allows them to absorb essential oils well. Basically, you can drop some oil on your necklace, then walk around all day breathing in a really soothing scent, which feels like a constant, mini-aromatherapy session.
There are essential oils and then there are essential oils, and it can be hard to figure out the quality difference. 21 Drops is a company that definitely does it right—its oils are all made from certified organic or wildcrafted ingredients (this is a key thing to look for when determining essential oil quality) that are diluted in 100 percent organic jojoba oil (another important factor). Basically, they make the good stuff. Opt for "De-Stress," a blend of frankincense, German chamomile, lavender, and ylang-ylang, which smells divine and has totally kept me from freaking out on more than one occasion.(from $10; 21drops.com)
If not Martha Stewart, who could you trust to select high-quality wines? The lady knows 4,000 percent more about wine and entertaining than I ever will. Plus, she totally has a real-person budget in mind for these, at $10 a bottle: You can get a "mixed box" of four bottles and know that all of them have been vetted and are totally appropriate to bring to a dinner party or give as a host(ess) gift or whatever. Besides, giving someone a box of wine is probably the best way to say "I like you and want you to be happy" I can think of.(from $40 for four bottles; marthastewartwine.com)
Journaling is a great way to process thoughts and feelings, and Alex Elle created this journal with "self-care, healing, and emotional evolution in mind." Even if you don’t think of yourself as especially creative, the #ANote2Self Meditation Journal is excellent: It’s really structured, with a space to write a daily intention, answer a question, and write a note to yourself—and it only takes a few minutes to complete.($22; amazon.com)
I think the ritual of lighting a candle is soothing in itself, and if it’s nicely scented, so much the better. Usually, you have to pay buckets of cash for a candle that doesn’t smell like a liquefied My Little Pony, but Saje makes a really nice one that’s usually about $20 but is available during the holiday season for a very affordable $14. It’s all tangerine and bergamot-y, which are scents I find very relaxing, and it comes in this really pretty, simple holder.($14; saje.com)
Cleaning your home sucks, but having a clean home is amazingly relaxing. Yes, it’s an expensive gift, but the Eufy Robovac is legitimately life-changing. I have tried other brands on the market, and this thing is the best for keeping my place legitimately pet- and human-hair free without any work on my part, which is frankly a godsend.($260; amazon.com)
Sure, the adult coloring craze has died down, but that doesn’t stop it from being a really great way to manage stress and anxiety. Unlike a lot of other adult coloring books, which focus on landscapes and animals, Andrea Pippins’s I Love My Hair depicts stylish women with beautiful curls and coils.($13; amazon.com)
Does it really help you lucid dream? Who knows. Is it really delicious, and can it make you feel calmer? In my experience, yes. And making a cup of tea is so simple, but can feel like a calming little ritual, creating a boundary between the rush of the day and time to relax at night.($14; animamundiherbals.com)
Lush makes this amazing oatmeal, lavender, and ylang-ylang-infused body lotion, appropriately called Sleepy, that is profoundly soothing and can help you drift off to sweet dreams. And that’s not just because it smells amazing—while there’s no definitive proof, there have been studies that show inhaling the scent of lavender oil does have a relaxing effect.($10; lush.com)
Jess Novak is the Greatist lifestyle and beauty editor. Follow her misadventures on Instagram @jtothenovak.