10 meaningful gifts for a loved one with an invisible illness
If you have a friend or family member living with an invisible illness, you probably already know how drastically it can impact their health, happiness, and quality of life. These sometimes-lifelong conditions—including chronic pain, bipolar disorder, anxiety, and more—while not physically apparent, can make everyday life feel like a struggle. Whether or not your loved ones talk about their invisible illness openly, it never hurts to let them know you’re thinking about them.
We tapped two women living with invisible illnesses for their recommendations on thoughtful gifts to comfort a friend over the holidays. “I think that when you’re going through stuff and things are chronic and not really going away any time soon, it’s nice to receive something that’s truly meaningful and specific to the person you’re giving it to,” says Harper Spero, who was diagnosed with an immune deficiency at age 10. “They just make things a little more comfy-cozy and enjoyable while living with the highs and lows of invisible illness,” Spero, the host of podcast Made Visible, adds.
Lauren Freedman—the brains behind the Uninvisible Pod podcast—is also making her mark on the health space. Freedman lives with her own invisible illnesses and works to build a community for people with invisible or chronic illnesses by sharing women’s stories on her podcast.
With Spero and Freedman’s help, we have rounded up the best gifts for your friend living with an invisible illness.
1Comrad Compression Socks
Shop it! $29.95, amazon.com
Perfect for wearing on planes or even during exercise, these socks are highly recommended by both Spero and Freedman, so you know they’re must-haves. “I can’t fly without these, and if I know I’m going to be on my feet for long periods of time they help immensely with circulation,” says Freedman. “Invest in a pair and treat ’em right: DO NOT tumble dry!” Plus, they work to improve circulation with graduated compression—all while reducing lactic acid build up—and are available in a variety of patterns and colors.
2Trtl Soft Neck Support Travel Pillow
Shop it! $25.49, amazon.com
If your friend is a frequent traveler, you’d be remiss to skip out on gifting her the Trtle travel pillow. Freedman absolutely swears by it, claiming “it actually helps you sleep sitting up—no joke.” The plush pillow is made of super soft fleece and holds the head in an ergonomic position (much more comfortable than other travel pillows). Bonus: It’s also machine-washable, which is a godsend for those trying to avoid germs and allergens that are incredibly easy to pick up in airports and on the road.
3MemoBottle Flat Water Bottle
Shop it! $36, amazon.com
MemoBottles are not like your average flask, since they are designed to be flat so that they can fit seamlessly into any bag. “I always get comments when people see me using this bad boy around town,” says Freedman. “Its super convenient shape allows you to store it easily in your handbag or backpack.” Not only is this water bottle cute and will keep your friend hydrated, but each purchased bottle also provides a person in need with two months of clean drinking water through the company’s partnership with water.org.
4Dyson Pure Cool Me Personal Purifying Fan
Shop it! $298.99, amazon.com
This air purifier works to improve the air quality (and potentially sleep quality) in your friend’s room, by doubling as a fan and noise machine. It contains both a HEPA air filter and an activated carbon filter, which capture 99.97 percent of airborne allergens and pollutants. It’s perfect for nightstands since it sends a focused stream of purified air directly toward the bed. Spero also suggests investing in this Dyson air filter, which works to purify your entire home.
5Quali Herbal Poultice Pain Relief Patch
Shop it! $23.13—$44.45, amazon.com
These warm pain relief patches draw out impurities to calm and soothe minor aches and pains, and are completely herbal—making them perfect for the friend who’s an all-natural product fiend. “I’ve tried every heating and cooling pad on the market for sore muscles…and this patch is by far the best,” raves Freedman. “It’s really powerful and keeps me comfortable, especially when traveling. It can also be cut to size.”
6Bucky Eye Mask
Shop it! $8.99, amazon.com
Freedman is a fan of this soft, lightweight molded foam sleep mask, and it’s easy to see why. It’s contoured around your eyes so that you have the freedom to comfortably blink as you’re trying to fall asleep without anything pressing down on your eyelids—you’ll hardly even feel it.
7Bose Noise Cancelling Wireless Bluetooth Headphones 700
Shop it! $349, amazon.com
With 11 levels of noise canceling control (including the option to let ambient sound in), your friend can block out noisy crowds and just about everything else with these wireless Bose headphones. Use voice commands to control music, navigation, weather, and more, and take calls without background noise interfering. They also last up to 20 hours per charge, which makes them great for bingeing Netflix or traveling.
8Eminence Organic Skin Care Calm Skin Chamomile Cleanser
Shop it! $42, dermstore.com
Ideal for a friend who needs a calming self-care moment in their day-to-day, this gentle cleanser removes impurities, reduces irritation, minimizes wrinkles, and hydrates skin, thanks to ingredients like chamomile and rosemary extract and sunflower and calendula oil. It’s packed with antioxidants, essential oils, and vitamins E, A, and D, and is even safe to use on the most sensitive skin.
9Warby Parker Felix Glasses
Shop it! $95—$295, warbyparker.com
You might be under the impression that blue-light-blocking glasses are unattractive (dare we say, ugly?), but Warby Parker is breaking the mold with theirs, and Freedman loves this pair for its eye health benefits. The brand offers scratch-resistant, anti-reflective lenses that block out 100 percent of UV rays and filter more blue light (think: light from your laptop, cellphone, iPad, and the sun) than the brand’s classic or light-responding lenses.
10Lunya Washable Silk Cami Pant Set
Shop it! $238, lunya.com
Spero recommends these Lunya silk pajamas (as well as the cotton collection), since they’re incredibly soft, machine-washable, and come in a variety of subdued neutral hues. They’re also temperature-regulating and come with pockets (yay!) and adjustable straps for a comfy fit.
This story originally appeared on Health.com by Brittany Loggins.