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December 2, 2022
Our 2022 Mental Wellness Gift Guide

Megan Rafuse

A sketch of three gift boxes in a row promoting Shift's gift guide.

Shift Collab's Favourite Holiday Gifts Of The Season

We’re here to recommend some of our favourite holiday gifts of 2022 that inspire wellbeing and joy. 

Let’s be honest. While the holiday season can be magical, it’s also one of the most stressful times of the year. From complicated family relationships, to the many expectations we place on ourselves, the holidays can sometimes feel more overwhelming than relaxing. Add on the increased spending for gifts and meals, changes in our fitness or wellness routines, late night celebrations paired with little sleep and, well, it can become mighty exhausting. 

For many of us, it also looks like additional emotional labor, managing and testing our own boundaries, and trying to find time to rest amidst all the things to do. For others, it’s a time of blissful relaxation, self-care, and time to recharge for the coming year. It may mean time for those hobbies you love, long walks with loved ones, surprise engagements and family time, and slow mornings with delightful cups of coffee. I like to remind myself that most people are like me and fall somewhere in the middle, oscillating between rest and chaos!  

While many of us are quick to focus on caring for others over the holidays we often neglect ourselves in the process. If that sounds like you, remember that it’s okay to care for yourself too over the coming weeks so that you can come out of this season a little more grounded, recharged and feeling good. 

In an effort to support you in making your gift giving a breeze, I’ve asked our therapists and staff to share their expert opinions on what self-care and mental wellness gifts they recommend. 

Here’s our categorized round up of what you can buy for your loved ones (and yourself) for the holidays. We’ve also included some of our favourite free, cheap or low cost experiences and support options for those who have a tighter budget this year.

1. WELLNESS

Hush Weighted Blanket
Our Care Coordinator, Stefania, recommended this weighted blanket to cozy up with on those cold nights or when you need to mitigate that insomnia or feelings of anxiety. 

Saje Pocket Farmacy
Our Care Manager, Melissa, admits that while she may be biased as she used to work at Saje she recommends this gem noting that it provides all of the essential oil roll-on favourites in one pocket sized package. Great for some aromatherapy and a quick pick me ups and in her words “the peppermint actually works!”

Sunrise Alarm Clock
Our Clinical Manager, Wayne, suggested this great tool to increase light exposure in the morning which can not only help with managing Seasonal Affective Disorder but also allows for a noninvasive way to be woken up (ie: no loud beeping or picking up your phone first thing)!

A sample care package from Crying Out Loud.
A sample care package from Crying Out Loud.

Crying Out Loud Care Packages
If you don’t know about this incredible storefront, you need to. These care packages are the best gifts but also support a group of female entrepreneurs who have bonded over shared loss. Their items are well curated and beautiful to boot and our Clinical Director, Jennifer, is a true fan often sending these gifts to our Shift team!

VRAI SOI Candles
The name, Vrai Soi means “true self” in French which sums up this Toronto brand’s values. Paired with supporting a black-owned business and a local female entrepreneur, what else is better than lighting a 100% soy wax candle, and hopping in a warm bath or reading a cozy book by candlelight? Nothing. As therapist Elizabeth Bala says, “ Every candle is hand crafted and comes with a unique affirmation There is so much love in every piece.”

Ember Temperature Control Smart Mug
A gift for every parent in the room! This mug is a game changer for keeping drinks hot when you have 100 things on the go at the same time. The good news? Before embarking on motherhood and changing into a CEO role, I was also a full-time therapist. This was a lifesaver for keeping my coffee hot throughout my sessions all day long!

Oura Ring 
Sleep tracking can be helpful in understanding ourselves and our wellness. The Oura ring is on Jordan’s wishlist because “as I get older, sleep and being mindful of what my body needs to thrive is more and more of a priority for me.”

Nunuuk Slippers
These cozy slippers are a staple for my “at home” wardrobe and I treat myself to a new pair every year. Thankfully, they are usually on sale at Costco but sell out quickly as there are a lot of super fans like me out there. You know, those of us just at home living in our slippers!

Vitruvi Cloud Humidifier
This beautiful and functional humidifier blends seamlessly with your decor and ensures you can breathe easy during the dry winter months. 

The Sage Soap Steamers
Therapist Julieta Strugo share that she’s “always been intrigued by their shower steamers” noting that while she “hasn’t tried them she has heard rave reviews about them for managing migraines and stress”. Cherry on top? It’s a small business based out of Guelph! 

2. CONNECTION

A card deck developed by Esther Perel.

Where Should We Begin
Put bluntly, I’d Esther Perel is a therapist that most therapists look up to. She’s just so good at identifying areas for connection and intimacy and this storytelling based game is so much fun to play with a group of friends or a loved one.

Cool to Connect
We are big fans of Dana Clark, founder of Heroic Humans and Cool To Connect. Everyone benefits from connection and sharing more about yourselves with others. The Cool to Connect card deck will make you think, push you to share and increase your vulnerability by simply engaging in a dialogue and sharing these prompts with those you care about. 

Fair Play
This is a system of cards that helps couples break down the household tasks and tackle balancing the invisible labor that is so prevalent and pervasive in partnerships. Do yourself a favour and tackle this sooner or later. 

Uncommon Goods
The site you didn’t know you needed for incredible unique gifts. Go see for yourself!

3. EXPERIENCES

Othership
We are big fans of Othership and I will go every chance I get. From the warm giant sauna to practicing breathwork during the cold plunge, it’s a great way to recharge. It’s even better to bring a friend and experience it together! 

An image of cards
A sample package from Guess Where Trips.

Guess Where Trips
We are all for exploring local and our therapist Kourtney Yurgan felt the same way when she signed up for a Guess Where Trip. Kourtney shared, “it’s SO amazing, you put in your location and can pick a trip in the “general” area and explore local gems - it’s all a surprise though. Even better they support local businesses by putting them in their trip itineraries - and they expanded across Canada”. Count us in! 

Airbnb Gift Card
After a few years in lock down, it’s nice to be able to explore again. Whether it’s a new country or a one night getaway close to home, it’s never a bad thing to getaway.

4. READ

We love to read at Shift and believe that books are a great way to learn about yourself, take yourself away, engage in different ways of thinking, learn about difficult cultures or historical events, become an advocate or activist, and share a story with others. Our lists are long, but here are some of our favourites lately!

The Book with No Answers by Robert James Maiolo

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown

The Myth of Normal by Gabour Mate

Rework by 37 Signals

Untamed by Glennon Doyle

Get Untamed (Journal) by Glennon Doyle

Set Boundaries, Find Peace by Nedra Glover Tawwab

Atlas of The Heart by Brené Brown

Seven Fallen Feathers Tanya Talaga

The Skin We’re In by Desmond Cole

It Pays to Play by Kristi Herold

How to Relax by Thich Nhat Hanh

Platonic by Marisa G Franco, PhD

5. MOVE

Peloton
Our Clinical Director Jennifer motivates our whole team to get on the bike, go for a walk, or do a mindfulness class before early bedtime and she is a true Peleton’er. We believe that together we go far, and Peloton reminds us that community can drive us in incredible ways!

Yoga bolster in grey.
Pacific yoga bolster from Love My Mat.


Love My Mat Long and Lean Yoga Bolster
I just bought a brand new bolster from Love My Mat, a local Hamilton female-owned business, and I absolutely love it. Perfect for restorative yoga and opening up those shoulders after long days on the computer. Plus, the fabric options are incredible! 

6. CALM

A woman practicing breath work.
Othership Breathwork App.

Othership Breathwork
We already told you how much we love Othership and their breathwork app is equally as lovable. Take some time for yourself, calm your nervous system, and build a new skill to support your cognitive and physical functioning. 

The Five Minute Journal
Gratitude is important and there is always a benefit to improved self-awareness. This beautiful book will be great for your mind and soul.

Dear My Anxiety Breathwork Classes Stefania Rossi, owner of Dear My Anxiety, led a breathwork class for the Shift Collab community and it was such a fun practice in learning a new skill. We will for sure be joining into more classes and sharing with our loved ones over the holidays!

7. SELF CARE

A bottle of dry shampoo
Dry shampoo from the wonderful Daily Hair Company.

The Daily Hair Company Self-Absorbed Dry Shampoo + Texture Spray
A friend gave me this dry shampoo as a gift recently and now I swear by it. It’s a local Canadian company owned by a female entrepreneur. Even better, it keeps so many of us feeling fresh on those days we’d prefer to push snooze over doing our hair! 

Aesop Soap Duet
The packaging is beautiful and of course the scent is even better. I love this soap. I want it in every bathroom. It feels like a real treat of a product and one most of us don’t tend to buy for ourselves. This is your sign to treat yourself.

Maude Vibe and Shine Set
Self-love and pleasure helps to manage stress, can increase connection with yourself or others, and this set will not disappoint! 

SoYoung Linen Lunch Poche

We are huge fans of Catherine Choi, owner of SoYoung, and these lunch bags are not only beautiful but functional as well. We’ve ordered some of these as Shift swag, and also gift these bags often. We proudly carry our bags promoting a company that does incredible work to destigmatize addiction.

Athletic Greens AG1
 
If you ever wondered why Shift runs on energy and growth, it’s because we drink our greens every morning! Seriously, I love these and drink my AG1 every morning. No chalky taste and full of vitamins and minerals this green drink keeps me feeling stable throughout the day. 

Knix Heavy Flow Period Kit
 
How amazing is it that Joanna had the largest exit as a female founder ever in Canada? Cheers to that. Beyond her leadership and incredible vision, her period undies are top notch. 

Mini Tipi Upcycled Mittens 
An Indigenous owned business that makes beautiful mittens to keep your fingers toasty all winter long. A great gift for those who have everything! 

An image of Three Ships beauty products.
A biodegradable eye mask from Three Ships.



Three Ships Beauty Biodegradable Eye Masks 
I am one of those people you’ve heard about who uses these eye masks and loves them. They are cold, refreshing, and perfect for the long months ahead of us! 

Cup of Té Luxe Gold Starter Kit 
If Oprah loves it, so do we. A black-owned Canadian business that makes incredible teas. I mean just look at this starter kit!

An image of teas from Lake and Oak.
Chill tea from our friends at Lake & Oak.


Lake and Oak Tea The Chill Collection 
Shift is a huge fan of Meredith Youngson and her organic tea and latte blend company, Lake and Oak Tea Co. We can’t pick just one favourite but if we were going to be gifting to ourselves right now, for sure it would be this incredible Chill Collection. As a bonus, Lake and Oak has graciously offered friends of Shift 15% off with code SHIFT15. As if we needed another reason to buy more from this business we love! 

A box of chocolates.
The advent calendar from our friends at Chocolate de Kat.

Chocolat de Kat Box of Chocolates
I dream of having alone time with this box of chocolates and savouring every single bite! These beautiful chocolates not only are made locally in Toronto, but they are also available in a customizable box! You know that that means, no more taking one bite of a so-so one and putting it back in the box…that can’t be just me that does that? No shame! Seriously, run, don’t walk to order these to gift someone or to eat yourself in time for the holidays!

Blume Mint Cocoa
A great way to enjoy hot cocoa with less sugar and more mint! I love this blend and enjoy it in the evenings while watching Sort Of on CBC Gem. Local gems are topping this list! 

Needlework
I need to give a personal shout out to Needlework which has been a champion for my own mental health while on my return from mat leave! I’ve really enjoyed learning how to sew with the support of the amazing team at Needlework, a female owned business in Hamilton, Ontario, and use my evenings as time to practice a new skill. From the beautiful fabrics, notions , embroidery and crafting kits, to the supportive staff, it’s a wonderful place to find a new hobby or hone your skills. Bonus: they ship across Canada! 

8. KIDS

Four children posing in Mini Mioche Kind Human Club long sleeved tops.
Mini Mioche Kind Human Club Clothing.

Mini Mioche Kind Human Club Short Sleeve Tee
We love Mini Mioche for all things kids and when we thought we couldn’t love them even more, their incredible founder Alyssa goes and partners with Mom Halo in support of SickKids! A gift that keeps on giving. 

Happy Hippo Bath
Coming from Alberta, this bath brand is making waves. Therapist Alana Warner shared that “for those with kids, their kids collection will get your kids wanting baths”. If that is not a gift in itself for parents then I don’t know what is! 

9. KIND

Donate to your local food bank or community fridge. We know that with the rising costs of inflation and rent, the impacts of the pandemic, and challenges that come with poverty, mental illness, trauma and addiction, food banks are being utilized in our communities now more than ever. If you can spare any extras this holiday season, consider donating to your local food bank or community fridge. Also, if you need to use a food bank or community fridge, please don’t gaslight yourself into not using it. Your needs are valid and it’s okay to seek help from others. There is no shame in taking care of yourself and accessing the food banks in your community. 

An image promoting Shift Collab's holiday drive for The Shoebox Project
Join our holiday drive for The Shoebox Project.

Fill a Shoebox! This year, Shift will be supporting the Shoebox Project. These decorated Shoeboxes are filled with approximately $50 worth of gifts and essential items that women might enjoy, it also includes a warm greeting and supportive message to the person who opens it up! These shoeboxes will then be distributed to local women’s shelters and community agencies serving women impacted by homelessness across Canada.

We would love for you to participate in any way you can! Head over to the donation link where you can make a monetary donation, which will go directly to the Shoebox Project to purchase gift items to include inside the boxes!

Write a letter to a loved one and send it via snail mail. How fun is it to get real mail? I know I love opening the mailbox to find a handwritten letter waiting for me. Even better is that communication like this contributes to connection, fights loneliness and writing letters allows a space for us to be mindful and share stories with those near and far. 

Give the gift of time!
For some, giving and receiving the gift of time may be the best blessing of all. Consider showing up and helping yourself, or purchasing a gift card, for house cleaning, babysitting, an oil change, a haircut, a massage, a date night, a manicure, gas or even groceries. While gift cards tend to have a bad rep, consider them as buying someone time for themselves which in our books is a great thing! 

Two people sitting across from each other over coffee.

Go for a nature walk. Getting outside is a great way to beat the winter blues and get some exercise. Going for a walk with a friend, loved one or a new playlist on Spotify is a great way to blow off stress and build connection either with yourself or someone you care about.



Send someone a thank you note. How great is it to feel appreciated? If you’re feeling down or tight on funds this holiday season, consider sharing your gratitude with those who have supported you along the way. It’s a great way to lift two people, you and the recipient, in the process! 

If you’re lacking ideas, here are some more of our favourite free or low cost experiences

  • Hand make a craft or cookies.
  • Call someone you haven’t talked to in a while.
  • Write a 5 star review for your favourite small business.
  • Check in on a neighbour. 
  • Declutter your spaces.
  • Walk a dog or cat sit.

Give the Gift Of Mental Wellness. we are always happy to support you and your loved ones on the therapy journey. Whether it's working with you to find the right therapist, or if you want to cover the cost of a loved one's session, our care team is always happy to connect!

I hope that these ideas help you to tackle gifting to yourself or your loved ones this holiday season. We hope we’ve also inspired you to remember that some of the most thoughtful gifts don’t always need to cost the most money and that there are so many great small businesses to support across the country!

Have a wonderful holiday season!

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