Gift ideas from seven small businesses run by people living with chronic conditions to make this holiday season even more festive.
The holiday season is upon us once again, which means you may be thinking about picking out gifts for your friends and family members.
As someone who lives with psoriatic arthritis (PsA), I am often drawn to products created by others who understand what I am going through.
For this reason, as we embark on holiday shopping this year, I wanted to provide some gift ideas for the “spoonie” in your life. To take it one step further, these gifts and services are all created and founded by folks with chronic illnesses and conditions!
Many people affected by chronic conditions have turned to self-employment and created their own small businesses. For many, running a small business allows for more flexibility than other employment options. This can be beneficial for people navigating the unpredictability of symptom flares or frequent doctors’ appointments.
For some who turn to making their own products to sell, running a small business can also serve as a creative outlet to distract from pain.
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First up, we have therapy dough, which is handmade by Michele, who lives with chronic joint pain. Her company, HabitualHerbsCo, was created specifically with fellow chronic illness warriors and spoonies in mind.
The dough is made with natural ingredients like coconut oil and aromatic botanicals. It’s great for gently strengthening hands and promoting relaxation. With proper care, the dough can last longer than 6 months. You can purchase through Michele’s Etsy shop.
This therapy dough would be a perfect gift for anyone who experiences arthritis in their hands. The dough is softest at room temperature, so it’s ideal for leaving on a bedside table for early mornings when stiff hands need some extra love.
Virtual personal training with someone who gets it
If you live with a chronic illness, you’ve probably heard from doctors about how important it is to keep your body moving. However, finding the right way to get moving can be especially tricky when you have inflamed or painful joints.
How wonderful would it be to exercise with a trainer who truly understands what it’s like? Introducing Liv Loo. Liv is a National Academy of Sports Medicine certified personal trainer who also happens to live with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Liv was diagnosed with arthritis at age 4 and knows firsthand what it’s like to navigate the ups and downs of living with chronic pain. With her upbeat, supportive energy, Liv is a fabulous trainer to guide you or a loved one.
Liv provides “adaptable movement for the chronically badass” through her virtual training sessions. To schedule a consult with her, visit the link via her Instagram page, @movetoliv.
For those looking to spark conversation and spread awareness with their clothes, look no further than Joel Nelson’s The Pain Company. Joel is an award-winning advocate for arthritis and psoriasis who keeps it real about life with arthritis on his social media platforms as @joelvsarthritis.
Joel knows how difficult life with chronic pain can be, and he’s passionate about raising awareness. His apparel line gives a voice to the millions living with chronic pain. The Pain Company sells T-shirts and sweats with beautiful graphics and messages such as “Choose Rest” and “Chronic Pain Club.”
An arthritis road map
Being newly diagnosed can be overwhelming. Suddenly you have to navigate symptom management, keep up with frequent appointments, take in a whole new vocabulary, and figure out how to adapt to a new day-to-day routine.
If someone in your life has recently been diagnosed with arthritis and is looking for some guidance, check out the Rheumatoid Arthritis Roadmap. This course was created by Cheryl, an occupational therapist who lives with RA.
Cheryl realized there was a need for a “beginner’s guide” to help navigate a new arthritis diagnosis, beyond what you briefly learn at doctors’ appointments. Cheryl notes that although the name specifies RA, about 80 percent of the course is applicable to those with any inflammatory arthritis, such as PsA or ankylosing spondylitis (AS).
The course includes 25 video lessons as well as handouts for tracking symptoms, managing fatigue and pain, and coping with the stress of diagnosis. You can also access an 8-week support program to learn more and connect with others navigating similar experiences.
For spoonies with a love for art and home decor, The Polished Prep has you covered. Creator and artist Victoria first ordered a set of watercolor paints to distract herself from pain following a surgical procedure for her AS, and as she says, “The rest is history!”
Victoria creates a number of different products that feature her gorgeous, colorful hand-painted designs. This lovely patterned serving tray would be excellent to have on hand for low energy or high pain days. When sitting at a table is simply out of the question, this tray can enable you to have a meal in bed instead.
While you’re cozied up in bed, you can warm up with this soft, fluffy sherpa blanket featuring more of Victoria’s artwork.
A set of these friendship greeting cards is perfect for any spoonie to have on hand to show appreciation to a friend who has lent a helping hand.
Creative little gifts
Another fantastic artist in the chronic illness community is Rana, who sells products featuring original art. She details life with a chronic illness in her work in a way that only someone who truly understands what it’s like could.
This clever mouse pad serves as a reminder to take your medication, something that can be especially useful during a busy workday at the computer, when medications might slip your mind. Rana’s site features tons of relatable stickers, too, to help express your feelings about spoonie life. These messages are a fun way to decorate a water bottle, a computer, or even a mobility aid.
Awareness-spreading apparel and ornaments
To close out our gift guide, we have a shop started by That Girl with Arthritis, Brianna. Bri lives with RA and lupus and created her page to help raise awareness and foster community. In her shop you’ll find these stunning glass ornaments featuring messages about different conditions.
Bri has also created cozy sweatshirts, T-shirts, and hats featuring phrases like “Out of Spoons” and “I’m Tired,” for those days when you wish everyone around you would get the message without having to be told.
The bottom line
The most important thing to remember when shopping for gifts for a loved one with a chronic illness is that your thoughtfulness and support are what matters most. If you can buy from a spoonie-owned small business, you will bring joy not only to your loved one but to the business owner as well. Happy gifting and happy holidays!
Article originally appeared on December 1, 2021 on Bezzy’s sister site, Healthline. Last fact checked on November 30, 2021.